Have you ever had a water leak? Ever had hurricane or windstorm damage?
If so, you may have been approached by a public adjuster, water mitigation company or restoration contractor to assist with your insurance claim for the damages and repair your house. Many times when you contact your Insurance company after water damage, you will be instructed to contact a water mitigation company to dry out the property.
What many people do not realize is that when you sign a contract with one of these companies, you may be signing an “Assignment of Benefits”. Most companies are reputable and will go over the contract with you prior to you signing.
When you sign an Assignment of benefits, you are basically turning over your rights to any future insurance proceeds to the contractor or company with whom you are signing a contract. In some instances, this is a full assignment of benefits meaning that you will not have control over any of the funds and the insurance proceeds will be paid directly to the company with the assignment. In other instances, there is only a partial assignment of your claim proceeds.
In an emergency situation, most people do not take the time to thoroughly read and understand the document they are signing, they simply want their home dried out or repaired as soon as possible. READ THE ENTIRE CONTRACT PRIOR TO SIGNING! ASK QUESTIONS IF YOU ARE UNSURE WHAT THE DOCUMENT ACTUALLY SAYS! PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY AS YOU WILL LIKELY BE PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE TO PAY THE COMPANY’S BILL IF THE INSURER ULTIMATELY DENIES YOUR CLAIM.
Assignments of Benefits (AOB) have become a hot topic in Insurance in Florida and have caught the attention of the Legislature which began to address these assignments last legislative session. Some unscrupulous companies are taking advantage of homeowners and Insurers through the use of the AOB to charge exorbitant prices for services. I am confident that this matter will again be tabled in the 2017 Legislative session.
The AOB can be a useful way for a company to ensure that they will be paid for their efforts to do work at your home prior to receiving insurance money in an emergency situation. Just be aware that you may be signing away control of your insurance benefits in some instances. Take the extra 15 minutes and read the entire contract before signing. If you are not comfortable with that contract, call another company rather than signing a contract under duress.
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Be clear that no legal advice is being offered by this informational article and should not be construed as such.