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CFO Patronis: Understand What You Are Signing During Hurricane Michael Recovery

10/19/2018

For Immediate Release: Friday, October 19, 2018
Contact: Devin Galetta, 850.413.2842, devin.galetta@myfloridacfo.com  

CFO Patronis: Understand What You Are Signing During Hurricane Michael Recovery
 
PANAMA CITY, Fla. – Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis and Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier warn Floridians recovering from Hurricane Michael to use caution when asked to sign any paperwork. You could be signing an Assignment of Benefits (AOB). An AOB transfers the insurance claims rights or benefits of your insurance policy to a third party and it may be presented to a homeowner before repair work begins.
 
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “Many of our neighbors in the Panhandle lost everything a week ago to Hurricane Michael and the last thing they need is complications during the rebuilding process. When approached by contractors, homeowners must be extremely careful if asked to sign any financial paperwork, including an AOB. In some cases, AOB’s can delay the claims process and your recovery. Be sure to read everything and understand what you are signing before you give away your rights as a homeowner.”
 
Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said, “Hurricane Michael left widespread devastation in its wake and as a result, our residents are in a vulnerable state of mind. Homeowners must remain vigilant, review any documents they are asked to sign and use caution when signing an AOB. Consumers can always file a claim directly with their insurance company to maintain control of the rights and benefits provided by their insurance policy throughout their recovery.”
 
After assessing damage to your home, restoration professionals may encourage homeowners to sign an AOB. By doing so, you are giving a vendor the right to exclusively communicate with your insurance company, negotiate and endorse insurance claim payments and potentially file a lawsuit against the insurance company, with or without your knowledge.
 
The following tips will assist homeowners during their recovery:

• Read your insurance policy and understand what your responsibilities are following a loss.
• Contact your insurance company prior to signing any document that may contain an AOB.
• If the homeowner elects to sign the AOB, read everything carefully and do not feel pressured to sign it. Remember, signing an AOB is not your only option.
• Beware of language that allows all proceeds of the claim to be made to anyone other than the homeowner or the homeowner’s mortgage company.
• Do not sign the document if there are any blank spaces.

Homeowners should contact their insurance agent, insurance company or CFO Patronis’ Insurance Consumer Helpline (1-877-693-5236) for assistance when making repairs after a storm. For more information, please visit CFO Patronis’ Assignment of Benefits webpage or read the Office of Insurance Regulation’s AOB Resources.

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About CFO Jimmy Patronis
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a native Floridian and a member of Florida’s Cabinet, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).