The hustle is real and it’s happening every day in Florida. Under an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) contract, unsuspecting homeowners are being duped into signing away all their insurance policy rights to a third-party repair or renovation contractor. When the contractor submits their often inflated claim to the insurance company and the insurer refuses to pay it – the contractor sues, aided by lawyers able to game Florida’s one-way attorney fees and bad faith laws to collect all their attorney fees.
It’s a vicious and costly game, where insurance companies settle frivolous lawsuits only because it’s cheaper than going to trial. AOB abuse has created an additional $1 billion of inflated insurance claims over recent years – costs eventually passed along to all homeowners through higher rates. And the problem is getting worse.
Lisa Miller & Associates is telling the story of AOB abuse through the policyholders, making sure legislators listen, calling out the bad actors, educating consumers and the news media, and helping insurance companies develop managed repair programs to help their policyholders find the most competent contractors who guarantee their work and don’t file bogus claims. And as always, we’re keeping our clients updated by the minute on any developments. Please check out our efforts and resources below.
At Lisa Miller & Associates, we have a passion for policy and client success. Put Our Passion to Work for You – Give Us a Call Today!
Click here to view this on-demand webinar, Industry Beware: Inside the AOB Epidemic hosted by Demotech and CaseGlide, featuring Lisa Miller (June 2018)
Learn how new tools and analytics are revealing hidden costs and changing the approach to solving Florida’s AOB abuse in 2018 and beyond.
Listen to a desperate conversation between husband and wife homeowners and their insurance company:
Lisa Miller hosts The Florida Insurance Roundup podcast, regularly featuring the latest developments in insurance defense and helping consumers by raising awareness of AOB abuse so they don’t fall prey to the litigation explosion.
We recognize the need to better educate consumers, policyholders, and the Florida legislature, which in 2018, failed to pass any reform bills for the sixth year in a row. Our legislators have a hard time believing this is a problem despite existing data provided by Florida insurance regulators, which shows frequency, severity, and number of AOB claims all dramatically up.
Watch ABC Action News Tampa story on AOB Abuse of Homeowner (March 2018)
- In 2011, there were 1,406 AOB related lawsuits, and in 2016, that number had reached 28,183, with no corresponding increase in consumer complaints.
- From 2010 to 2016, the number of residential water loss claims jumped 46% (in frequency per 1,000 policies) with no corresponding increase in rain events.
- Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, the state’s fourth largest homeowners insurer, had 13,500 pending lawsuits in May 2018 and was receiving an average of 1,250 new ones monthly, with 27% of those being AOB-related.
- Citizens has identified 20 law firms that file the bulk of AOB suits in Florida.
Media Coverage of LMA Efforts on AOB
- “It’s hard for our elected officials to believe that our insurance companies are trying to do the right thing,” added panelist Lisa Miller, a former deputy insurance commissioner and CEO of Lisa Miller & Associates, a governmental affairs firm. “But those companies are doing right every day by their policyholders. Legislators have a hard time believing this is a problem.” Changing the Approach to Solving Florida’s Assignment of Benefits Abuse, MarketsInsider, June 22, 2018.
- “Policyholders insured with the handful of insurance companies that require mortgage company approval for a valid AOB are protected from unscrupulous vendors,” Miller said in an email to Insurance Journal. “It’s unfortunate that all policyholders cannot access this benefit because of regulatory, judicial and legislative limitations.” Florida Appeals Court, Regulator Reject Policy Language Aimed at Curbing AOB Abuse, Insurance Journal, January 10, 2018
- “If you hear the words ‘I’ll take care of everything and it won’t cost you anything, just sign here,’ you must run the other way,” said Lisa Miller, Florida’s former deputy insurance commissioner and now a consultant in Tallahassee. “It’s a racket. They’ve created a factory for lawsuits. You are signing away all your rights and benefits. You lose control of your policy. If you want pink countertops, that’s not up to you. That’s up to the vendor.” Miller advises policyholders not to fall for the pitch and to call their insurance agent or the state’s helpline. The state urges policyholders to file claims directly with their insurance company. “People you know come to your back door, and people you don’t know come to your front door, especially after a hurricane,” she said. “Don’t answer that knock.” Don’t Get Duped by Insurance Scams or You’ll Fall Victims to Irma Again, Miami Herald, October 10, 2017
- “When a consumer signs an AOB, that document assigns all of a policyholder’s benefits to a stranger,” said Lisa Miller, a lobbyist for five insurance companies and a former state regulator. “The consumer loses control and their ability to work with their insurance company directly.” Hurricane Irma victims could face fight between insurers, contractors, Orlando Sentinel, September 20, 2017
- Lisa Miller, former Florida deputy insurance commissioner, also advised homeowners to beware of anyone who knocks on doors and offers a free roof, plumbing or other services. “If it’s too good to be true, it likely is,” she warned. Hurricane Irma travels up the East Coast, sparing few, Property Casualty 360, September 14, 2017
- “The hotline is “ideal for consumers who want help reaching their insurance company, understanding their coverage, and want general help in knowing what to do next and how filing a claim works, etc.,” Former Florida Deputy Insurance Commissioner Lisa Miller told News 6. “There are no dumb insurance questions, so encourage folks to call that line with any issue they need about their insurance policy, coverage or company.” Insurance adjusters hit central Florida neighborhoods, WKMG-TV Orlando, September 12, 2017
- “The Office of Insurance Regulation and Citizens Insurance have acted where the legislature has so far failed to act, to bring measures of responsibility and accountability to an out of control Assignment of Benefits system that is causing double-digit property insurance rate increases on Floridians,” said Lisa Miller, former deputy insurance commissioner and host of The Florida Insurance Roundup podcast. She predicts that other insurance companies will now seek the same newly approved coverage cap from OIR. Florida OIR approves Citizens request to limit coverage on non-weather claims, Property Casualty 360, August 21, 2017
- “Although the problem began in South Florida, it’s moving to Tampa and Orlando, said Lisa Miller, a Tallahassee lobbyist for several private carriers. “All policyholders are paying for the actions of a few who are cheating the system and costing all of us higher premiums,” Miller said. “We have to get a handle on this assignments of benefits issue.” Higher insurance costs but other expenses flat for 2017, Orlando Sentinel, December 30, 2016
Other Lisa Miller & Associates (LMA) Produced Products & Resources
- LMA Backgrounder: Assignment of Benefits (AOB) 2018 contains a summary of the 2018 Florida AOB legislation, along with pertinent testimony before the two insurance committees.
- Assignment of Benefits Contract Example (Notice it reads that ALL of the policy rights are signed away by this document – why does a vendor need ALL of a policy’s rights?)
- Florida’s One-Way Attorney’s Fee Statute, 627.428 f.s.
- Florida Insurance Code Civil Remedy Statute – 624.155 f.s. (regarding Bad Faith)
- Assignment of Benefits Resources & Consumer Alerts, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation
- Florida Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation
- Orlando Contractor Busted for AOB Fraud in Florida & Texas, LMA Newsletter, June 18, 2018
- Court Rules Multiple Assignment of Benefits Okay, LMA Newsletter, May 21, 2018
- Insurance Companies Responding to Legislative Inaction on AOB Reform, LMA Newsletter, April 9, 2018
- Citizens Property Insurance Reopening a Third of Irma Claims, While Managed Repair Program Fine-Tuned, LMA Newsletter, April 9, 2018
- More Than Half of Florida Insurance Litigation in 2017 Involved AOBs, LMA Newsletter, February 26, 2018
- Same Policy Language and Insurer, Two Different Court Rulings, LMA Newsletter, February 19, 2018
- Report Shows Florida AOB Abuse Worsening as Lawmakers Consider Reforms, Insurance Journal, January 17, 2018
- OIR Poised to Eliminate AOB Language Protections from Policies, LMA Newsletter, January 15, 2018
- New Data on AOB Abuse Outlines Real Problem in Florida, LMA Newsletter, January 8, 2018
- 2017 Review of Assignment of Benefits (AOB) Data Call Report, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, January 2018
- AOB Fraud: An Unchecked, Growing Problem in Florida, WTSP-TV, Channel 10, Tampa, August 1, 2017
- Category 5 Flores, Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2017