AOB reform bill signals end to decade-long fight, advocates claim victory

By John Suayan | May 3, 2019

TALLAHASSEE – The decade-long fight to address “assignment of benefits” concluded last week with proponents committed to its reform claiming victory in the form of Senate Bill 122.

On April 24, Florida lawmakers approved the measure that will counter what insurance industry and consumers advocates asserted was a form of abuse responsible for a spike in insurance claims in the Sunshine State in recent years.

The state senate delivered a 25-14 vote in support of the legislation, its language stating that insurers are authorized “to make available property insurance policies restricting the assignment of post-loss benefits under certain conditions” and “residential or commercial property insurance policies may not prohibit the assignment of post-lost benefits.” SB 122, which was sponsored by Sen. Doug Broxson (R-Gulf Breeze), was a committee substitute for House Bill 7065, which garnered House approval earlier this month.

After seven years of unsuccessful attempts, Florida will finally see an end to rising premiums.

As supporters of SB 122 and HB 7065, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and its Consumer Protection Coalition expressed satisfaction with the long-overdue effort to reign in “abusive and fraudulent practices that have been harming consumers and driving out-of-control litigation.”

“This is a great day for Florida’s consumers,’’ said Edie Ousley, vice president of public affairs for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which spearheads the coalition, in a statement. “Closing the AOB loophole will finally curb the rampant litigation over homeowner claims and stop the bad actors from abusing the system for their own gain. We look forward to seeing this bill signed into law.’’

The statement quoted AOB reform advocate Charles Snellgrove, of Clearwater, as saying that the legislation returns the power back to the people in making decisions about their insurance claims.

The CPC stated that while it celebrates the bill’s passage, it expressed disappointment over the lack of auto provisions in the legislation and encouraged lawmakers to address auto glass in future AOB reforms.

“Thousands of Floridians have unknowingly become the subject of litigation over their windshield replacement claims without their knowledge or consent,” the CPC said. “This practice must stop.”

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