While passage of reforms to homeowners' assignment of benefits (AOB) insurance law was hailed by business interests in the last legislative session, advocates now have sights set on advancing auto glass AOB reform.
“As to why legislation wasn’t successful last year, I think that there was a lot of support for property AOB reform, and while some of us were very vocal about the need for reform on auto glass, I think property was the centerpiece,” Ashley Kalifeh, an attorney and consultant to the Florida Justice Reform Institute (FJRI) in Tallahassee, told the Florida Record. “Additionally, some of the auto glass vendors and attorneys who use this business model have gotten more organized in the last year or so, and were opposed to such reforms.”
The FJRI supports changing AOB auto glass legislation on several fronts, including prohibiting third parties from obtaining attorney fees in auto glass AOB litigation, requiring full informed consent when a policyholder signs an auto glass AOB, and allowing a policyholder to rescind an auto glass AOB within a certain window of time.
“Regarding efforts for this year, I believe that is something that both the insurance committees and civil justice committees will be looking at,” Kalifeh said. “I know they want to be data driven in their analysis, and so FJRI is working hard to provide research and information to add to the depth of that conversation.”
Florida’s chief financial officer has advocated further reform of AOB in the upcoming legislative session, with auto glass coverage a primary focus.
In a video posted by the Florida Chamber of Commerce last month, state CFO Jimmy Petronis noted that AOB litigation had increased drastically in recent years, from about 400 suits in 2006 to more than 35,000 expected this year.
“The lion’s share of that exploitation is the windshield glass fraud that takes place,” Petronis said in the video. “The auto glass version of AOB has got to be dealt with.”