After years of failure, Florida is trying again to address insurance reform this session. It’s targeting a practice known as assignment of benefits.
An “AOB” is an agreement that, once signed transfers an insurance claim or benefit to a third party. The third party would then have authority to file a claim, make repair decisions and collect insurance payments without your involvement. Similar to how health insurance and doctors’ bills work.
Critics of AOB in home insurance argue it drives up costs. Supporters say it helps contractors be paid properly and ensures insurance companies don’t low-ball owners. Lawmakers want to make it harder for contractors to use AOB, but Republican Sen. Doug Broxson acknowledges it can be of use in an emergency.
“We have added to the bill an emergency repair that will be capped at 3,000… An assignment of benefits can be made for the emergency repair… addition AOB’s can be assigned per permanent repairs. Consumers can rescind an AOB or AOB’s within the first 14 days of execution or 30 days after the execution of the agreement if service provider has not performed substantial repairs” he says.
The original version of the bill sought to cap attorney’s fees.
Democratic Senator Perry Thurston feels the proposal still needs more changes before getting his approval. He filed a late amendment.
“ It removes the 3,000 and 1% on the assignment which, we think is somewhat arbitrary which would be created at a time of an emergency. In our opinion, it’s a time when the homeowners need the most help not to be restricted and certainly we can come back and address that amount", he says.
But the Pompano Beach native’s language was withdrawn. Still, it got support from Air Quality Assessors of Florida’s president, Richie Kidwell. He says the language would have balanced the needs of contractors like him and insurers.
“We do feel like it’s more favorable. It’s something we can work with. It’s Something that doesn’t deny the small contractor the opportunity to work the homeowner that needs our services. Over the years, we’ve tried other solutions to try to minimize the amount of exposure that we have here to keep our rights as independent contractors", he says.”
Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis is landing his support to Assignment of Benefits reform. He’d like to see lawmakers pass something during the next 60 days.
“ And if we don’t do anything for another 60 days then we’re just sticking the citizens of the state of Florida with another higher bill because we will continue to pass on the struggles and frustrations that these sides will not get together to discuss and work out. So, unfortunately sometimes you have to be the adult in the room and force legislation upon them", he says.
With a 5 to 2 vote, the bill passed the committee, after being stalled for weeks.