Update - Fall 2007
FASI E-Newsletter
Fall 2007
November 26, 2007
Inside This Issue:

Editor's Corner

Meanwhile, In Another Part of Town

Membership Report

2007 Winter Planning Meeting

Contact Us:

FASI Website

E-Mail FASI Headquarters

President's Message
--by Gail Shuffler, City of Tallahassee, FASI President

The holidays are fast upon us and the results of recent legislative action are yet to unfold in their ramifications. The suspension of PIP until 2008 and its new administrative requirements will certainly prove interesting and will keep adjusters busy determining what coverage applies and how much. Citizens Insurance assessments continue to add costs to all policies and have Floridians scratching their heads in puzzlement of how these measures saved them any money.

The Department of Education, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Bureau of Rehabilitation and Reemployment Services is beginning to conduct field audits, having visited the City of Tallahassee last month. The criteria for file selection for the audit was all lost time cases with dates of accidents between January 1, 2006, and July 31, 2007, in which the claimant was still receiving indemnity 60 days post loss and was UNEMPLOYED. We had no cases meeting this criteria and we advised the Bureau accordingly. They came and "audited" anyway. During the pre-audit meeting the City again questioned the legality of the audit based on their criteria and we were told they were going to audit anyway. We requested a copy of the definition of "unemployed" and were advised that the Bureau attorney had such a definition but we have yet to see it. We were also told that we were using an outdated form but it was in fact the same form being used by the Bureau in their training sessions with rehab and nurse case managers.

The Winter meeting is not far off and I urge you to bring your clients or prospective new members.

Happy Holidays to all and remember the Veterans and military service personnel as we give thanks in a few days.

Editor's Corner
--by John Darin

Over there. She's the one grinning, with a twinkle in her eye. That's the lady you want to talk to about sponsoring an adults-only pillow fight during the convention. Okay, so maybe children should also be allowed to participate. But that's where the lady you need to talk to comes in. That lady is Bethan Hyde, FASI's Convention Chair. Bethan's got the experience to polish up even the worst marketing concepts and make them shine at FASI's Annual Conference in July. We're very fortunate that year in and year out, Bethan volunteers (sounds like volumes of tears) weeks and months of her time to plan and present one of the most informative and fun events for the state's Self-Insureds. So let's chip in and do our part by attending the Winter Planning Meeting (registrations in this newsletter). Have an idea for a program? Want to make arrangements for one of your vendors will comp your room? Think a group gulf cruise would put your company in the limelight? The Winter Planning Meeting is where you need to be to see your ideas start to become a reality. See you there!

Meanwhile, In Another Part of Town
--by John Darin

For many years prior to 2003, the engine driving the Florida Workers' Compensation system had been claimants' attorneys, who were fueled on by a statute that provided them with hourly fees to be paid by carriers and self-insureds when they won on any issue, no matter how trivial. A simple mathematical error by an adjuster resulting in temporary benefits being off by four cents would not just result in penalties and interest being paid to the worker; the error could also result in a self-insured paying thousands of dollars in hourly fees to an attorney. That was the state of the law in Florida prior to 2003 when the legislature replaced the hourly rate statute with one by and large awarding claimants' attorneys with a percentage of what they win. This was more like personal injury contingent fee cases, but at lower percentages because in the comp no-fault system, there is less risk to attorneys and the legislature wanted the injured workers to keep more of their benefits when they paid their own fees.

The Florida Supreme Court had considered constitutional challenges to the new percentage fee structure when it denied review in Lundy v. Four Seasons Ocean Grand Palm and Campbell v. Aramark in 2006, so it looked as if lower Court of Appeals' decisions that the fee statute was constitutional were sound. In part based upon the appearance and expectations those decisions created that the 2003 changes were constitutional, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation around October 23, 2007, recommended an 18.4 percent rate reduction for workers' compensation. The NCCI had confirmed significant drops in Florida workers' compensation costs each year since 2003.

MEANWHILE, IN ANOTHER PART OF TOWN, the Florida Supreme Court entered an Order on October 30, 2007, to exercise its discretionary jurisdiction in the case Emma Murray v. Mariner Health/ACE USA, in which the Appellant challenged the constitutionality of the 2003 fee statute. The Statute was challenged for violating injured workers' rights to due process, equal protection, access to courts and also contravening the seperation of powers doctrine. If the Florida Supreme Court finds the percentage fee statute unconstitutional, it is likely the Courts would revert to old pre-2003 case law, which would result in a return to hourly fees being paid by  carriers and self-insureds, wiping out future reductions like those experienced since 2003. FASI will be requesting permission from the Florida Supreme Court to file an Amicus brief on this important issue. 

How the insurance industy should coordinate the recent rate reduction with the onslaught of litigation which will result if the statute is found unconstitutional is not at issue before the Florida Supreme Court. 

Membership Report
--by Mark Resler

Our 2008 membership drive is well under way. Renewal notices were distributed in October. Please look for these and renew your FASI membership if you have not already done so. We really need your support, and we welcome your input. Speaking of input, your chance to voice your concerns is right around the corner. FASI’s January meeting near Orlando, Florida, is the annual planning session. It’s the best venue to get your interests addressed, which could end up as part of the program at the annual educational conference at Naples in July.

As committee chair, I want to express my sincere gratitude for your being a FASI member and for your participation in FASI during 2007. I am looking forward to an even better 2008. 

Please contact FASI directly at 1-800-226-FASI (3274) if you know of anyone interested in discussing FASI memberships, or pass this number on to the interested party, or refer them to the website www.fasi-fl.org.

FASI's Winter Planning Meeting...

Mark your calendar for January 31 - February 1, 2008, Planning meeting at the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary in beautiful Lake Mary, Florida (click here for program and registration form) and July 20-23, 2008, FASI’s 39th Annual Educational Conference & Tradeshow!

If you have questions or comments about the FASI E-Newsletter, please contact: Bill Kautter at bkautter@kmgnet.com (800-226-3274) or Newsletter Chair John Darin at jdarin@wickersmith.com.

Please note that letters and comments sent to the publisher are automatically considered for use in upcoming issues unless you expressly request that they not be used. You may request that you remain anonymous in the case that your letter or comments are used. We reserve the right to edit for brevity and/or clarity.

This eNewsletter is automatically sent to all FASI members as an added, free benefit of membership.

FASI, 222 S Westmonte Dr #101, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, 800-226-3274.