Florida Rep. Philip Griffitts introduced legislation to the state’s House of Representatives that would bar vehicle insurance policyholders from entering into assignment-of-benefit (AOB) contracts with repair shops.
HB 541, filed on January 27, would prohibit policyholders from entering into such agreements starting with issuances on or after July 1, 2023.
“Any attempt by a policy owner to enter into such assignment agreement is void and unenforceable,” the legislation reads.
The legislation pertains to “inspecting, protecting, repairing, restoring, or replacing the motor vehicle or mitigating against further damage to the motor vehicle.”
This is not the first time AOB legislation has been proposed in Florida.
Florida’s Senate Banking and Insurance committee saw a split four-to-four vote in 2019 on a similar piece of proposed legislation proponents claimed would help decrease alleged auto repair fraud. That bill sought to prohibit auto glass repair and replacement shops from offering rebates or other incentives, such as gift cards, in exchange for motorists making insurance claims for windshield repairs or replacements.
Then, in 2020, a renewed proposal made its way to the legislature. It also prohibited motor vehicle repair shops from offering anything of value to customers in exchange for making an insurance claim for motor vehicle glass replacements or repairs. Additionally, Florida passed legislation reforming AOB practices with respect to contractors in 2019.
According to the owner of one independently-owned auto glass repair and replacement shop in Florida, who wishes to remain anonymous, such AOB legislation comes with positives and negatives. While it could remove some of Florida’s bad actors, or the “windshield harvesters,” the owner believes insurance companies need to keep in mind what’s “fair and reasonable.”
“Getting rid of it may be good, but I don’t know if we would be able to survive,” the owner says with respect to the current amount paid by insurance companies.