Whenever severe weather strikes and there is property damage, insurers are among the first responders — there to help throughout the recovery process.
However, in too many cases, some shady contractors, public adjusters, and lawyers seeking to prey on the misfortune of others and profit from the insurance payouts are not far behind.
One of the abuses growing at an alarming rate involves the assignment of benefits (AOB). Lawyers and local contractors often work together to encourage homeowners to sign away their insurance rights. Homeowners are convinced to sign over control of their insurance policy.
Many of the contractors involved in this abuse inflate claim costs and when an insurance company doesn’t immediately pay the claim, lawyers are quick to file a lawsuit. This leaves the homeowner suffering through unnecessary litigation when they simply want to get the repairs made and move on with their lives.
It’s not just homeowners who are the victims.
Some auto glass repair shops try to convince unsuspecting consumers to sign over their insurance benefits. These shops aren’t affiliated with the insurance companies. They may inflate the glass claim and then turn around and sue the insurance company, often without the policyholder’s knowledge.
According to a report just released by the Insurance Information Institute, the number of lawsuits continues to increase. The report highlights that in 2013, there were 3,821 auto glass lawsuits statewide, however by 2017 that number had grown to 20,367.
Florida is ground zero for this type of abuse, and as we approach the 2019 Legislative Session insurers will continue to advocate for meaningful legislation to protect policyholders and lower costs.
Logan Mitchell McFaddin is Regional Manager of State Government Relations for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCI).