The Florida Supreme Court decided on Dec. 27 that it will hear arguments about the insurance practice known as "assignment of benefits".
Currently, homeowners who have repairs performed on their houses sign over, or "assign", the money that their insurance company allocates to them, their "benefits", to their contractor. The responsibility then falls on the person performing the repairs to recover what they're owed from the insurance company themselves.
Insurance companies have grown tired of the longstanding policy of assignment of benefits. They argue that it's become quite litigious and that it's riddled with too much fraud. They note that this has caused insurance premiums to soar.
A recent lower court ruling motivated a St. Lucie County homeowner and their insurance company to petition the Florida Supreme Court to hear their case.
In lower court filings, a homeowner detailed how they hired Restoration 1 of Port St. Lucie to clean up their home's water damage and assigned benefits to them. Their insurer, Ark Royal Insurance Co., declined to pay the full amount of the contractor's claims on the grounds that both she, her spouse and their mortgage lender, PNC Bank, failed to get prior approval for the repairs from them.
Restoration 1 filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the insurer first in circuit court, then in the 4th District Court of Appeal and lost both cases. These rulings conflicted with a 5th District Court of Appeal one, though. This motivated them to ask the Florida Supreme Court to step in and hear their case.
Their expectation is that by getting the highest court in the state involved in the matter, it will to minimize conflict and promote unity among insurance companies and how they handle their assignees statewide in the future.
Preparing a case for trial can be costly as there is significant research of past cases and legal statutes, analysis of your specific matter and the building of a strategy for how to best resolve it involved. Working with an attorney who is effective at managing costs and achieving timely results is important, especially when your home or money, things that you've worked so hard for, are on the line.