Originally published by Consumer Protection Coalition |
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
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.
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.