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The 'AOB Trap' Vexing the Florida Legislature on the Eve of its 2018 Session
By: Lisa Miller & Associates
This week on The Florida Insurance Roundup (http://lisamillerassociates.com/
"Florida's AOB problem is statewide and something the legislature is coming back into session next week, in a fifth attempt in as many years, to fix. By any measure, AOB abuse in Florida is an explosive epidemic that affects how we get our homes repaired and ultimately what we'll pay in the future for our property insurance," said Miller.
The following are Show Notes for this 16:04 running time podcast (http://lisamillerassociates.com/
Describing it as a "nightmare" that's lasted months, Sandra Carlstrom said she hasn't been able to get her home repaired because she needs to sever the Assignment of Benefits (AOB) contract with her previous contractor before she can engage someone else to repair the damage to her roof, facia board, and inside rooms caused by Hurricane Irma's heavy winds and rain. If not for her daughter Kirsten, a skilled Realtor® who added contingency clauses to the AOB requiring their insurance company to approve all repairs, Sandra said she would have lost all of her rights and potentially face a financial disaster from having to pay for her own repairs.
Kirsten said the first sign of trouble was when the contractor refused to answer questions and told them not to talk to their own insurance company. Upon further research, she discovered the contractor was running his business from a UPS Store post office box on the other side of the state. Although the contractor seemed very knowledgeable and claimed to know (and play golf with) the head of their insurance company, a month went by with no repairs. Suspicious, Sandra and Kirsten contacted their insurer and discovered the contractor was attempting to bill $191,000 for what should have been a $30,000 roof.
When they tried to cancel the AOB, Kirsten said the contractor refused to do so and threatened with his lawyer to put a lien on the house. If they wanted out of the AOB, there were told they'd need to pay him $15,000 for the temporary roof tarp he'd installed and his research time. "He threatened us and coerced us and involved his attorney, who threated to sue us," said Kirsten.
Investigators with the Florida Attorney General's office are now on the case as Sandra Carlstrom continues her efforts to get out of the AOB and "The AOB Trap" that's held her captive for three-and-a-
Host Lisa Miller, referring to the Carlstrom case as "almost extortion", notes that by any measure, AOB abuse in Florida is an explosive epidemic:
· Frequency of Claims involving an AOB (up 46% from 2010-2016);
· Severity of Claims involving an AOB (up 28% from 2010-2016); and
· Number of AOB lawsuits (from 405 lawsuits in 2006 to 28,200 in 2016) are all on the rise.
Increased costs equal increased rates by insurance companies, with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation warning that annual 10% rate increases on homeowners insurance policies in Florida could become the norm.
The Florida legislature, which begins its 2018 session on January 9, is attempting for the fifth year in a row to pass meaningful AOB reform for Florida consumers. The Florida House of Representatives has HB 7015 (http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
Lisa's Tips on Avoiding the AOB Trap:
1) Don't answer your door after a calamity. There's an old saying that "People you know come to your back door, people you don't know come to your front door." Those you don't know, don't always have your best interest.
2) Don't sign anything until you speak with your insurance company. And if you see the words "Assignment of Benefits" or "AOB" on your document, don't sign it until you speak with your trusted insurance agent or insurance company directly.
Another Day, Another DCA Decision (http://lisamillerassociates.com/
Assignment of Benefits Resources & Consumer Alerts (https://floir.com/
Florida Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights (http://floir.com/
The Florida Insurance Roundup from Lisa Miller & Associates, brings you the latest developments in Property & Casualty, Healthcare, Workers' Compensation, and Surplus Lines insurance from around the Sunshine State.
Subscribe to The Florida Insurance Roundup podcast here. (http://lisamillerassociates.podomatic.com/
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