Insurance industry-backed bills aimed at restricting repair contractors’ ability to require homeowners to sign over insurance benefits before repairs can commence likely won’t become law this year, supporters and opponents concede.
The bills — in the state House and Senate — stemmed from arguments by insurers that water restoration companies in South Florida are padding bills for repair work and then filing hundreds of lawsuits if insurers failed to pay the bills in full.
Contractors counter that allowing homeowners to sign over benefits lets repair work get started immediately — without homeowners having to pay money upfront. Lawsuits have increased, they say, because insurers too often fail to pay claims quickly and refuse to discuss the scope and costs of repairs with them.
Senate and House bills filed by Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, and Rep. John Tobia, R-Melbourne Beach, would have allowed property insurers to prevent homeowners from assigning benefits of their policies to third parties. While the House version stalled in committee, the Senate version was amended to address some of the contractors’ concerns, including allowing assignment of up to $3,000 to repair companies. But homeowners would have been barred from transferring the right to sue insurance companies for payment for materials and repairs.