The 2016 session of the Florida Legislature is in the home stretch, and lawmakers are still working toward a solution on many important issues, including assignment of benefits (AOB).
Say you wake up one morning to find your bathroom is flooded with water. You immediately call a water remediation company, and they ask you to sign a document that allows them to directly bill the insurance company so “you don’t have to worry about it.” That might sound like a good idea, but as soon as the homeowner signs that piece of paper, they lose control of their claim and their rights under the policy and any litigation associated with it.
Many of these vendors inflate claims costs, and when an insurance company doesn’t immediately pay the claim, lawyers are quick to file a lawsuit because under the law they can collect one-way attorney fees. The major influx of AOB claims and lawsuits is hurting Floridians and potentially driving up insurance costs for everyone.
It is important for lawmakers to address AOB abuse now before this problem becomes worse. We need AOB reforms that protect Floridians and make sure the homeowner always stays in control of their own policy.
Raymond Blacklidge is a Pinellas Park-based insurance executive.