AOB-boxAssignment of Benefits (AOB) abuse is a fast-growing fraud scheme that is hurting Florida’s insurance consumers. While AOB is a long-established legal tool intended to allow vendors to receive prompt payment from insurers after doing emergency repair work in a home – without having to directly involve the homeowner – this process is being abused by a cottage industry of unscrupulous trial lawyers, water remediation firms and roofers. These bad actors are persuading homeowners to sign over the benefits of their insurance policies as a means for fraudulently inflating claims, filing thousands of lawsuits against insurers, and driving up attorney’s fees.

PIFF’s Position on AOB Reform

PIFF recognizes the usefulness of Assignment of Benefits but recommends legislative reforms be enacted to prevent AOB abuse from becoming a statewide consumer crisis on par with sinkhole claims abuse and PIP auto insurance fraud, which resulted in increased premiums for Floridians.

PIFF supports a change to Florida’s “one-way attorney fee” law so that businesses that sue insurance companies are required to pay their own lawyers – just like they do when they sue any other business. PIFF also supports legislation that will end referral fees between vendors; require detailed written estimates for work to be performed by a vendor; prohibit unlicensed adjusting by vendors; and put reasonable limits on how much work can be performed before the insurer is able to adjust the claim.

Visit FightFraud.Today and sign the petition to let members of the Florida Legislature know that you want to stop scams on Florida Homeowners. To learn more about how Floridians are being victimized, read their stories today.

Consumer Resources:

  • Downloadable brochure supplied by the Department of Financial Services in English and Spanish.
  • “Red Flag Checklist” in English and Spanish.
  • Consumer Tips provided by the Department of Financial Services. Click for the Spanish version.
  • Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s AOB Resources
  • Post-Loss Assignment of Benefits Fact Sheet by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation
  • Consumer Protection Coalition’s guide on  how to avoid falling victim to AOB abuse
  • Call your insurance agent with further questions.
  • Contact the Insurance Consumer Helpline if further assistance is needed, 1-877-693-52-36
Newsworthy

Report Points to Problems with AOBs, and a Way Around One Proposed Fix

As the Legislature debates restricting attorney fees in insurance litigation involving assignment-of-benefits agreements, a tort-reform group has identified a way to circumvent that fix. Attorneys could convince policyholders to file suit in their own name. A report, “Restoring Balance in Insurance Litigation,” released Monday by the Florida Justice Reform Institute, discusses that possibility in the context of…

Details

Lawmakers Set to Take Another Stab at Fixing Insurance Claims Abuses

Sun Sentinel – Ron Hurtibise Groundhog Day isn’t until Feb. 2, but two legislative meetings scheduled next week in Tallahassee will likely have a “been-there, done-that” feel to many of the participants. Banking and insurance panels from the state Senate and House will kick off this year’s efforts to solve the “assignment of benefits” problem…

Details

Water Claims Could Lead To More Citizens Policies

CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Increases in water-damage claims — primarily in South Florida — will likely reverse years of downsizing by the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance, board members were advised Wednesday as they approved a hike in the corporation’s operating budget. Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway said efforts to shed policies have already slowed…

Details

Water Claims Could Lead to More Citizens Policies

By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Increases in water-damage claims — primarily in South Florida — will likely reverse years of downsizing by the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance, board members were advised Wednesday as they approved a hike in the corporation’s operating budget. Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway said…

Details

Litigated Water Claims, ‘Assignment of Benefits’ (AOB) to Top Citizens 2017 Challenges

Florida Trend – News Release Rising water claims and “out of control” litigation threaten the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation’s long-term financial stability and will stifle efforts by Citizens to offer premium breaks to policyholders in 2017, Citizens leaders stressed during a governing board meeting on Wednesday. Barring significant changes, including possible legislative action on assignment…

Details

Pricier Than Necessary Hurricane Repairs in St. Johns County Could Become a Concern, Official Says

St Augustine Record – Sheldon Garner As people work to return to their homes impacted by Hurricane Matthew, some might end up being charged more than they should for repair work or running into other problems. With pressures surrounding rebuilding and being displaced after a storm, it becomes common to hear stories of homeowners who…

Details

Editorial: Florida Water Scam Is Soaking Consumers, Must Be Plugged

Palm Beach Post – August 30, 2016 State-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is looking for a 9 percent increase from Palm Beach County homeowners – and an average 6.8 percent statewide – even though there hasn’t been a hurricane in more than 10 years. The reason has nothing to do with the ravages of nature.…

Details