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AOB Auto Glass Victims Share Their Stories

Florida Politics

Originally published by Consumer Protection Coalition  |   Read News Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 11, 2019) – Florida residents who unknowingly signed Assignment of Benefits (AOB) forms in order to get windshield cracks repaired and later learned that the repair shop had sued their insurer without their knowledge, shared their stories in two new videos released by the Consumer Protection Coalition today.

The videos underscore that finding a legislative fix for rampant AOB abuse and litigation in auto glass is critical to protecting consumers and to comprehensively addressing the AOB problem that is impacting both home and auto owners.

In one video, Kathryn Marie Wallace of Orange City describes how she unknowingly signed an AOB with an auto glass repair company in order to get a windshield crack repaired. She had no idea that the shop later sued her insurance company in her name until she was informed of the lawsuit by an outsider.

“Did you realize you are suing this insurance company in your name because you signed a paper?” Wallace said she was asked. “And I said, ‘no, I didn’t know that, I wasn’t aware of it, I didn’t want to sue my insurance company.’”

“I’m against fraud and I think it should be fixed,” Wallace added.

Another Florida couple, who asked to remain anonymous after falling victim to an AOB scam, had a similar story. The husband was asked by an auto glass company representative to sign what he thought was a worker order but was really an AOB. Only later did the couple learn that the repair vendor was suing their insurance company in their names – a lawsuit they didn’t want.

“Business people who are doing business have rights … but not the right to take my rights away,” the wife said. “I called my insurance company right away and told them I didn’t want to sue them.”

But they were trapped in the AOB and didn’t have a say over the lawsuit.

AOB abuse and litigation related to auto glass repairs is a serious problem for Florida consumers. In 2006, there were just 400 AOB lawsuits related to auto glass, according to the Florida Department of Financial Services. Between January 1, 2016 and August 16, 2018, there were over 58,000 auto glass AOB cases filed.

Eighty-five percent of all the AOB auto glass lawsuits were filed by just nine law firms, representing just 14 attorneys.

“The stories being told by the consumers in these videos are similar to experiences playing out with thousands of other Floridians who are being solicited by auto glass repair shops to sign AOBs,” said Edie Ousley, Director of Public Affairs for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which spearheads the Consumer Protection Coalition. “It’s critically important that legislators hear these real-life stories of Floridians as they continue to address AOB abuse this legislative session.”

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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.