Let 2019 be the Year the Legislature Puts Consumers Ahead of Trial Lawyer Scams

Right now, your state legislators in Tallahassee have an opportunity to lower the cost of living for Floridians. That’s good news for everyone, but it’s particularly good news for those living in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties that are artificially paying higher home and auto insurance rates than they should.

The reason rates are unusually high in the tri-county region is because Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties are at the epicenter of a home and auto repair abuse scheme that’s sending rates skyrocketing. It’s known as “assignment of benefits,” or AOB, and last year there were more than 135,000 AOB-related lawsuits in Florida – up from just 1,300 in 2000. The numbers are real and alarming.

AOB abuse rewards a few at the expense of many. It’s become a cottage industry for trial lawyers and shady contractors and vendors who roam neighborhoods looking for their next victims.

 

Here’s How It Works

A homeowner wakes up to a water leak in their kitchen and calls a plumber. The plumber encourages the homeowner to hire a vendor for clean-up and damage mitigation. Often secretly, the vendor pays the plumber a “referral fee.”

The vendor then asks the homeowner to sign some forms, saying that they’ll take care of everything including dealing with the insurance company. What the homeowner doesn’t know is their signature transferred all of the rights to their insurance policy over to the vendor who doesn’t have their best interest in mind.

Far too many homeowners are left with shoddy repairs or no repairs made at all, and then the vendor submits inflated repair bills to the insurance company – setting it up to deny the claim because of the overpriced bill. When the claim is denied, the vendor teams up with a trial lawyer to sue the insurance company in the name of the policyholder – without you ever knowing!

 

It Gets Worse

Florida law allows for one-way attorney fees, meaning the vendor’s lawyer gets paid if the insurer settles the lawsuit to avoid a costly legal battle or loses by as little as $1 in court. Bottom line: Vendors are incentivized to sue because they don’t have much to lose.

The AOB scheme didn’t exist until several years ago when a few creative trial lawyers discovered a loophole and started teaching vendors how to use AOBs to pad their profits. From 2008 to 2018, AOB lawsuits increased by over 900 percent, while total lawsuits in that same period increased just over 400 percent. Five firms filed more than 20 percent of all property AOB lawsuits, and even worse, nine firms filed nearly 85 percent of all auto glass AOB cases.

According to the Florida Justice Reform Institute, AOB lawsuits are growing much faster than the population, going from little more than a few hundredths of a point as a fraction of Florida’s population to nearly a full three-quarters of a percent now.

Eleanor Posner of Delray Beach can attest to how bad the problem is. She became a victim of AOB abuse following a water leak in her laundry room. A vendor charged her insurance company $12,000 for the water removal and drying, then filed a lawsuit when the insurer disputed the inflated amount. Because she signed an AOB, she was powerless to do anything about it and lived in fear of the vendor coming after her for the balance or placing a lien on her home.

 

Helping to Stop AOB Abuse

The Consumer Protection Coalition, spearheaded by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, is leading the effort to help stop these abusive practices. AOB reform is vital to lowering the cost of living on families – Floridians that fill the jobs that keep our state’s economy growing.

We’ve joined in supporting AOB reform legislation in the Florida House and Senate – reform that the Wall Street Journal has for two years said is long overdue. Governor Ron DeSantis said recently he hopes lawmakers pass legislation to reform AOB, which has “degenerated into a racket.” Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier and Citizens Property Insurance Corp. President and CEO Barry Gilway also have warned that something must be done to stop the abuse.

 

Floridians Supporting a Legislative Fix March to Capitol

Shoring up that support are the voices of more than 10,000 Floridians who have signed petitions calling on lawmakers to close the loophole that lines the pockets of a few trial lawyers while it harms everyday Floridians.

With hurricane season only a few months away, Floridians simply can’t wait any longer.

Join Us in Calling on Lawmakers to Make 2019 the Year AOB Reform Finally Passes

  1. Contact your Representative and Senators – encourage them to pass AOB reform (SB 122 & HB 7065).
  2. Sign the petition for AOB reform.
  3. Be the first to know when registration opens for the Florida Chamber’s annual Insurance Summit taking place November 2019.

 

PS: Earlier this morning, the Florida House took an additional step toward AOB reform when it passed HB 7065 out of the House Judiciary Committee. It is expected to be heard by the full House soon.

 

 

March 28, 2019

Senate Takes Steps Toward AOB Reform 

 

Consumer Protection Coalition

 

On January 22, the Senate Committee on Banking & Insurance met to discuss an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) reform bill that will help reign in AOB abuse — Senate Bill 122.

The Florida Chamber applauds Senator Doug Broxson for proposing SB 122 and the committee for engaging in bold dialogue and seeking meaningful insights from industry experts, including Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, the Office of Insurance Regulation and Citizens Property Insurance. 

Meaningful reforms have failed to cross the finish line in past years and as a result, we have seen hardworking individuals continue to fall victim to shady contractors who have convinced them to sign away their rights— ultimately leaving them high and dry without recourse.

Consider that, in 2006, there were only 405 AOB-related lawsuits. Last year, the number skyrocketed to more than 34,000.

We cannot afford another year without AOB reform. 

Engage With Us

  1. Visit the Consumer Protection Coalition to see how you can fight fraud today.
  2. Connect with Florida’s new Governor, members of the Cabinet and the Florida Legislature during the Florida Chamber’s 2019 Legislative Fly-In and Global Florida Dinner.

New Study Says AOB Abuse Increasing Insurance Costs in Florida

A new study released by the Insurance Information Institute confirms Florida’s assignment of benefits (AOB) crisis is costing Floridians billions of dollars in unnecessary litigation and inflated claim costs and is continuing to spread statewide.

“We estimate Florida’s auto and homeowner policyholders have paid about $2.5 billion in insurer legal costs over the past dozen years, a troubling trend driven by plaintiff’s attorneys who are abusing Florida’s current AOB system,” said James Lynch, the I.I.I.’s chief actuary. “That doesn’t count the billions more in excess claim settlements that are at the heart of the problem.”

According to the report, in Florida, abuse of AOBs has fueled an insurance crisis. Florida’s legal environment, the report adds, has encouraged vendors and their attorneys to solicit unwarranted AOBs from tens of thousands of Floridians, conduct unnecessary or unnecessarily expensive work, then file tens of thousands of lawsuits against insurance companies that deny or dispute the claims.

The I.I.I.’s report citing AOB lawsuit abuse is supported by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) which last week announced Florida as the worst “Judicial Hellhole” behind only California.

The Florida Chamber and its Consumer Protection Coalition are leading efforts to reform Florida’s “one-way attorney fee” statute that is fueling AOB abuse.

“This new report highlights the price that Florida’s hard-working families are paying because of unchecked AOB abuse and out-of-control litigation,” Edie Ousley, Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, told the Insurance Journal. “We look forward to working with Governor-elect Ron DeSantis and the new leadership in the Senate and House to pass real consumer protections and put an end to AOB abuse during the 2019 legislative session.”

 

Learn More and Take Action

  • Read the complete Insurance Information Institute report here.
  • Read the latest on the report from the Insurance Journal here.
  • Learn why ATRA ranks Florida the worstJudicial Hellhole behind California.
  • Take action! Sign the Consumer Protection Coalition petition seeking legislative action to reform AOB abuse.

 

Important Message from CFO Jimmy Patronis

Below is an important message from Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis regarding your home and auto insurance benefits.

 

Consumer Protection Coalition

 

 

Take Action Today

Share this message with your family, friends and coworkers, and help prevent other Floridians from becoming a victim of AOB abuse by sharing on Facebook and Twitter.

Business Coalition Meets Hurricane Season With Consumer Warning Against AOB Abuse and Fraud

The Florida Chamber’s Consumer Protection Coalition has issued an alert warning Florida homeowners and insured drivers to beware of Assignment of Benefits (AOB) scams this hurricane season. The warning coincides with the launch of a new series of digital ads aimed at protecting people from becoming victims of AOB abuse.
….

“This hurricane season, Floridians need to be aware of AOB abuse and not become a victim,’’ said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the coalition’s main driver.”

Read the full Florida Politics article. 

 

Three Ways You Can Help

  1. Share this Consumer Warning to warn Florida policyholders of AOB lawsuit scams
  2. Sign the petition to stop AOB property insurance scams
  3. Sign the petition to stop AOB auto glass scams

United Business Community Can Win the War

 

Voice of Reason

June 2017

For years I’ve been warning about the growing power of TV trial lawyers over the Florida Legislature. It was none more apparent than this year’s regular legislative session.

Throughout session, politicians put short-term politics ahead of Florida’s long-term security, and ignored rising workers’ compensation rates on job creators, and rising property insurance rates on Florida’s families and workers. The lack of courage demonstrated by some in the Florida Legislature was so apparent, it prompted the Wall Street Journal to ask, “Does Florida’s legislature exist to enrich plaintiffs attorneys or to serve the Sunshine State’s voters?”

Lawmakers were well educated on the problem early on. Leading up to the 2017 Legislative Session, Florida businesses were hit with $1.5 billion in increased costs due to a series of workers’ comp court decisions. And rising property insurance rates – as much as 10 percent higher – were being forced onto homeowners to cover the ever-increasing cost of water losses due to a “homeowner fraud tax” that’s become a lucrative niche industry for some TV trial lawyers and shady contractors. A similar scam is haunting auto owners.

During session, the Florida House passed Florida Chamber-supported bills that addressed both problems. Yet the Florida Senate opted to ignore the House’s legislation, and instead considered a bill actually written by trial lawyers that did nothing to tackle rising workers’ comp rates, the attorney fees at the heart of the problem, or rising property insurance rates.

The legislative session is now in the rear view mirror, but Florida small businesses, workers and families are now forced to deal with the rising cost of legislative inaction in the form of higher insurance premiums. At the Florida Chamber, we won’t give up.

Workers’ Compensation

A $1.5 billion increase in workers’ comp rates stunts economic opportunities and impacts employees who should be receiving the health care they need and getting back to work quickly. Many businesses are just now learning of the workers’ comp rate increase, and getting their first bill with the higher rates. The Florida Chamber and its Workers’ Comp Task Force will continue standing up for job creators, fighting to protect workers, and working with elected leaders to enact reforms to help make Florida more competitive. Add your voice to our work improving Florida’s workers’ comp system by contacting Carolyn Johnson.

Assignment of Benefits

We’re committed to protecting homeowners and auto owners from this rampant fraud and abuse. Far too often home and auto owners are unaware that by signing an AOB for repairs means they’re signing away their rights, and making themselves and their insurance carrier vulnerable to scam tactics and lawsuits. The Florida Chamber and our Consumer Protection Coalition continue to partner with leading organizations across Florida to raise awareness and seek legislative resolutions. In between now and the next legislative session, you’ll see our digital public service announcements designed to protect Floridians and strengthen our message. Join our mounting efforts to combat AOB fraud and abuse by contacting Edie Ousley.
We will continue our efforts to identify and elect pro-jobs, pro-business candidates to the Florida Legislature that will put Florida’s long-term economic future ahead of political quick fixes. And we’ll continue working with our partners, providing a united business community, to stand on the front lines fighting these battles on behalf of Florida small business, workers and families.

We can win this together.

Your Homeowners Insurance Rates…ON THE RISE AGAIN

Citizens Property Insurance Corp.’s Board of Governors has approved a proposal to raise homeowners’ insurance rates by an average 5.3 percent statewide next year, citing “out of control’’ water loss claims associated with assignment of benefits (AOB).

This increase is exactly what the Consumer Protection Coalition has warned against and underscores our position that state lawmakers must pass legislation to reform AOB abuse that is hurting Florida’s consumers and threatening the affordability of homeownership. A news article in today’s edition of the Orlando Sentinel, Citizens to ask Florida for insurance-rate hikes, blaming water claims, Citizens Chairman Chris Gardner said the proposed rate increases, which must be approved by state regulators, are “critical for Citizens’ effort to bring some relief to a market that is being made increasingly expensive by unnecessary litigation and out-of-control water loss claims. Unfortunately, we are making it more expensive for many of our customers to own a home.’’

 

Help Fight AOB Abuse

  1. Share this message with your friends, family and coworkers, and ask them to…
  2. Sign the petition to encourage lawmakers to stop AOB fraud and abuse, and protect consumers from increasing homeowners and auto insurance rates.
  3. Stay up to date on important AOB-related news updates by following the Consumer Protection Coalition on Twitter at @CPC_FL and “liking” the Coalition on Facebook at com/ConsumerProtectionCoalition

AOB Fraud and Abuse is Targeting Home and Auto Owners

The Florida Chamber of Commerce and its Consumer Protection Coalition have long-warned about a scam known as Assignment of Benefits (AOB) that is making it more expensive for Floridians to own a home and a car. Today there’s further evidence of just how bad the situation in Florida is…and it’s impacting your employees.

A story today by The Tampa Bay Times shows just how bad it is in Florida – a 1,300 percent increase in the number of lawsuits filed by third party contractors against insurance companies.

Here’s How It Works

In communities across Florida, car and truck owners are approached at a gas station or car wash by auto glass repair vendors claiming they can replace cracked or chipped windshields for free. The auto owner signs an AOB – giving away control of their insurance policy to a third party auto glass vendor. The vendor then submits an inflated claim to the auto insurance company, and then files a lawsuit if the insurer refuses to pay the outrageously ridiculous priced repair.

Making the situation worse are one-way attorney fees that require insurers to pay the other party’s legal fees.

Don’t Become a Victim; Here’s How You Can Help

The Florida Chamber and the Consumer Protection Coalition encourage you to beware of this scam, and help us educate your employees.

  1. Sign this petition asking lawmakers to put a stop to AOB abuse in home repairs and auto glass repairs.
  2. Help us spread this message to more Floridians by chipping in $100 toward our Public Service Campaign to alert consumers just like you.

Legislative Inaction Leading to Higher Insurance Rates

Less than a week after the 2017 Legislative Session ended without much-needed Assignment of Benefits (AOB) reform, Florida homeowners are already starting to see the negative impact in the form of higher insurance rates. This week, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that state insurance regulators directed two insurance companies operating in South Florida to raise rates because of high costs associated with excessive claims and steep losses.

These rate increases – 16 percent for one company and 8 percent for another – were even higher than what the insurance companies had requested. Actuaries with the Florida Office of Insurance of Regulation, based on their review of the companies’ losses, determined the increases were necessary to ensure the companies remain financially sound and their policyholders adequately protected.

These increases are exactly what the Florida Chamber of Commerce and its Consumer Protection Coalition warned – that lawmakers’ failure to protect consumers from AOB abuse will result in higher insurance bills and put home ownership out of reach for many Floridians. This week’s story in the Sun-Sentinel says water losses in the tri-county area of South Florida necessitated the rate increases. Without legislation to curb the abuse, homeowners can expect to pay thousands of dollars more for insurance over the next five years.

Despite legislative action this session, the Florida Chamber and its Consumer Protection Coalition remain committed to stopping this scam and will continue fighting to stop AOB abuse by pushing lawmakers to enact reform next session.

How You Can Help

  1. Invest in the Florida Chamber’s Consumer Protection Coalition and help increase awareness of this scam, as well as solutions to reform the problem.
  2. Share this message with your friends, family and coworkers, and ask them to…
  3. Sign this petition to encourage lawmakers to stop AOB fraud and abuse, and protect consumers from rising homeowners rates.

Florida House Passes Bill Cracking Down on Assignment of Benefits Consumer Abuses

The Florida House of Representatives today passed a bill cracking down on Assignment of Benefits (AOB) abuse against consumers – a Florida Chamber of Commerce top priority.

House Bill 1421, sponsored by Rep. James “J.W.” Grant, includes consumer protections that would curb abusive AOB practices that are driving up the cost of insurance and threatening the affordability of home ownership for many Floridians.

“The House’s action is a big step toward ending costly AOB abuse and protecting Florida’s homeowners and businesses,’’ said EDIE OUSLEY, Vice President of Public Affairs for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “With less than two weeks left in the legislative session, we urge the Senate to recognize the impact that AOB abuse is having on consumers’ wallets and approve the House bill before another year passes without protections for Florida families.’’

Why It Matters

Florida insurance regulators and Citizens Property Insurance Corp. have provided legislators clear evidence of the growing problem of AOB abuse, its impact in driving up costs for consumers, and the dramatically rising number of AOB lawsuits. Without reforms, homeowners – especially those in the tri-county area of South Florida – can expect to see their homeowners’ insurance premiums increase by thousands of dollars over the next five years.

HB 1421 contains commonsense provisions to protect consumers against unscrupulous repair vendors who, working in cahoots with litigious trial attorneys, pressure homeowners into signing over their insurance policies, and then inflate the cost and scope of repair work and file lawsuits against insurers that refuse to pay. While the legislation does not eliminate one-way attorney fees, which are the single biggest factor driving the explosion of AOB lawsuits, it does provide some restrictions on their use aimed at reducing incentives for third parties to sue insurers over inflated claims.

Here’s How You Can Help

The Florida Chamber and its Consumer Protection Coalition are actively advocating to stop AOB fraud and abuse. Add your name to the nearly 2,000 homeowners that have signed a petition encouraging lawmakers to pass meaningful consumer protections.

Calling on Lawmakers to Protect Florida Consumers from AOB Abuse in Florida

 

WATCH video from the press conference.

Consumer Protection Coalition: “Time to Act on AOB Fraud & Abuse is Today”

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 6, 2017) – In front of the Florida House Chamber, the Consumer Protection Coalition, a  broad-based group of business leaders, consumer advocates, real estate agents, construction contractors, insurance agents and insurance trade groups, today called on Florida lawmakers to protect Florida consumers and pass meaningful reforms to end Assignment of Benefits (AOB) abuse in the Sunshine State.

 

“We are halfway through the 2017 Legislative Session, and it appears another year may pass without meaningful reforms to end AOB abuse in Florida,” said DULCE SUAREZ-RESNICK, independent insurance agent in Miami and member of the Latin American Association of Insurance Agents.  “Make no mistake: If the Legislature fails to address the growing cancer of AOB for a fifth straight year, Florida’s hardworking families are the ones that will lose.  Our leaders have crystal clear evidence that AOB fraud and abuse is threatening the affordability of homeownership for average Floridians.  For lower-income families and those on fixed incomes, it could literally put the dream of homeownership out of reach.”

 

In Miami-Dade County, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) projects that without AOB reforms, the average premium for homeowners will skyrocket from $9,847 this year to $15,859 by 2022.  An increase of more than $6,000 in five years.

 

“At the beginning of the year, Citizens announced reining in out-of-control lawsuits over water damage claims and AOB abuse were a top legislative priority,” said BARRY GILWAY, president and CEO of Citizens.  “And, just a week ago, Citizens reported a net loss of more than $27 million for 2016 – our first annual loss in 11 years.  The reason is the unjustifiable explosion of water loss claims we are facing, AOB abuse and lawsuits that are seriously eroding our bottom line.”

 

Ninety-six percent of all litigation Citizens faces is coming from the tri-county area of Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.  In just the past three and a half years, Citizens has seen the average severity, or payout, from each litigated water claim rise from $10,000 to $20,000.  In 2011, just 12 percent of the claims Citizens received went into litigation.  By 2015, 45 percent have been litigated.

 

“A cottage industry of trial attorney firms, often partnering with a relatively small group of home repair vendors, are driving the vast majority of lawsuits against Citizens,” said GILWAY.  “A year ago, we were able to provide rate decreases to most of our customers across the state.  This year, 84 percent of our policyholders will see rate increases, because of this water damage claims and AOB litigation phenomenon.  Without significant statutory reforms, Citizens will be forced to pass these costs on to our customers in the form of higher rates for the foreseeable future.”

 

“I’ve seen first-hand the AOB abuse that’s happening in our neighborhoods and reform is urgently needed,” said RALPH DAVIS, local contractor and president of Streamline Roofing & Construction.  “AOB fraud and abuse is driving up the costs of home repairs and is hurting homeowners who are often unaware of the risks they face when they sign an AOB.  It’s hurting the reputation of our industry and all of the good roofing firms and other good contractors who don’t use AOBS and who want to stop the bad behavior.”

 

“Our legislators have heard testimony of plumbers getting paid kick-backs of as much as $2,500 to get a water remediation firm in the door to convince a homeowner to sign an AOB,” said DAVIS.  “That’s just plain wrong.  Florida homeowners don’t need to sign an AOB with a contractor to get repairs done, and roofers and other contractors don’t need AOBs to get paid.  The system that has been in place for years – having homeowners direct their insurers to pay us under their policies – has worked.  As a roofer who prides himself in making an honest dollar for an honest day’s work, I am calling on members of the House and Senate to step up and protect Florida consumers from AOB fraud and abuse.”

 

“As a member of the Florida Realtors, I know well that for most Floridians, their home is their largest investment,” said MARILYN PEARSON-ADAMS, vice chair of public policy for the Florida Realtors.  “Home ownership is still the key to the American dream and is vital to building strong communities. Floridians on fixed incomes are particularly vulnerable to increases in the ancillary costs of owning a home, such as property taxes, insurance and maintenance.  That’s why Florida Realtors is so concerned about AOB fraud and abuse, and is standing with the Consumer Protection Coalition in calling for legislative reform now.”

 

As an example relating to the impact of AOB abuse on middle-class families, state estimates show that in Palm Beach, coverage for a home valued at $155,000 will rise from $2,210 this year to $3,559 in 2022 without reform. In Broward, that premium would jump from $2,390 to $3,850.

 

“It is heartbreaking to see hardworking families scrimp and save to be able to qualify for a mortgage only to learn that these overhead costs end up busting-the-budget,” said PEARSON-ADAMS.  “These premium increases, mostly due to AOB scams, are already putting homeownership further out of reach for many families in South Florida and will start to impact families in other areas of the state without prompt legislative action.  Florida’s realtors, who help people achieve dreams and help fuel our state’s economy, are urging the Legislature to act.”

 

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has warned the Florida Legislature for five years about AOB fraud and abuse.  The time to act is clear:

  • Citizens has posted its first net loss in a decade, largely because of this problem;
  • The Florida Justice Reform Institute has reported that from 2010 to 2016 alone, the number of AOB lawsuits has skyrocketed from about 25,000 to over 100,000 – an increase of 300 percent; and
  • Worst of all, AOB fraud and abuse is threatening the affordability of home ownership for consumers insured by both Citizens and private insurers.

 

“Today, the Consumer Protection Coalition is delivering nearly 2,000 petitions signed by people across the state to our Senate and House leaders,” said CAROLYN JOHNSON, director of business, economic development and innovation policy with the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “These are real Floridians who want real reform on AOB fraud and abuse, and they want it now.  Our coalition is calling on Senate and House leaders to allow hearings on bills that we strongly believe will offer the best protection to homeowners and get at the heart of the AOB problem.”

 

“There is no question one-way attorney fees are key to what’s fueling this explosion of AOB litigation,” said JOHNSON.  “Plain and simple, we believe the right to one-way attorney fees should remain with the homeowner – and not be transferred to the water remediation firm, roofer or plumber who solicited an AOB from an unknowing homeowner.  The bottom line is this: If Senate and House members do not come together to pass meaningful AOB reforms this session, the AOB cottage industry will fleece homeowners even more and laugh all the way to the bank.  Expect even more water damage claims. Expect even more lawsuits.  And expect even more pain for the constituents or lawmakers, who will hand over their hard-earned dollars because of inaction. The time to act on AOB fraud and abuse is today.”

 

Also attending the press conference today were Representative Rene Plasencia and Office of Insurance Regulation Commissioner David Altmaier.

In addition to the press conference held today, the Consumer Protection Coalition recently hit the airwaves with a video and radio spot.

For more information on the Consumer Protection Coalition, please visit FightFraud.today, follow @CPC_FL and like @ConsumerProtectionCoalition.

 

# # #

Wall Street Journal Warns of Plaintiff Attorney Get-Rich-Quick Scheme

The Wall Street Journal today exposed secrets behind a property insurance fraud and abuse scam wreaking havoc on Florida homeowners. It’s a scheme that the Florida Chamber of Commerce and partners at the Consumer Protection Coalition have targeted for reform.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

In a nationwide editorial, Florida’s Trial Bar Hurricane: Legal abuse threatens insurers that absorb extreme weather risk, the WSJ says:

“…taxpayers will still get whacked with Category 5 bills if Tallahassee doesn’t shut down the state’s latest plaintiffs attorney get-rich-quick scheme.”

…..

“Sunshine State lawyers, in cahoots with local contractors, are crisscrossing the state encouraging homeowners to sign away their insurance rights, a practice known as ‘assignment of benefits,’ or AOB….”

“…insurance costs are predictably soaring. Citizens Property Insurance Corp.…has seen litigated claims jump to 45% of all claims in 2016, up from 12% in 2011….Private insurers are seeing similar trends and are passing the costs along to policyholders.”

…..

“How long can homeowners bear double-digit premium hikes?”….“This man-made fiscal hurricane is swirling…”

“..legislative fixes have been thwarted in recent years by the state’s powerful plaintiffs-lawyer lobby, and competing bills would bless the trial bar’s practices.”

“Florida homeowners already face risks from hurricanes, hail storms and other natural phenomena. Do they need to face the unnatural disaster knows as plaintiffs attorneys too?”

Here’s How You Can Help

  1.  Share this consumer alert with your friends, family and colleagues, and help prevent future victims.
  2. Sign this petition to encourage lawmakers to take legislative action to protect consumers. The fight ahead is steep and your voices are needed.
  3. Watch this video to learn how the AOB scam is abusing homeowners.

For more information, contact Carolyn Johnson at 850-521-1235.

Florida Property Insurance Fraud, Don’t Sign Your Rights Away

In Florida, there’s a rapidly growing scam in which a few shady home repair vendors pressure homeowners to sign away the rights and benefits of their insurance policies as a condition of performing work. This practice has led to grossly inflated claims and an explosion of Assignment of Benefit lawsuits against insurers, which is driving up the cost of homeowners’ coverage for consumers.

SHARE OUR VIDEO: Click on the arrow in the top right corner of the video.

Take Action Now

SHARE this video on social media or with your employees by tagging @FLChamber
SIGN the petition to urge the Florida Legislature to reign in Assignment of Benefits abuse and protect consumers.
LEARN MORE about the Florida Chamber’s efforts to create a competitive and stable insurance market

Consumer Alert: Beware of Insurance Scams

SHARE this important CONSUMER ALERT with your friends and loved ones.

> JOIN the Florida Chamber’s Consumer Protection Coalition and sign the petition seeking a legislative solution to this scam.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce and its Consumer Protection Coalition urge you to be on the lookout for unscrupulous home repair vendors and trial attorneys that try to profit off the disaster by asking you to sign an Assignment of Benefits (AOB). Remember, consumers do not need to sign an AOB to get storm-related repairs.

 

Post-Hurricane Hermine Consumer Alert
CPCConsumerAlert

 

Why This Matters

Property insurance premiums are increasing across Florida and AOB is to blame. The government-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has recommended an average rate increase of 6.8 percent statewide for residential policies next year to offset an explosion in non-weather-related water loss claims. Here’s what the Palm Beach Post said last week: Florida water scam is soaking consumers, must be plugged.

Citizens’ Rate Increase Further Proof AOB Reform Needed

Citizens Property Insurance Corp.’s proposed statewide rate increases is further proof that Assignment of Benefits (AOB) abuse is hurting homeowners and must be addressed during the 2017 legislative session, the Consumer Protection Coalition said today.

During a rate hearing before the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation today, Citizens said its recommended 6.8 percent rate increase for personal lines policies was necessary to offset an explosion in non-weather-related water loss claims. In many of the claims, a homeowner signed an AOB enabling an unscrupulous home repair vendor to take over the policy, inflate the cost of the claim and file a lawsuit against the insurance company if it disputed the bill.

“It’s unfortunate that Citizens is here today requesting a rate increase because of a legalized scam that allows the bad behavior of a few to punish everyone,’’ said MARK WILSON, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which spearheads the Consumer Protection Coalition. “The coalition has been warning that AOB abuse would directly hit consumers’ wallets, and, regrettably, our fears are coming to fruition.’’

The broad-based coalition of business leaders, consumer advocates, real estate agents, insurance groups and others formed in January to raise awareness about the dangers of AOB abuse and need for reform. The coalition believes that abusive AOB practices and scams are harmful to consumers and jeopardize Florida’s business-friendly environment. The rapidly growing AOB problem also impacts the availability and affordability of insurance, hindering efforts by Citizens, the state-run insurer, to reduce its number of policies and shift homeowners to the private market.

Learn more about today’s hearing by clicking here.

GET INVOLVED:

The Florida Chamber and its Consumer Protection Coalition is sharing your call for AOB reform to stop the fraud and abuse. We’re gaining traction, but need your help to drive the message home. The Florida Chamber and Consumer Protection Coalition is sharing your call for AOB reform to stop the fraud and abuse. Thanks to your support, we’re gaining traction. Help us grow the Coalition by encouraging others to signing this petition.