on July 19, 2015 the Miami Herald ran the following op-ed by PIFF Executive Director Michael Carlson:
For three years, state lawmakers have received mounting evidence about a scam in which frazzled homeowners are unknowingly signing away their insurance benefits to shady vendors during home repair emergencies.
This spring’s annual legislative session melted down with lawmakers again failing to enact reforms to address this scheme and protect consumers. But with the start of the 2016 legislative season just a few short months away, there’s yet another opportunity and an urgency to act — because this problem is only getting worse.
Florida law permits a policyholder to assign the benefits of their policy to a third party, such as a contractor or other vendor, after a loss. The law was not intended to permit third parties to assert “ownership” of the claim and all the rights under the policy; it was intended to permit prompt payment by insurers to vendors for the work they perform.
However, in recent years, unscrupulous vendors — primarily water remediation and roofing firms — have systematically demanded broadly worded assignments from homeowners before agreeing to make repairs. Once the homeowner has signed away their policy benefits and rights, these vendors are inflating repair bills and working in tandem with a cadre of trial lawyers to file costly lawsuits against insurers — driving up the costs of property insurance for everyone. The problem extends to the auto glass repair business, where vendors solicit assignments from drivers to replace allegedly chipped or cracked vehicle windows — sometimes fabricating damage.