The Florida regional manager for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA), believes bad actors will no longer be able to take advantage of homeowners when it comes to assignment of benefits (AOB) in the Sunshine State.
Logan McFaddin told the Florida Record that before the 2019 legislative session and subsequent passage of HB7065, abuse was quickly getting out of control. The Insurance Information Institute reported AOB litigation reached 135,000 cases in the first three quarters of 2018, up from 1,300 AOB lawsuits in all of 2000.
“Sen. Doug Broxson, Rep. Bob Rommel, Senate President Bill Galvano and House Speaker Jose Oliva recognized there was a problem and worked on a solution to protect Floridians,” McFaddin said.
Now policyholders can still sue and avail themselves of the existing attorney fee provisions, while also entering into an assignment of benefits with a provider or repair vendor who can still sue on their behalf as well, according to McFaddin.
“What the bill does is require the assignment to be in writing, including requiring disclosure to the consumer what the assignment actually means,” he said.
“Many of the consumers were signing over their benefits without really knowing what they were signing and entering into long legal battles.”
Auto glass repair schemes are another example of AOB abuse in Florida that need to be addressed, according to McFaddin, who said data shows skyrocketing litigation is impacting insurance costs for consumers. He said, unfortunately, auto glass repair abuse was amended out of the bill, but he hopes it will be a top priority in 2020. Meanwhile, he said, lawmakers made history by passing legislation that makes texting while driving a primary offense.
Lawmakers also created a hands-free zone within school and work areas, he added.
“Our elected officials also took an important step in combating a growing distracted driving epidemic endangering everyone on Florida’s roadways,” McFaddin said. “We thank Gov. Ronald DeSantis’ leadership for signing this good bill into law, and we commend Sen. Wilton Simpson and Reps. Jackie Toledo and Emily Slosberg.”