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AOB agreements

Must-pass workers’ compensation, AOB reform languishing in Legislature

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With House and Senate leaders caught up with budget negotiations ahead of Friday’s deadline for adjournment, advocates for legislative fixes for assignment of benefits and workers’ compensation reform confronted this possibility: Their must-pass legislation might not pass. There’s a workers’ compensation bill on the Senate calendar, but it differs in significant respects from the version the House adopted, and it was unclear whether those differences could be reconciled in the time left. Meanwhile, the House has adopted assignment of benefits,…

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Florida House approves assignment of benefits reform legislation

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Assignment of benefits reforms ardently sought by the insurance industry and business passed the Florida House Wednesday on a vote of 91-26. A spokeswoman for the Consumer Protection Coalition, a business-oriented lobby aligned with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, immediately praised the action. “The House’s action is a big step toward ending costly AOB abuse and protecting Florida’s homeowners and businesses,” chamber spokeswoman Edie Ousley said in a written statement. “With less than two weeks left in the legislative session,…

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House assignment of benefits reforms move closer to final vote

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The House cleared its version of assignment of benefits reform for a final vote Tuesday, defeating an amendment that would have frozen property insurance rates and required a premiums rollback next summer. PCS/HB 1421 would tighten requirements for contractors to report claims to insurance companies and establish a graduated scale for determining whether contractors holding these agreements qualify to recover litigation expenses from carriers. “What’s important is to make sure that we don’t reward bad lawyers who are trying to abuse…

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Legislation introduced in Senate would tighten protections against AOBs

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Legislation sought by regulators, insurance, and business interests to reform assignment of benefits agreements finally dropped Friday — and the first thing it would do is bar attorney fee awards to contractors who use those contracts to sue insurers. “Nothwithstanding any other law, as to suits based on claims arising under property insurance policies, attorney fees may not be awarded … in favor of any person or entity seeking relief against the insurer pursuant to an assignment agreement,” the bill…

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Drive for assignment of benefits reform picks up steam

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The prospect that a national rating firm might downgrade Florida insurance companies because of rising costs linked to assignment of benefits agreements has lit a fire under advocates of reforming those contracts. “This issue is having a real effect on the pocketbooks of working Floridians and it’s time we take steps to clean up the process,” state Rep. Ben Diamond said in a written statement Wednesday. “Homeowners deserve a real, consumer-driven solution that ensures that legitimate claims are paid while putting a…

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Report points to problems with AOBs, and a way around one proposed fix

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As the Legislature debates restricting attorney fees in insurance litigation involving assignment-of-benefits agreements, a tort-reform group has identified a way to circumvent that fix. Attorneys could convince policyholders to file suit in their own name. A report, “Restoring Balance in Insurance Litigation,” released Monday by the Florida Justice Reform Institute, discusses that possibility in the context of what it called abuse of “AOB” agreements, and of Florida’s one-way attorney fee statute. That law allows policyholders to sue insurers without the risk, should they…

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Senate committee passes assignment-of-benefits reform in water damage insurance claims

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A Senate committee passed a bill seeking to reform assignment-of-benefits for water damage claims on property insurance rates across the state. LobbyTools reports that SB 1248, from Miami Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, takes several steps to reduce abuse of AOB agreements, which allow third parties to claim the insurance benefits resulting from loss, rather than receiving an upfront payment from homeowners. In part, the bill offers stronger prohibitions against water remediators, contractors or subcontractors who act as insurance…

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