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Lawmakers Want To Overhaul Homeowner Insurance Claim Process

Florida Chamber of Commerce

Florida lawmakers want to change the way homeowners manage insurance claims.

Many homeowners use assignment of benefits after an emergency to hand insurance payment directly to contractors. But former Insurance Consumer Advocate Steve Burgess says assignments can lead to higher premiums.

“What we’re seeing from the data is that it’s something that adds costs and, in some circumstances, a lot of costs for the product and what we wanna do is make sure that consumers aren’t paying for unnecessary costs embedded within the insurance product,” Burgess says.

Critics say the practice opens the door to fraudulent claims from contractors who ask insurance companies to pay more than necessary to complete a job. This causes insurers to raise premiums. The Consumer Federation of the Southeast wants to prevent this from happening. Executive Director Jennifer West says homeowners can be taken advantage of if they don’t understand what they’re signing.

“We’re very happy to see some safeguards in place so that the fraud that seems to be on the rise will be prohibited from happening and the consumers will be protected,” West says.

Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) is sponsoring a bill that would make the process clear to homeowners.

Ashley Tressel is a senior Communication and English student at Florida State University. Before WFSU, she interned at the Executive Office of the Governor and The Borgen Project, a national nonprofit for global poverty. She also wrote freelance for Carbonated.tv, a multimedia news site and served as managing editor for the FSU International Programs magazine, Nomadic Noles, in Valencia, Spain. After graduation, Ashley plans to embark on her journalism career somewhere in Colorado.