After witnessing several years of rapidly escalating fraud, the Florida Property & Casualty Association commends the Florida Legislature for passing meaningful assignment of benefits (AOB) reform legislation this year. The passage of HB 7065 signals a significant step in addressing the AOB abuse that has plagued our state, resulting in some of the highest home insurance rates in the nation.
HB 7065 will help stabilize the runaway AOB litigation and provide policyholders with valuable tools to protect themselves against predatory vendors, such as giving policyholders the right to cancel an assignment of benefits agreement. Additionally, this legislation requires notice to the policyholder if a vendor enters into litigation on their claim.
This AOB reform legislation also shuts down vendors’ access to policyholders’ unique one-way attorney fee rights, and instead puts the vendors in a more appropriate business-to-business position where the loser pays the prevailing party’s attorney fees, which is not the case today. It will cause vendors to think twice before they bring a fraudulent lawsuit against an insurance company.
Governor Ron DeSantis, CFO Jimmy Patronis, and Office of Insurance Regulation Commissioner David Altmaier all deserve praise for their efforts to pass AOB reform legislation.
This year, AOB reform discussions shined a spotlight on the impact one-way attorney fees and AOB abuses are having on home affordability and, ultimately, the economy. One-way attorney fees were originally intended to protect homeowners, not plaintiff lawyers and vendors. However, a small group of these individuals now account for the majority of home insurance lawsuits filed in Florida.
“We have seen what can happen when there are no checks and balances on water mitigation and restoration vendors who pressure policyholders to sign over their valuable insurance policy rights during home emergencies. This lack of oversight has also given plaintiff attorneys the ability to file thousands of lawsuits without the possibility of paying the other side’s legal fees when they lose,” said William Stander, executive director of the Florida Property & Casualty Association.
“Finally, we take a step forward in the fight against AOB fraud and abuse. This a true win for Florida homeowners and our state,” Stander concluded.
About the Florida Property & Casualty Association
The FPCA was established in 1997 to represent Florida-based home insurers to foster and promote a healthy and competitive Florida insurance market. Through its lobbying and communications teams, the FPCA works to educate Florida lawmakers, regulators and homeowners on issues and policies that affect property and casualty insurance. The organization is recognized as a source for timely information on insurance legislation and regulation, as well. www.fpcaonline.org