Don’t Fall Prey to “Assignment of Benefits” Abuse

Florida Politics

Originally published by Tampa Bay Times   |   View Story

Letter to the Editor, Charles and Wendy Snellgrove, Clearwater

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Talk to insurer before you sign.

My wife and I fell prey to what we believe was “assignment of benefits” (AOB) abuse. After signing what we thought was a contract to repair our kitchen sink leak, we quickly ended up in a legal battle that took well more than a year to resolve. Since AOB is a binding contract, we lost. AOB abuse is rampant in Florida.

In January 2017, I noticed a small leak under our kitchen sink. I later called a plumber who claimed there was mold and he couldn’t make the repairs until it was cleared. We later found out the plumber received $800 from one of the mold remediation companies he suggested, and there was no mold. At that time we presumed we did indeed have a bigger problem. When the remediation man asked to see our insurance policy he said it was excellent. In fact, we’d have a new kitchen and be able to take a vacation during the repair; it would all be covered. We signed the AOB, not knowing we had just relinquished our rights and unwittingly put our insurer at their mercy.

The contractor said as a service to us, he would work directly with our insurer and file the claim on our behalf. We could just relax. Instead, they tore up half our kitchen and submitted an estimate for $26,000, claiming more work than was necessary. The insurance adjuster later estimated repairs at $11,700. Unfortunately, we had no say in the matter because we had signed the AOB and weren’t able to get out of it.

Having lived through this ordeal, we urge all policyholders to call their insurer first before signing any paperwork. Please don’t make the same mistake we did. Thank goodness, the Florida Senate is taking up the matter next week.

Charles and Wendy Snellgrove, Clearwater