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Floridians Supporting a Legislative Fix to AOB Abuse March to Capitol

Florida Politics

Originally published by Consumer Protection Coalition  |   Read News Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (March 20, 2019) – State Senator Doug Broxson (R-Gulf Breeze) today led more than 125 supporters of Assignment of Benefits (AOB) reform in a march to the state Capitol to call for an end to abusive AOB practices that are harming Florida consumers by increasing the cost of home and auto insurance. Senator Broxson and supporters also today joined the Consumer Protection Coalition (CPC) in announcing a major milestone about consumer support for stopping AOB abuse.

Carrying “Stop AOB Abuse’’ signs, supporters from the Florida Association of Insurance Agents (FAIA), the Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies and the CPC walked from downtown Tallahassee to the front steps of the old Capitol to raise awareness about AOB abuse and its harmful impact on Florida’s consumers.

“Consumers across Florida have experienced first-hand the abusive AOB practices, and as a result, home and auto insurance rates are skyrocketing and costing all Floridians,” said David Hart, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which is spearheading the coalition. “This strong show of solidarity sends a loud message to lawmakers that something must be done to stop AOB abuse.’’

During the event, Hart announced that more than 10,000 Floridians have signed a petition asking Florida lawmakers to pass AOB reform.

Senator Broxson encouraged fellow lawmakers to pass legislation to end AOB abuse. His bill - Senate Bill 122 – would add commonsense provisions to protect consumers and halt the awarding of one-way attorney’s fees, which are fueling AOB abuse.

“Floridians shouldn’t have to pay the price for the bad behavior of a small group of people who have exploited a loophole in the law,’’ said Senator Broxson. “For more than 100 years, we never had a problem with AOBs for home and auto glass claims. Now, we’re seeing an explosion of AOB-related lawsuits that are costing consumers in the form of higher premiums. This isn’t right, and it must be stopped. We need to put the power back into the hands of the consumer.’’

Jeff Grady, president and CEO of FAIA, urged policyholders to avoid becoming victims of AOB abuse by calling their insurance carrier or agent first before signing an AOB to start repairs.

“All too often we hear from policyholders who regret signing an AOB but have no way of getting out of it other than to pay huge penalties, which are abusive and unfair,’’ Grady said. “We urge lawmakers to change the law to keep consumers in control of their policies.’’

Ralph Davis, a Tallahassee-based roofing contractor, also asked lawmakers to support meaningful AOB reform this session.

“I’ve worked in the roofing business in Florida for more than 20 years and have never needed an AOB from a homeowner in order to perform roofing repair work and get paid fairly,” Davis said. “The abuse that we’re seeing on the street threatens the reputation of our industry. It’s ridiculous and it needs to be stopped.”

Coalition members reiterated their support for AOB reform and said another year without legislative action will only worsen the situation for consumers as another hurricane season looms.

“As a member of the coalition, our companies are seeing AOB abuse happen every day to their policyholders on the home, auto, and commercial side,” said Logan McFaddin, regional manager of state government affairs for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association. “We support the agents as they speak to legislators about what they are seeing in the field first-hand. We also echo their concern to stop these bad actors from hurting Floridians. Together, we must protect our policyholders and continue to urge lawmakers to take action before we enter another hurricane season.”

Coalition members noted that Florida is the only state in the country that is experiencing such an explosion of AOB litigation.

"AOB abuse is increasing at an alarming rate, now creeping into the auto glass realm," added Michael Carlson, president of the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida. "We cannot allow another year of inaction to fuel Florida's reputation as the AOB lawsuit capital of the nation. We are thankful to see the progress and engagement from Florida's leaders this year, and we're optimistic that an end to this abuse is in sight."

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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.