By Harold Kim, Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform
Floridians have paid $1.6 billion more for insurance over the past decade than consumers in other states, thanks to the state’s unique law called Assignment of Benefits, or AOB. But after a decade of trying, that may be about the change.
A bill on the move in the state legislature could put the brakes on a law that has been a mainstay of abusive lawsuits. Today, the Florida House of Representatives passed HB 7065, a reform bill that would make it more difficult for trial lawyers to team up with contractors and leverage a homeowner’s lawsuit rights. The reform bill could inject sanity back into Florida’s insurance market and ultimately bring a more competitive market to the Sunshine State.
According to a recent report from the Florida Justice Reform Institute, AOB lawsuits accounted for more than half of litigation against insurers statewide in 2018, marking the eighth straight year. Over the last decade, such lawsuits grew 900 percent, according to the report. According to an article in the Tallahassee Democrat, state officials say that has led property insurance rates to go up by a third.
AOB lawsuits are also a major reason why Floridians pay an average of $2,050 annually for car insurance—50 percent higher than the national average.
HB 7065 would close loopholes and discourage abusive AOB lawsuits. After years of fighting, let’s hope this is the year that lawmakers do what is right for the citizens of Florida and not continue to help Florida’s plaintiffs’ lawyers.