Florida is nicknamed “The Sunshine State,” but exactly how bright that sun shines may depend on who you ask. For insurers, Florida is not exactly a hospitable environment. Hurricanes aside, there is the added threat of litigation not only from homeowners, but also from roofing contractors who have secured an “assignment of benefits” (AOB) from a policyholder. An AOB permits a third-party, like a roofer, to “stand in the insured’s shoes” and go after the insurer for direct payment. Unfortunately, homeowners don’t always realize what, precisely, signing an AOB does: it takes away their right to communicate with the insurer about the claim and allows the third-party assignee to negotiate and accept claim payments from or even file suit against the insurer without requiring the insured’s knowledge or consent. For example, an insured might be perfectly happy to settle a claim with their insurer, but roofing companies are rarely, if ever, so willing. If the insured has signed an AOB, the roofing company has the right to pursue litigation even if the insured prefers settlement.
Earlier this year, Austin Flickstein and Hope Zelinger successfully defended American Traditions Insurance Company (ATIC) against a roofing company with an AOB. We spoke with them about the current state of roofing and insurance in Florida. Outlined and summarized below are some key takeaways from that conversation.
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