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Citizens Insurance lost $27.1 million during 2016; first loss in a decade

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Citizens Property Insurance Corp. lost money for the first time in a decade because of water loss claims, assignment of benefits abuse, and rising litigation costs, the company said Wednesday. Staff at Florida’s insurer of last resort told its board of governors that they expect to post a $27.1 million loss for 2016. “Every year, we rely on standardized, accepted actuarial principles to set our rates,” chairman Chris Gardner said in a press release. “Last year, the same principles that provided rate decreases to…

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Consumer Protection Coalition launches ad on Assignment of Benefits claims

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The Consumer Protection Coalition launched a radio and television ad campaign Monday to warn homeowners of how Assignment of Benefits abuse could cause insurance rates to skyrocket in Florida. Assignment of Benefits, or AOB, is a system where homeowners can sign over their insurance policy to a contractor or lawyer in exchange for a quick repair. Often, AOB claims are costlier and many end up in court in order to get insurers to pay up. The coalition includes several insurance…

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House Speaker: Rick Scott’s focus on Enterprise Florida is misdirected

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Gov. Rick Scott should spend less time talking about Enterprise Florida, and more seeking reform of the workers compensation system and assignment of benefits abuse, if he really cares about protecting jobs, House Speaker Richard Corcoran said Thursday. “We’re talking about a tremendous amount of bandwidth going to Enterprise Florida, going to Visit Florida,” Corcoran told reporters during a wide-ranging news conference. If the House prevails in its bid to kill Enterprise Florida and other economic incentive programs, and clips Visit Florida’s wings, the…

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Wall Street Journal op-ed highlights assignment of benefits abuse

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An op-ed in The Wall Street Journal Tuesday called out the assignment of benefits (AOB) system in Florida, saying the abuse of AOB by trial lawyers will get Florida taxpayers “whacked with Category 5 bills.” “Florida homeowners already face risks from hurricanes, hail storms and other natural phenomena,” the article states. “Do they need to face the unnatural disaster known as plaintiff’s attorneys too?” AOB is a system where homeowners can sign over the rights to their insurance policy after a…

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William Large: Florida must end assignment of benefits abuse, self-serving windfalls

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A state law that was originally intended to give individual policyholders special rights in disputes with their insurance companies is instead being used by some repair vendors and their lawyers to generate a self-serving windfall. The problem is serious and growing, and it’s driving insurance costs higher and higher. The so-called “one-way attorney fee” allows a policyholder to collect their legal fees from their insurer if they win a claims dispute. But, if the policyholder loses in court, they don’t…

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Insurance companies have plenty to worry about as Legislative Session opens

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The insurance industry already has a good idea how one of it’s top priorities for the 2017 Legislative Session seems likely to go. It found out when the House and Senate unveiled their plans for fixing the workers’ compensation system Friday. But there’s more than that to worry about as session opens Tuesday. The industry is also looking for a fix for assignment of benefits abuse, and waiting to see whether the Legislature will make the state’s personal injury protection mandate for…

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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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