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Florida Legislature Tackles 'Most-Controversial Insurance Issue' of 2019

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - The Florida House is expected Thursday to approve a bill that would revamp the controversial insurance practice known as "assignment of benefits" after deciding to scrap part of the proposal dealing with vehicle windshields.

The House took up the bill (HB 7065) on Wednesday and positioned it for a vote.

Assignment of benefits has been the most-controversial insurance issue of the 2019 legislative session.

Under assignment of benefits, property owners sign over claims to contractors who pursue payments from insurers.

The insurance industry and business groups are lobbying heavily for changes in so-called AOB, which they argue is riddled with fraud and litigation.

Plaintiffs' attorneys and other groups, however, contend assignment of benefits helps ensure that insurers properly pay claims.

The controversy initially focused on water-damage claims to homes in South Florida, but it expanded to include claims for replacing windshields.

The House bill, sponsored by Civil Justice Chairman Bob Rommel, R-Naples, would make a series of changes to restrict assignment of benefits.

Many auto-glass firms, as well as home-repair firms, have fought the bill in committees.

Rommel proposed the change Wednesday to remove parts of the bill dealing with windshield replacement, saying he wasn't sure a "legislative fix" was necessary to address that issue.

If the revised bill is approved Thursday, the House would still need to reach agreement with the Senate on AOB changes.

A Senate bill has included significant differences from the House version.

(©2019 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida's contributed to this report.)

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