Florida Chamber Pushes for Assignment of Benefits Reform
By: Carolyn Johnson
The Florida Chamber of Commerce and its Consumer Protection Coalition today attended the Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate’s forum on Florida’s water loss crisis to stress the need for Assignment of Benefits (AOB) reform.
During the forum, we testified that Assignment of Benefits abuse is hurting Florida’s homeowners and businesses and must be stopped before it leads to higher insurance costs for policyholders statewide. Additionally, we delivered 1,000 petitions signed by residents, business owners and other interested parties urging state leaders to add protections to ensure homeowners stay in control of their policies when they seek emergency repairs for such things as a broken kitchen pipe or a roof leak.
“Assignment of Benefits abuse is a scam that causes consumers to lose control of the insurance policies they bought and paid for, fueling costly lawsuits and taking money out of the pockets of hardworking homeowners,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “State legislators and insurance regulators have received clear evidence for four years now that this scam is growing and spreading statewide. We can’t ignore it and think it will go away on its own. We have to take action now.’’
The forum, titled “Troubled Waters: Finding a Balanced Approach to Florida’s Water Loss Crisis,’’ was organized by Insurance Consumer Advocate Sha’Ron James to gather information from various stakeholders about water loss claims abuse. It included presentations by several industry and trade groups that have joined the Florida Chamber’s Consumer Protection Coalition, including the Florida Association of Insurance Agents, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and the Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association. Consumers who have been victimized by AOB abuse also attended the forum to tell their stories.
“When you’re standing ankle deep in water in your home, the first thing you want to do is get rid of the water. You’ll sign anything to get the work done, and you don’t think about what could happen down the road,’’ said Eleanor Posner of Delray Beach, who signed an AOB and later discovered the water remediation company sued her insurance company over what she considered excessive charges. “Companies should not be able to prey on people during a crisis to boost their profits and increase insurance rates for everyone. People need to be aware of this abuse and take steps to prevent it.’’
Join the Florida Chamber’s Consumer Protection Coalition
This broad-based coalition advocates for changes in AOB laws, which currently allow unscrupulous home repair vendors and trial attorneys – often working in tandem – to take control of an insurance policy, then inflate the scope and cost of repair work and file costly lawsuits against insurers who dispute the charges. Visit FightFraud.Today and add your name to growing list of Floridians concerned about AOB fraud and abuse.