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Consumer Protection Coalition Releases New Polling Data About Need for AOB Reform

Consumer Protection Coalition

Originally published by Consumer Protection Coalition   |   View Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2018) – The Consumer Protection Coalition today released new polling data commissioned by the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) showing Florida voters support Assignment of Benefits (AOB) reform by a 2-to-1 margin. This new polling data was delivered to all Florida lawmakers by supporters with the message of “STOP AOB ABUSE.”

The poll, which was conducted by Fabrizio, Lee and Associates, surveyed registered voters in 13 key congressional, state Senate and state House districts that cover diverse regions of Florida. The total sample across the 13 districts is 2,600 registered voters.

“Florida voters are calling on lawmakers to support common-sense reforms to stop the fast-growing scheme where some lawyers, local contractors, and auto glass companies are taking advantage of consumers, manufacturing frivolous lawsuits, and driving up insurance costs,” said Logan McFaddin, PCI regional manager. “This new data shows 60 percent of voters surveyed say that the current property insurance AOB system needs to be reformed. AOB reform is critical for helping reduce insurance costs for both Florida home and auto owners.”

Today’s announcement backs up the statewide polling data that was released by the Consumer Protection Coalition and commissioned by the Florida Chamber of Commerce just last week. This statewide poll showed:

• More than 85 percent of voters (85.1 percent) DISAPPROVE of allowing a repair contractor hired after you’ve suffered property damage to have the right to sue your insurance company without your knowledge or consent, and

• More than 65 percent (65.9 percent) of voters APPROVE of requiring a repair contractor to pay for their own attorney if they sue your insurance company when there is a dispute.

“Florida consumers have borne the brunt of escalating AOB abuse in recent years due to unscrupulous vendors and contractors targeting them for a profit,” said Edie Ousley, vice president of public affairs for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, homeowner insurance costs could rise by 10 percent a year across Florida if action on AOB is not taken.

“Florida consumers must be protected from AOB abuse that is continuing to drive up property and auto insurance costs,” continued Ousley. “We support Senate Bill 62 by Senator Hukill, as we believe it is the best way to address AOB abuse plaguing Florida consumers.”

Once virtually nonexistent, since 2010, total AOB lawsuits have grown from about 25,000 to more than 100,000 – an increase of nearly 300 percent, according to the Florida Justice Reform Institute.

“The explosion in AOB-related lawsuits should be a serious wakeup call that maintaining the status quo is no longer an option,’’ said Cam Fentriss, legislative counsel for the Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association. “For the sake of hardworking families and honest contractors trying to make a living, we must rein in AOB abuse.’’

In 2006, approximately 400 auto glass AOB lawsuits were filed against auto insurers, while in 2016, just 10 years later, nearly 20,000 lawsuits were filed, according to the Florida Department of Financial Services.

“As the latest Wall Street Journal editorial pointed out just this week, Florida can’t continue to prosper if it becomes a mecca for ‘looting by lawsuit.’ Republican leaders in the Senate have an opportunity to prove their commitment to constituents rather than caving to special interests,” said Michael Carlson, president of the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF).

Several AOB reform measures are currently ready to be taken up by the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. The Consumer Protection Coalition is supportive of Senate Bill 62, by Sen. Dorothy Hukill, and House Bill 7015, by the House Judiciary Committee and Rep. Jay Trumbull.

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The Consumer Protection Coalition is a broad-based group of business leaders, consumer advocates, real estate agents, construction contractors, insurance agents and insurance trade groups pushing for reforms to end Assignment of Benefits (AOB) abuse. Learn more about the Coalition at www.FightFraud.Today, follow the Coalition on Twitter @CPC_FL and “like” our page at FB.com/consumerprotectioncoalition.