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Please read below how for 3 years in a row now AOB is still not resolved. Our Legislators in Tallahassee receive t much PAC money so why solve problems and help the consumer. instead we will see an average of 15% rate hikes for several years because they cannot agree on to much.

 

SB1168, by Senator Steube, passed two of its committee of three committees, but that’s as far as this onerous version of AOB reform ultimately got prior to stalling out in the Senate. SB1168 also amended 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 have applied:

  • 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 would have amended 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 required 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 allowed 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. We worked hard to stop this bill from advancing or being amended onto other legislation.

 

Industry’s preferred AOB bill, SB62 by Senator Hukill, was never scheduled for a committee hearing by 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 was 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 moved to a “loser pays” attorney fee system. The House legislation provided the insured with an opportunity to rescind the assignment within 7 days of entering into the contract with the vendor. Further, the bill increased 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 would have been an improvement over the current system.

 

In the end, the House and Senate versions of AOB never matched up. This issue will be revisited next session.

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