Post Hurricane Ian Recovery: Don’t Get Scammed by Assignment of Benefits Abuse
Hurricane Ian brought not only record rainfall and flooding, but also a deluge of unscrupulous contractors, roofers, and mitigation companies. These repair companies canvas impacted neighborhoods offering to inspect your home and fix any damage caused by the storm. They promise to work directly with your insurance company, and assure you that you won’t have to worry about a thing. All you have to do is sign on the dotted line.
So what exactly is the problem? The contract you’re being asked to sign is likely an Assignment of Benefits (“AOB”). An AOB is an agreement that transfers the rights and benefits of your insurance claim to a third party, such as a repair company. What started as a tool to streamline the insurance claims process has become a tool regularly misused by dishonest repair companies. Many homeowners are unaware of the dangers associated with executing an AOB. By signing an AOB:
You lose the rights to your insurance claim, including the right to make decisions regarding the claim or to mediate the claim.
You risk the repair company inflating the cost and scope of your claim.
You risk substandard or incomplete work as well as lengthy delays.
The repair company obtains the ability to file a lawsuit against your insurance company regarding your claim.
You may be subjected to property liens or other financial fees for failure to comply with the terms and conditions in the AOB.
AOB scams are a growing epidemic costing homeowners billions in dollars in inflated claim costs and unnecessary litigation. Thankfully, there are measures you can take to avoid falling prey to AOB fraud and abuse.
Be wary of someone who knocks on your door to tell you about damage to your home that you had no idea about or claims that the damage is far more substantial than it is.
Consider it a red flag if someone says you may be eligible for a free roof or free kitchen or if they promise to cover your deductible.
If your home suffers damage, contact your insurance company as soon as possible.
Document all your damaged property by taking photos and videos.
After any immediate emergency has been mitigated, don’t allow a repair company to begin significant repairs until your insurance company has inspected the damage.
If you’re asked to sign an AOB by a repair company, read it carefully and make sure you understand what rights and benefits under your insurance policy you may be signing away. Don’t give in to pressure tactics.
Be aware that AOBs may include a cancellation fee that you may be forced to pay, even if the repair company does not work.
Only retain licensed repair companies.
If you have questions, feel free to reach out to us.