As South Florida homeowner’s insurance attorneys we understand the importance of keeping a close watch over actions taken by our State legislature. It is goes without saying that a particular emphasis should be had when dealing with bills pertaining to matters regulating the insurance industry. Although, in Florida it would be seem that many of the bills proposed by the legislature grant wider latitude to the insurance companies and regulate the insured instead. A pointed example of this policy is House Bill 909 (“HB 909”) which states in part;
Any Homeowner’s insurance policy may prohibit the assignment of rights or benefits under the policy, and a third-party beneficiary may not accept and assignment or recover against any policy that prohibits assignment. Any assignment of rights or benefits under a homeowner’s insurance policy that prohibits assignment renders the coverage void.
The language here cannot be any plainer. This will basically allow an insurance company to absolutely prohibit an assignment of rights under the policy. Therefore, if you suffered a tremendous loss to your house and are unable to pay a restoration company to perform repairs and contain the loss, then you are out of luck. Insurance companies will argue that these monies can be recovered once a claim is resolved. However, the purpose of insurance is to provide monies to deal with such emergencies. The above cited proposed bill will only complicate matters for the insured. Ironically, most (if not all) Florida homeowner’s and commercial insurance policies require that an insured contain a loss. This is called the duty to mitigate. The idea is that an insured should keep a loss or damage from getting worse. A typical Florida policy contains language similar to the following;
Duty After Loss.
You must see that the following are done in the event of loss or damage to covered property:
Protect the property from further damage. If repairs to the property are required, you must:
(1) Make reasonable and necessary temporary repairs to protect the property; and (2) Keep an accurate record of repair expenses.
Well, the entire purpose of a remediation/restoration company is to protect a property from further damage. The insurance industry is obviously aware that this takes a substantial amount of monies. After all, they do state that you “must keep an accurate record of repair expenses.” It would seem counterintuitive to require “repairs to protect a property” and yet not allow for an assignment of benefits to a restoration/remediation company. HB 909 would hinder Floridians in their ability to protect their property from further harm. It may also backfire on the insurance companies because many Floridians will be unable to stop damage from getting worse. Ultimately, this will lead to insurance companies paying out more and perhaps premiums going up. As Miami homeowner’s insurance claims attorneys we are of the belief that an insured should be able to mitigate his loss and assign benefits to any contractor who can perform the work.
Fort Lauderdale homeowners insurance claims lawyers are here to assist you 24/7. We can be reached at 305.764.9907. or 1.888.413.8353.