This is probably my most important blog post since I started writing one year ago. Please take a few moments to read this – it is, after all, about you if you drive a car in Florida. Much like the ugly sweater you received this Christmas that cannot be return without the receipt, our governor is giving you something you didn’t need or want, it’s a nasty piece-of-work and it’s coming your way on January 1, 2013. Like it or not – it’s going to happen.
The new No-Fault Laws will work to severely limit your rights if you’re in a car crash and seek benefits through your policy to pay doctor bills. Details in a minute, but this new law will result in tons of litigation and will work to restrict your benefits despite the fact that you pay more and more in premiums each year. Packaged as a way to combat insurance fraud, in reality it was a beautifully wrapped love letter from our governor to the car insurance industry at your expense.
There are ways to minimize the impact this might have on you, but that assumes you have knowledge of the changes to the law and know how to avoid the pitfalls. Once you’ve read this, or anything else about the new law, make sure to tell your family and other friends of this. Information is our best asset, and ignorance of the law will lead to punishing results that could leave you thousands of dollars in debt.
First and foremost, if you’re in an automobile collision and are unsure if you are hurt or not, you must treat with a doctor or other health care professional within 14 days. If you don’t treat within two weeks, the law presumes you are not hurt and your car insurance company doesn’t have to pay for any bills even though they’ll happily continue to take your money through premiums while providing you with less.
Think about that – there are lots of people who don’t go to the Emergency Room after a crash recognizing that they haven’t broken bones or suffered internal injuries. They choose to take care of themselves at home for their vague discomfort. Then the holidays roll around and getting to a doctor isn’t possible since everyone’s away. Then the first of the year comes and you’re back at work. By the time some recognize “discomfort” has actually worked itself into “pain” and an injury is suspected you may be sitting in a doctor’s office after the two week cut-off period and your car insurance is entitled to refuse to pay the bills.
Let’s say you did treat with a health care professional within the two week window, and it happens to be a chiropractor. If you treat only with that chiropractor, your benefits aren’t available up to $10,000, it will be reduced to $2,500. This is a concerted effort by our governor and our state legislature to essentially punish chiropractors for whatever reason. And that massage therapist in his or her office that makes you feel so much better? Nope. They won’t be paid at all. The same is true of acupuncturists. They won’t be covered either.
In this case, in order to get your full $10,000 of medical benefits that you paid for, this new law mandates that you not only treat with your chiropractor, you must see a doctor of a different discipline to determine if you have an “emergency medical condition”.
So you see, now the State is in charge of telling you when and with whom you must treat in order to provide you with benefits you contracted and paid for with a private insurance company.
Much like the weirdly preserved Christmas fruit cake chock full of nasty candied fruit, there are many other aspects of this legislation that will make you choke. But I’ll spare you for now since we’re still in Holiday season.
But please be aware of this and spread the word. And next election cycle, let’s give Governor Rick Scott a gift – the gift of returning to private life, which is a much better gift for us than him.