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FL Senators Weigh Assignment of Benefits Changes

Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) chairs the Senate Banking and Insurance committee.
Nick Evans

Florida senators are again tackling assignment of benefits.  The insurance provision has been a thorn in lawmakers’ sides for nearly five years.

The procedure allows homeowners to give negotiating rights to their repair company when their home is damaged.  But insurers argue fraud is behind a sharp rise in the number and cost of claims.  Many lawmakers see the problem, but like Fleming Republican Rob Bradley they want to protect legitimate claims and companies.  He looks to a Pensacola restoration contractor who spoke before the Senate panel.

“My standard—the Bradley standard—is Mr. DeBlander, who everyone in this room seems to agree is a good actor, should be able to have a reasonable access to be paid for the work that he performs on behalf of a homeowner,” Bradley says.

Bradley says companies shouldn’t need to hire lawyers to be fairly compensated for their work.

Meanwhile, committee chair Anitere Flores, a Republican from Miami, wants assurances a reform bill would actually lead to better rates for constituents. 

She says that didn’t happen when lawmakers made changes for auto insurance.

“The insurance companies said no listen just trust us rates are going to go down,” Flores says.  “And then what we saw is that rates not only didn’t go down—they didn’t even stabilize—they went up.”

Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.