The Consumer Protection Coalition, an arm of Tallahassee’s Florida Chamber of Commerce, recently stated that a request for statewide insurance rate increases clearly exposes adverse effects on homeowners stemming from mishandling of benefits assignments.
Citizens Property Insurance Corp. requested a 6.8 percent rate increase for personal policies based on its need to compensate for certain non-weather-related claims. When Citizens participated in a recent rate hearing, it was revealed that numerous homeowners unwittingly signed an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) which allowed a particular vendor to deceive the claimants by artificially inflating repair prices and aggressively seeking restitution when challenged.
“It’s unfortunate that Citizens is here today requesting a rate increase because of a legalized scam that allows the bad behavior of a few to punish everyone,’’ Florida Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Mark Wilson said. “The coalition has been warning that AOB abuse would directly hit consumers’ wallets, and, regrettably, our fears are coming to fruition.’’
The Coalition comprises business leaders, consumer advocates, real estate and insurance experts and others. It was created in January to educate consumers and confront the need for insurance reforms. The group has stated that abusive AOB scams harm consumers and Florida’s economy. Additionally, it negatively impacts insurance providers including Citizens.
Citizens Property Insurance Corp. (Citizens) was created in 2002 by the Florida Legislature through a merger of two firms to provide both windstorm coverage and general property insurance for homeowners who could not obtain insurance elsewhere as a not-for-profit “last resort” insurer.