Rick Scott signs law in Jacksonville that will crack down on insurance fraud
May 06, 2012 - Florida Times-Union
By David Bauerlein
Jacksonville isn’t known as a hot spot for staged car crashes, but Sheriff John Rutherford’s backing of insurance fraud legislation brought Gov. Rick Scott to Jacksonville Friday for a bill-signing ceremony.
Surrounded by uniformed police officers, Scott signed the bill in a parking lot next to the Northeast Florida Criminal Justice Training and Education Center.
Rutherford lobbied for the legislation on behalf of the Florida Sheriffs Association. He also cut a television ad urging state lawmakers to crack down on people ripping off insurance companies with phony accident claims.
“When law enforcement gets involved, things get done,” Scott said before signing the bill at the center, located on the North Campus of Florida State College at Jacksonville.
Scott later took a boat tour of the St. Johns River with state Sen. John Thrasher, who successfully obtained $5.6 million in river restoration money. A year ago, Scott vetoed $10 million for the river but he left the funding in the budget this time.
Scott touted the insurance bill as a way to keep the cost of living low in Florida.
A state report found the frequency of Florida crashes decreased 12 percent from 2005 to 2010 but payments on personal injury protection claims went up by 66 percent. Scott said the cost of covering fraudulent injury claims forces higher insurance premiums for consumers.
“It should reduce the cost of auto insurance,” Scott said. “We have way too much fraud.”
The actual effect on insurance premiums remains to be seen. The bill requires companies to cut personal injury protection premiums by at least 10 percent later this year, or show the state why that reduction is not possible, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
The reduction doesn’t apply to other portions of automobile insurance such as vehicle damage.
Opponents of the bill argued the measures give insurance companies a financial boost by restricting medical and legal choices for consumers who have legitimate claims.
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