Advocates for an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) bill in the Florida Legislature say protection for insurance consumers in the Sunshine State is long overdue.
The bill is being championed by state Sen. Doug Broxson, R-Pensacola. An AOB is an agreement that, once signed, which transfers the insurance claims rights or benefits of the policy to a third party. An AOB gives the third party the authority to file a claim, make repair decisions and collect insurance payments without the involvement of the homeowner. The AOB is a contract between an individual and a third party – typically a contractor, roofer or water mitigation company – giving them the right to deal directly with policyholders and receive payment for an individual’s claim.
Supporters of the bill say it will reform the state’s one-way attorney fee statute, Insurance Journal previously reported by specifying “limitations and authorized provisions relating to a service provider’s right to payment under certain agreements with consumers under urgent or emergency circumstances; specifying requirements, limitations, and prohibited provisions for agreements containing a post-loss assignment of benefits; providing that attorney fees under certain provisions of the Florida Insurance Code may not be awarded to an assignee of post-loss benefits who is a service provider.”
Maurice Langston, the chairman of the Florida Council for Safe Communities (FCFSC), says the bill is a win for consumers and is urging the Legislature’s effort to reform the Assignment of Benefits option for insurance consumers.
“For too long, consumers across the state have suffered with rising costs of insurance because a few bad actors are gaming the system,” said Langston. “Assignment of Benefits reform will protect many policyholders from being taken advantage of and will ensure more transparency and accountability in the claims process.”
Langston’s group points out that over the past five years, Florida has seen the number of inflated claims skyrocket which underscores the need for reform. Langston says that unwitting policyholders are being encouraged to sign over their benefits to a contractor who promises not only quick service but has a willingness to negotiate directly with the insurance company. Afterwards, many contractors will push an inflated claim and sue when those claims are questioned.
The FCFSC insisted this practice has impacted insurance rates across the state and imperiled consumer faith in a system that should work fairly for all.
“I applaud Senator Doug Broxson, Representative Bob Rommel, and the governor for the action that they have pledged this legislative session. We are almost there. If the Senate Rules Committee will act affirmatively on their bill on Wednesday, we will be one large step closer to a full victory,” Langston said.
The bill is on the Senate Rules Committee agenda for Wednesday afternoon.
Contact Ed at Ed.Dean@FloridaDaily.com.