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The 2018 Florida Legislative Session is underway, and lawmakers have wasted no time taking up legislation to address the assignment of benefits crisis plaguing the state.

While they debate which reform option to back, stakeholders say the Florida Legislature must do something this year to keep an already bad situation from getting worse.

The insurance industry, regulators, and consumer groups have tried unsuccessfully for five years to convince Florida lawmakers to reform the policyholder benefit known as AOB, which allows an insured to sign over their insurance policy rights to a third-party. The insurance industry has continued to call out what they call abuse of AOBs by vendors and attorneys who use an AOB contract to take control of a homeowner’s policy, inflate a claim, then sue an insurance company that disputes the bill.

Evidence of that abuse is mounting in the form of increased litigation and insurance rates.

According to the Consumer Protection Coalition, a group of business leaders, consumer advocates, real estate agents, construction contractors, insurance agents and insurance trade groups fighting for reforms to AOB abuse, the number of lawsuits involving an AOB grew from 405 in 2006 to more than 28,000 in 2016 – an increase of more than 6,800 percent. Last year, 20,000 lawsuits were filed as of July.

But lawmakers have feuded with the industry over the right reforms to enact in previous years, and this year may not be any different.

Please enjoy the full article below;