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Florida bill aims to combat windshield insurance abuse

'They’re signing away their benefits'
Posted at 7:37 PM, Nov 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-21 19:37:59-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Windshield replacement schemes are driving up your auto insurance costs. That’s what some Florida lawmakers say, but they have a proposal that could stop it.

Windshield replacement claims cost nothing out of pocket for most insured drivers in Florida. Over the last few years, it's become a lucrative opportunity for those looking to cheat insurance companies.

The issue is repair crews have been trolling parking lots for business or offering free incentives like meals or gift cards. All a driver has to do is sign on the dotted line.

The signature, known as "assignment of benefits," gives those repair crews a chance to pursue insurance payments at inflated prices. It can lead to higher premiums for everyone, over time.

“People don’t realize they’re signing away their benefits," State Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) said. "In 2011, we had 478 cases. In 2018, we had 17,399 cases, lawsuits.”

Sen. Stewart, along with a colleague in the Florida House, is pushing a bill to forbid those incentives and better ensure customers know what they’re signing.

Stewart’s bill and its companion in the other legislative chamber have yet to move in committee. The senator said she may rework the language in the coming weeks after getting some push back from colleagues on one of the proposal's provisions, setting aside time for insurers and repair contractors to negotiate before litigation.

“I need to get this bill passed for the consumers," Stewart said. "The consumers need to be notified about what it is they’re getting into.”

Lawmakers failed to tackle the issue last session while going after assignment of benefits abuse in construction.