Consumer Protection Coalition Warns Consumers to Beware of Assignments of Benefits Abuse Following Hurricane Michael

Wed, Oct 17, 2018 at 6:44PM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Oct. 17, 2018) – The Consumer Protection Coalition this week deployed resources to the Panhandle to warn home and auto owners of the dangers associated with signing an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) contract to start repairs on damage caused by Hurricane Michael.

The CPC launched a multiplatform public service announcement (PSA) campaign in Panama City and Tallahassee warning residents to contact their insurance agent or insurer first before signing any documents. The CPC also is educating home and auto owners at “Insurance Villages” in Panama City and Tallahassee and answering consumer questions about AOB abuse.

“The Consumer Protection Coalition is committed to helping residents get through the difficulty of putting their lives back together,’’ said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which spearheads the coalition. “Consumers need all the information they can get to help navigate making repairs to their homes and vehicles, and we’re working hard to provide resources to help prevent Floridians from becoming victims of AOB scams.”

When signing an AOB, consumers transfer the rights and benefits of their insurance claim to a third party, allowing unscrupulous vendors to inflate the cost and scope of claims and file lawsuits against insurance companies that dispute the amount. What can result are shoddy work, lengthy delays, legal problems for the policyholder and, ultimately, increased insurance costs for all insurance consumers.

The CPC advises consumers to speak to their agent or insurance company before signing any documents for repair work and to avoid vendors who require an AOB in order to initiate repairs. Residents should hire only licensed, reputable companies and be wary of strangers who go door-to-door seeking personal information and demanding a signature to proceed with an inspection. Consumers do not need to sign an AOB to repair storm-related damage covered by insurance.

The Consumer Protection Coalition has been urging state lawmakers to pass legislation that enacts commonsense solutions to stopping AOB abuse, including allowing consumers to rescind an AOB contract within a reasonable period of time without a fee or penalty. Without changes to Florida’s AOB laws, AOB scams are expected to continue to drive insurance premiums higher for years to come.

If you suspect fraudulent or suspicious activity, call the Florida Department of Financial Services at 1-877-693-5236.

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The Consumer Protection Coalition is a broad-based group of professionals advocating for reforms to end Assignment of Benefits (AOB) abuse. Members include the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Justice Reform Institute, Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors, Insurance Information Institute, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, Safelite Group Inc., Associated Builders and Contractors, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Council of Property Claims Professionals, Florida Association of Insurance Agents, Florida Bankers Association, Florida Property and Casualty Association, Florida Realtors, Florida Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association, Florida Retail Federation, Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies, National Insurance Crime Bureau, Professional Insurance Agents of Florida, Rytech and VetCor Services. Learn more about the Coalition at www.FightFraud.Today, follow the Coalition on Twitter @CPC_FL and “like” our page at FB.com/consumerprotectioncoalition.


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