Assignment of Benefits

In December of last year, my colleague Ashley Harris discussed Security First Insurance Co. v. Florida Office of Insurance Regulation,1 where the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal (Fifth DCA) upheld the Office of Insurance Regulation (“OIR”) prohibition of proposed language in an insurance policy that would require “all insureds, all additional insureds and all mortgagees” named on a policy to consent to any post-loss assignment of benefits (“AOBs”) to a third party.
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The Arizona Court of Appeals in a recent opinion said, Yes to both. In Farmers Insurance Exchange v. Udall,1 four homeowners insured by Farmers Insurance Exchange (“Farmers”) sustained separate losses, which required water damage mitigation and restoration services. The homeowners hired a vendor to perform the mitigation and restoration services. In each case, the insureds assigned to the vendor their “rights, benefits, proceeds and causes of action” under their respective insurance policies.
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A handful of bills regarding proposed statutes concerning assignment of property insurance benefits were withdrawn from both houses of the Florida legislature this month. Each of the proposed laws were directed toward assignments entered into by property owners in exchange for the agreement of the assignee — typically a contractor — to complete the associated repairs for which the insurance benefits have not yet been paid, in whole or in part, by the carrier.
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I hope each and every one of you are in the midst of a wonderful holiday season! I am writing this blog from a food court in Toronto, Canada. While I am on a vacation to see family, the weather is making me rethink my life choices. It is currently 19 degrees. This Floridian is wearing more layers than I even knew you could pack on! I will be back in Florida in a few days—just in time to ring in the New Year. Soon thereafter, I will be heading back to Tallahassee for the start of the 2018 Legislative Session. Session officially begins on January 9th and ends on March 9th (unless a special session is called).
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Assignment of benefits is one of the hottest topics in Florida first party property insurance and it’s no secret that insurance carriers are not in favor of AOBs. Some insurance carriers, like Security First Insurance Company, tried to take matters into their own hands and add language into their homeowners, condominium unit owners and “dwelling fire” policies that would require the “insureds, additional insureds and mortgagees” named on a policy to consent to any post-loss assignment of benefits to a third party.
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In a prior blog, I discussed the California Supreme Court’s decision in Fluor Corporation v. Superior Court,1 regarding the post-loss assignment of insurance benefits. In Fluor, the California Supreme Court held that section 520 of California’s Insurance Code prohibits insurance companies from refusing to honor post-loss assignments of benefits, regardless of whether the assigned benefits (a) had accrued at the time of the assignment (i.e., constituted “Noncontingent Benefits”), or (b) had not yet accrued but could accrue if additional events occurred or additional conditions satisfied (i.e., constituted “Contingent Benefits”).
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