Assignment of Benefits is hot topic, especially in the Florida insurance market as the number of scams related to this practice increase.
What is Assignment of Benefits?
Assignment of Benefits is an agreement a repair contractor may ask you to sign that transfers your insurance policy benefits and rights to them. This eliminates your ability to work with your insurance company adjuster and may result in theft of your claims payment. While this practice has been around for over 100 years, and was originally designed to streamline the claims and repair process for homeowner, it's been increasingly exploited by scam artists, especially in Florida over the last several years. The challenge is that the scam artists are getting paid while homeowners are losing their ability to get claims payments, and it delays the claims process.
If your home is damaged by a storm or other event, the good news is that Heritage Insurance has a pre-approved network for you called Contractors Alliance Network (CAN). When working with CAN, you will sign paperwork that helps expedite your claims process compared to delaying it while lining the pockets of scam artist.
A scam artist contractor may encourage you to sign an Assignment of Benefits document under the guise that it will make the claims process much easier for you. Because of rampant fraud, this practice can trigger a chain of events that may result in a tremendous amount of hardship for the homeowner as unscrupulous contractors are now taking advantage of loopholes which allow them to inflate the cost of the repairs and request excessive claim amounts from insurers.
What Does This Mean for Homeowners?
Homeowners insurers are well-versed on the typical cost of repairs and will deny payment when presented with these ridiculous claim amounts from the contractor. The contractor gets together with their lawyer and files suit against the insurance company. For the homeowner who will likely be named as a party in the lawsuit, this could mean hours spent on depositions and other court-related activities. And, you could be sued for any remaining unpaid repair costs, or find that a lien has been put on your house in an attempt to collect. All homeowners throughout the state can expect premium costs to increase when insurance companies are tied up with unnecessary litigation.
How do Homeowners Protect Against this Abuse?
Heritage Insurance makes the claim process easy so there's no need to sign an unauthorized Assignment of Benefits. Call Heritage Insurance first! 855-439-4719, Option 1. Heritage Insurance has an authorized repair network that will expedite the claim process. While you may be contacted by non-authorized third party vendors to do repairs, please do not contract with any vendor except a vendor approved by Heritage. Policyholders will be asked to sign approved forms through a program called Contractors Alliance Network (CAN). Contractors Alliance Network prequalifies the best mitigation specialists and general contractors, who provide unparalleled service. The contractors are trusted, and licensed contractors who use the most effective mitigation and restoration techniques to ensure that your loss is handled quickly and professionally.
If you need immediate mitigation assistance such as water removal or a tarp on your roof, please fill out our please fill out our dispatching form and we will dispatch a repair team to your house.
Our Claims Department is available at (855) 415-7120, option 1 for policyholders who need to report a claim. Policies originating from Sawgrass Mutual should call (877) 853-4336, option 1 to report a claim. Commercial property policyholders should call (855) 439-4719.
For more information on how to stomp out this type of insurance fraud, see this brochure: Stomp Out Fraud