Please call Lee Gorodetsky@954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial & life, health Investments & group benefits as well.

PROPERTY

  1. AOB REFORM  SB62/SB1168/HB7015

 

An onerous version of AOB reform is on the move in the Senate. SB1168, by Senator Steube, passed its second committee of three committees on February 6th, but no action last week. SB1168 also amends current law to provide that a misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact, or incorrect statement on an insurance application may prevent recovery only if the misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact, or incorrect statement directly relates to the cause of the claim. If the misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact or incorrect statement directly relates to the cause of the claim, one of the following must apply:

  • The misrepresentation, omission, concealment, or statement is fraudulent or is material to the acceptance of the risk or to the hazard assumed by the insurer; or
  • If the true facts relative to the loss claimed had been known to the insurer pursuant to a policy requirement or other requirement, the insurer in good faith would not have:
    • Issued the policy or contract;
    • Issued the policy or contract at a premium rate at least 20 percent higher than the rate actually charged;
    • Issued a policy or contract in as large an amount; or
    • Provided coverage with respect to the hazard resulting in the loss.

 

In addition, SB1168 also amends current law to prohibit an insurer from utilizing “managed repair” controls, such as requiring that a particular vendor make repairs to a dwelling insured on the basis of replacement costs. It also prohibits the insurer from even recommending or suggesting a particular vendor to make repairs to a dwelling insured on the basis of replacement costs.

 

The bill also requires the assignee to provide a copy of the assignment agreement to the insurer within the earlier of 7 days after execution of the agreement, or 48 hours after beginning nonemergency work if the insurer has a facsimile number and e-mail address on its website designated for the delivery of such documents. It allows the insurer to inspect the property at any time. If the insurer fails to attempt in good faith to inspect the property within 7 days after learning of the loss and promptly deliver to the assignee written notice of any perceived deficiency in the assignee’s notice or the work being performed; however, the failure may be raised to estop the insurer from asserting that work done was not reasonably necessary or that the notice was insufficient.

SB1168 passed the Judiciary committee with 7 yeas, and 3 nays in week five. Committee Chairman Greg Steube pushed an amendment that eliminated language that prohibits carriers from factoring any attorney fees into their premium. The bill now has one more committee in the Senate. We continue working to stop this bill from advancing.

Industry’s preferred AOB bill is SB62 by Senator Hukill, which has not been scheduled for a committee hearing and is unlikely to advance given the composition of the Banking & Insurance committee in the Senate.

 

Meanwhile, the Florida House of Representatives AOB reform HB 7015 by Representative Trumbull was sent to the Senate in the first week of the legislative session. While the House version is not a perfect solution, the bill makes significant changes to the way property repair vendors are restricted in their use of an “assignment of benefits” or “AOB.”   The bill requires disclosures be provided to insureds before entering into an AOB. It also moves to a “loser pays” attorney fee system. The House legislation provides the insured with an opportunity to rescind the assignment within 7 days of entering into the contract with the vendor. Further, the bill increases consumer protections and required vendors to provide written estimates of the work to be completed and required the assignee to notify the insurer of the assignment within 3 days of it being executed.   While it would be better to eliminate attorneys’ fees to repair vendors altogether, this bill is an improvement over the current system.

 

In the end, it is unlikely that the House and Senate versions of AOB will match up. But if the House bill moves toward the Senate version, it will be a weaker product and possibly even onerous.

Advertisements