|Date:||July 01, 2016|
|Source:||Palm Beach Post|
I recently attended a forum hosted by Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate Sha’Ron James in Boca Raton to discuss the explosion in insurance claims related to water damage. During the event, multiple speakers talked about problems associated with Assignment of Benefits (AOB), and how it is harming the insurance market and increasing rates for policyholders.
I learned about Assignment of Benefits the hard way last year when my laundry room and other areas of my house flooded. Standing in ankle-deep water, I was desperate to get rid of it and didn’t know what to do.
My husband called the first water remediation company he saw in the phone book, the one with the biggest ad. A crew came out and told me they would take care of everything through our insurance company, but only if I signed an AOB.
I had no idea what an AOB was, but I was anxious to get the work started and signed it. I was too stressed to read the small print, and they didn’t explain it. Had I known I was signing over the rights to my insurance benefits, I would never have signed the AOB.
The employees removed the water and installed 29 fans and drying machines throughout my house. I told them all the fans seemed excessive, but they insisted and kept the fans running for five days.
After the work was completed, my insurance company received a bill for nearly $12,000. The bill was based on the amount of equipment used and the length of time they were running, leading me to believe that they used so many fans just to inflate the cost.
Upon review, my insurance company said the bill far exceeded the customary amount, about $3,000. My insurer tried to discuss the discrepancy with the company, but the company did not respond. Instead, they filed a lawsuit against my insurer to recoup the balance of the bill.
I had no idea about the lawsuit until I found out from my insurer. My husband and I, who are retired senior citizens, are furious the water extraction company would take such drastic measures without trying to resolve it through other means. Because I signed the AOB, we are in the dark about anything concerning the lawsuit, which is still pending.
I feel that the contractor took advantage of us by getting us to sign the AOB so they could control our policy and file a lawsuit to squeeze more money from our insurance company. I worry about the contractor coming after me for the money and my premium going up. I regret signing the AOB and encourage anyone facing a similar experience to call their insurance company first.
For the sake of average policyholders like me, I urge state lawmakers to do something to stop this bad behavior and end AOB abuse before it gets worse. Homeowners should not have to pay for the misdeeds of a dishonest few.
ELEANOR POSNER, DELRAY BEACH