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State Farm drops lawsuit over ‘AOB’ information

State Farm Florida this week dismissed a lawsuit that stemmed from a woman filing a public-records request for information that the company submitted to regulators about the controversial insurance practice known as “assignment of benefits.”

State Farm filed the lawsuit in July against the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, arguing that the information should be shielded from disclosure because it is a trade secret and exempt from the state’s public-records laws.

But in a one-page document filed Monday, State Farm said it was dismissing the case because the public-records request had been withdrawn.

The Office of Insurance Regulation received the records request in June from Elizabeth Tuxbury, a graduate student at Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University who sought information submitted to the state after a “data call” of insurers.

The document filed Monday does not explain why the records request was withdrawn. Assignment of benefits has been a highly controversial issues in recent years, with insurers arguing that litigation and fraud involving the practice are driving up property-insurance premiums.

The issue has primarily focused on residential water-damage claims, though it also has extended to such issues as claims for vehicle windshield damage.

The practice, widely known as AOB, involves policyholders signing over benefits to contractors, who then pursue payment from insurers — often leading to disputes and lawsuits. Contractors and plaintiffs’ attorneys argue it helps ensure that damage claims are paid properly.

The Office of Insurance Regulation requested years’ worth of data from insurers about the handling of property-insurance claims and assignment of benefits.

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