This week, after 7 years of failed efforts, the Florida Legislature passed a meaningful Assignment of Benefits (“AOB”) reform bill. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced yesterday that he would sign the legislation designed to cut back on abusive AOBs, a practice that has plagued the hurricane-prone state. In recent years, many contractors have taken advantage of Florida’s unique one-way attorney’s fee shifting statute for insurance coverage litigation. This rule has incentivized contractors to, via the assignment of benefits mechanism, charge property owners outlandish amounts and to then pursue needless, sometimes frivolous, and always expensive litigation against insurance companies.
Florida H.B. 7065, expected to take effect July 1, 2019, makes several key statutory changes designed to curb AOB practices. We discuss a few of those highlights here.
The bill establishes several new sections of the Florida Statutes, including Fla. Stat. § 627.7152. § 627.7152(2)(a) sets requirements for a proper assignment of benefits:
627.7152 Assignment agreements.—
(2)(a) An assignment agreement must:
1) Be in writing and executed by and between the assignor and the assignee.
2) Contain a provision that allows the assignor to rescind the assignment agreement without a penalty or fee by submitting a written notice of rescission signed by the assignor to the assignee within 14 days after the execution of the agreement, at least 30 days after the date work on the property is scheduled to commence if the assignee has not substantially performed, or at least 30 days after the execution of the agreement if the agreement does not contain a commencement date and the assignee has not begun substantial work on the property.
3) Contain a provision requiring the assignee to provide a copy of the executed assignment agreement to the insurer within 3 business days after the date on which the assignment agreement is executed or the date on which work begins, whichever is earlier. . . .
4) Contain a written, itemized, per-unit cost estimate of the services to be performed by the assignee. . . .
Under § 627.7152(2)(a), contractors will no longer be able to blindside their customers and insurers with exorbitant bills with the expectation that an insurance company will eventually pay it. Now, contractors will be required to provide detailed estimates in advance of performing the work in order to effectively obtain an assignment of insurance benefits. Further, the assignee must promptly notify the insurer of the assignment. Insurers will now be able to monitor costs as they are incurred and ensure contractors are not performing unnecessary repairs. Read more ›