TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today’s passage of Assignment of Benefits reform is a victory for Florida’s homeowners and should help stop the abusive and fraudulent practices that have been harming consumers and driving out-of-control litigation, the Consumer Protection Coalition said.
The CPC applauds Sen. Doug Broxson, Rep. Bob Rommel, President Bill Galvano, Speaker Jose Oliva and the Senate and House for finally bringing relief to Floridians after a seven-year fight. The CPC appreciates Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recognition that AOB abuse has evolved into a “racket’’ that must be fixed and urges him to the sign the bill into law.
“This is a great day for Florida’s consumers,’’ said Edie Ousley, vice president of public affairs for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which spearheads the coalition. “Closing the AOB loophole will finally curb the rampant litigation over homeowner claims and stop the bad actors from abusing the system for their own gain. We look forward to seeing this bill signed into law.’’
Sen. Broxson, in debating the bill, recognized Charles Snellgrove of Clearwater and his personal story of AOB abuse as an example of why AOB must be reformed. Snellgrove, who has been a vocal advocate of reform this legislative session, attended Wednesday’s vote and praised lawmakers for protecting consumers against predatory repair vendors.
“This legislation gives power back to the people to make choices about their insurance claims,’’ Snellgrove said. “My wife and I lived to regret signing an AOB and, hopefully, this bill ensures that doesn’t happen to anyone else. I am grateful to the Legislature for listening to homeowners and taking action to end AOB abuse.’’
The bill, as written, is expected to keep consumers in control of their insurance policies and, over time, reduce insurers’ costs for inflated claims and litigation that must be passed along to consumers. Changes to one-way attorney fees should eliminate incentives for filing costly lawsuits. Other provisions add commonsense protections for consumers, including allowing policyholders the right to rescind an AOB without penalties and requiring written estimates for work.
While the CPC celebrates today’s victory, it is disappointed auto glass provisions were not included in the bill and encourages lawmakers to address auto glass in future AOB reforms. Thousands of Floridians have unknowingly become the subject of litigation over their windshield replacement claims without their knowledge or consent. This practice must stop.
The CPC thanks Florida Commissioner David Altmaier, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Citizens Property Insurance Corp. President and CEO Barry Gilway for making AOB reform a priority this legislative session and supporting the bill’s passage.
The CPC also thanks the home and auto owners who have shared their stories of AOB abuse and advocated for reform. In anticipation of today’s vote, Floridians sent more than 51,000 letters to state senators urging their passage of the bill.
Here’s what other members of the Consumer Protection Coalition are saying about today’s historic vote.
“Our companies are seeing AOB abuse happen every day to their policyholders on both the home and auto side. Addressing AOB abuse on the homeowners side is vital to putting a stop to the number of AOB lawsuits filed in Florida, which are only growing steeper with each passing year and resulting in higher insurance costs. This law will protect Florida home and business owners alike from bad actors who are taking advantage of them and our legal system just to put more money in their own pockets.”
Logan McFaddin, Regional Manager of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association
"The clock is ticking on all the fraudsters and other members of the AOB cottage industry that have been plaguing Florida’s insurance market for the last several years. With the passage of HB 7065, their time will soon be up. We look forward to seeing an important set of strong consumer protections passed to Governor DeSantis, and we thank the Legislature for its hard work in crafting this legislation."
Michael Carlson, president of the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF)
“This legislation is a long time coming and serves as a wake-up call to the bad actors that these abusive tactics will no longer be tolerated. I am thrilled and relieved the Legislature recognized the need to end these scams and weed out those who are hurting our customers and tarnishing our industry’s reputation.’’
“This legislation will help stabilize the runaway AOB litigation and provide policyholders with valuable tools to protect themselves against predatory vendors. It will cause vendors to think twice before they bring a fraudulent lawsuit against an insurance company.”
William Stander, executive director of the Florida Property & Casualty Association
“It’s been seven years of hard work, but today’s passage of assignment of benefits reform legislation in Florida is a major victory for consumers. We are thrilled to see Florida legislators put policyholders first, something that as mutual insurers, NAMIC members have done for generations. This legislation is an important step toward curbing the explosion of lawsuits stemming from unscrupulous contractors and attorneys preying on consumers that has driven up the cost of residential insurance for everyone. While it’s upsetting that the final bill did not include auto glass AOB reform, we will not give up the fight for those important consumers protections in the next legislative session.”
Liz Reynolds, Regional Vice President of the Southeast for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC)
The Consumer Protection Coalition is a broad-based group of professionals advocating for reforms to end Assignment of Benefits (AOB) abuse. Members include the Florida Chamber of Commerce, American Property Casualty Insurance Association, Florida Justice Reform Institute, Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association, Insurance Information Institute, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, Safelite Group Inc., Associated Builders and Contractors, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Council of Property Claims Professionals, Florida Association of Insurance Agents, Florida Bankers Association, Florida Property and Casualty Association, Florida Realtors, Florida Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association, Florida Retail Federation, Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies, National Insurance Crime Bureau, Professional Insurance Agents of Florida, Rytech and VetCor Services.