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Insurance agents gather in South Florida to discuss need for Assignment of Benefits (AOB) reform

Consumer Protection Coalition

Originally published by Consumer Protection Coalition   |   Read Release

Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies convention taking place Aug. 1-4

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (Aug. 1, 2018) – Insurance agents from across the state are gathering at the Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies’ annual convention to discuss top issues facing Florida’s insurance industry, including Assignment of Benefits (AOB) abuse.

During a legislative presentation today, Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier and members of the Consumer Protection Coalition will talk about AOB abuse and its harmful impacts on consumers and Florida’s insurance market. Officials also will discuss the importance of passing reforms during the 2019 legislative session to stop the abusive practices.

“Nowhere in the state is this issue more relevant than in South Florida - ground zero for AOB abuse,’’ said Edie Ousley, vice president of public affairs for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which spearheads the coalition. “We appreciate the LAAIA for increasing awareness about this problem among insurance agents who see it first-hand. We are grateful they will use the information to educate their customers about the dangers of signing an AOB.’’

AOB abuse took root in South Florida several years ago and has gradually spread across the state, hurting consumers and increasing insurance costs for everyone. Between 2015 and 2017, the number of lawsuits filed against insurance companies that involved an AOB increased 58 percent – from 82,263 to 129,781 – and represented more than half of all insurance litigation statewide, according to the Florida Justice Reform Institute.

The Consumer Protection Coalition (CPC) has been advocating for commonsense legislation to stop unscrupulous home repair and auto glass vendors from using AOB to take control of people’s insurance policies and file lawsuits against insurers who refuse to pay inflated or unwarranted claims. Proposed 2018 legislation, which was supported by Altmaier, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Citizens Property Insurance Corp. President Barry Gilway, would have allowed policyholders to cancel an AOB contract without penalty and required work estimates and notices that a vendor intended to file suit against an insurer. It also would have revised one-way attorney fee rules to eliminate incentives for filing lawsuits.

The CPC is ramping up its efforts for the 2019 legislative session and looks forward to working with incoming Senate and House leadership to pass real reform that protects hardworking Floridians. Its membership is made up of professional associations, contractors, insurance agents and insurance trade groups, including the LAAIA. Dulce Suarez-Resnick, the LAAIA’s political committee chair, will speak to agents at the convention on the importance of being involved and stopping AOB abuse.

The LAAIA convention runs today through Aug. 4 at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood. The legislative wrap-up will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Aug. 1.

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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, Florida Justice Reform Institute, Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors, Insurance Information Institute, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, 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. Learn more about the Coalition at www.FightFraud.Today, follow the Coalition on Twitter @CPC_FL and “like” our page at FB.com/consumerprotectioncoalition.