February 2016

A Google spokesman couldn’t be immediately reached for comment. An official announcement from Google is expected to be made on Tuesday.

“It was a bit shocking today to hear that they are exiting,” Compare.com CEO Andrew Rose told Insurance Journal.

Rose said he was told it was a global exit, and that Google Compare isn’t just exiting the insurance business but also credit cards, banking products, the mortgage products in the U.S. and the U.K.

Please call L & S  at 1-888-244-7400 for quotes on Home, Auto, Flood, Business & Commercial, & life & Financial products as well. Please enjoy the full article below!



problems. SB 596 passed the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on February 1, with the all-important language stating that an agreement is void if “it purports to assign or transfer the right to enforce payment for post-loss benefits in the policy,” still in the bill. This provision cuts off the vendors from getting attorneys’ fees, and is the root of this problem. Unfortunately, however, several Committee members said their support was contingent on Senator Hukill amending that provision in the next Committee. CS/HB 1097 by Representative Caldwell has removed that “enforcement” provision. CS/HB 671 by Representative Broxson, which passed the House Government Operations Subcommittee on February 8, does not address “enforcement.”

In addition to the enforcement provision, CS/SB 596 would provide for the following:

  •  The insurer must be notified of the assignment within 3 business days; and an estimate for materials and services must be provided.
  • Within 3 business days following the insurer being notified, the policyholder has a right to rescind without penalty, except for reimbursement for work already performed to mitigate or repair; if the Governor has declared a state of emergency, the policyholder has 5 business days.
  • The assignment must contain in 14-point type a statement to the policyholder describing the right to rescind; that the assignment cannot impose any kind of cancellation fee or a check processing fee, or add a provision for overhead and profit; that the final bill cannot exceed the estimate, unless approved by the policyholder and insurer.
  • The transfer of the right to enforce payment is prohibited and anything that prevents or inhibits an insurer from communicating with its policyholder is prohibited.
  • The assignment cannot transfer the authority to adjust, negotiate, or settle the claim to anyone who is not otherwise authorized to do so; and provides that the law will apply to all assignments which are executed after the effective date.
  • The provisions of the bill will not apply to powers of attorney granted to management companies, family members, or guardians.

We are continuing to aggressively lobby for a strong bill on this issue, and will work to prevent a detrimental bill from being passed.
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Florida insurers, consumer and insurance advocates, as well as regulators, are hoping 2016 may finally be the year that legislators address the misuse of assignment of benefits (AOB) for water loss claims that they say has become a rampant and costly problem in the state.

The Consumer Protection Coalition, formed in January to raise awareness of AOB abuse, reports Florida AOB lawsuits have increased 90,000 percent since 2000. Claims of misuse have been primarily isolated to South Florida – particularly in Miami-Dade County – and the stories have stayed under the radar for the most part.

However, the AOB abuse became a statewide headline this past summer when state-run insurer Citizens Property Insurance Corp. highlighted the problem in its 2016 rate filing and requested a rate increase of 3.2 percent for all personal lines policyholders.

“I want to be crystal clear on this issue: water losses are the major reason Citizens is seeking rate hikes for the coming year, especially in South Florida,” President and CEO of Citizens Barry Gilway said at its Aug. 25, 2015 rate hearing before Florida regulators.

Policyholders often don’t understand what they are signing over and unaware if a repair company turns around and sues their insurer. Law firms and repair contractors have been working together on executing these water loss claims because they consider it easy money. Carlson said in most cases, insurers opt to settle the claims.

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