Tallahassee, Fla. — The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) today called on the Florida Legislature to address assignment of benefits (AOB) abuse and distracted driving as top priorities for the 2018 Florida Legislative Session.
AOB reform should be a central part of any discussion of hurricane preparedness and response this session, as Florida was battered by Hurricane Irma, which brought intense wind and rain that caused significant damage and flooding.
“Widespread storm damage creates opportunities for unscrupulous contractors to prey on storm victims who unwittingly sign over their insurance benefits,” said Logan McFaddin, PCI regional manager.
AOB abuse is plaguing Florida homeowners and motorists. As of July 31, 2017, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation had more than 10,000 lawsuits pending – that is a 33 percent increase compared to the same time the year prior. And, 93 percent of those lawsuits are from the tri-county area of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties in South Florida. According to the Florida Department of Financial Services, in 2006, approximately 400 auto glass AOB lawsuits were filed against auto insurers. In 2016, nearly 20,000 lawsuits were filed.
“PCI is focused on ridding the system of these abuses. Senate Bill 62 by Senator Dorothy Hukill and House Bill 7015 by the House Judiciary Committee are good pieces of legislation that address the root of the problem,” continued McFaddin. “It’s not just property owners who are negatively impacted by AOB abuse; auto owners are being taken advantage of by some auto glass repair companies also getting in on this scheme. Senate Bill 396 by Senator Hukill and House Bill 811 by Representative Rene Plasencia will protect Florida motorists from auto glass repair abuse.”
The Florida Legislature also faces the alarming trend of rapidly rising vehicle crashes and fatalities. While advanced technologies have made cars safer in recent years, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, motor vehicles fatalities in Florida have increased 43 percent since 2014. And, distracted driving is one of the leading causes for the rise in vehicle crashes in Florida and nationwide, with Florida being one of only four states that hasn’t already made texting while driving a primary enforcement law.
“Making texting while driving a primary offense is a top priority this session. Florida is one of many states experiencing double-digit spikes in distracted driving-related crashes. Safety is the first concern. However, the increase in crash frequency and severity also is increasing consumers’ auto insurance costs. PCI joins the DNT TXT N DRV COALITION this session in urging the passage of Senate Bill 90 by Senator Keith Perry and House Bill 33 by Representative Jackie Toledo,” concluded McFaddin.
To reach McFaddin throughout the 2018 Legislative Session for comment, please do not hesitate to reach out to Brooke Kelley (847-553-3671 | Brooke.firstname.lastname@example.org) or Kristen Bridges (850.545.1917 | email@example.com).