Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier is encouraging Floridians who will be recovering from potential flood or wind damages to their homes and businesses from Tropical Storm Gordon to use caution when signing an Assignment of Benefits (AOB). Homeowners may be presented with a document to sign before repair work begins, which could contain what is known as an AOB, that transfers the insurance claims rights or benefits of your insurance policy to a third party.
Homeowners should contact their insurance agent, insurance company or CFO Patronis’ Insurance Consumer Helpline (1-877-693-5236) as soon as possible when making emergency repairs. After assessing the damage, restoration professionals may encourage homeowners to sign an AOB. By doing so, homeowners are giving the vendor the right to exclusively communicate with their insurance company, negotiate and endorse insurance claim payments and potentially file a lawsuit against the insurance company, with or without the homeowner’s knowledge. AOBs have been a cost driver leading to rising homeowners insurance rates across the state due to unnecessary litigation associated with certain AOB claims.
Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier stated, “As Floridians evaluate damages to their homes and property following Tropical Storm Gordon, it is vital they understand exactly what they are signing. AOB abuse has contributed to rising insurance rates and in some cases, unscrupulous contractors have left homeowners with unfinished repairs, liens against their homes and uncovered repair expenses. Homeowners are encouraged to review any documents they are asked to sign and use caution when signing an AOB. Consumers can always file a claim directly with their insurance company to maintain control of the rights and benefits provided by their insurance policy when resolving a claim.”
The following are a few tips to assist homeowners:
- Read your insurance policy and know what your responsibilities are following a loss.
- Contact your insurance company prior to signing any document that may contain an AOB.
- If the homeowner elects to sign the AOB, read everything carefully and do not feel pressured to sign it. Signing an AOB is not your only option.
- Beware of language that allows all proceeds of the claim to be made to anyone other than the homeowner or the homeowner’s mortgage company.
- Do not sign the document if there are any blank spaces.
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