The 2021 Florida Legislative Session concluded last week and quiet settled over the auto glass services industry with the recognition that the much-ballyhooed legislative fight over Assignment of Benefit legislation never materialized and the bill finally died with the end of the state’s annual legislative session.
Florida Democratic Senator Linda Stewart filed a bill early in the session that that took aim at glass companies that entice customers to assign their insurance claims with everything from gift cards to a box of steaks. The bill sought to prohibit “motor vehicle repair shops and their employees from offering anything of value to a customer in exchange for making an insurance claim for motor vehicle glass replacement or repair.” The bill, SB 906, was referred to Banking and Insurance, Judiciary and Rules but never saw the Florida sun.
Back in November, much was made of the fact that a former state insurance regulator was joining a major firm involved in representing auto insurers regarding “fraud in benefit assignments regarding windshield glass replacements in cars.” Beth Vecchioli told the legal publication Law360 that “it is basically driving up care insurance rates because there’s so much fraud in the system and that’s one reason why we high auto insurance rates in the state.”
In March, the Tampa Tribune highlighted the bill saying that motor vehicle windshield claims were one of the state’s hot spots for litigation and that the Tampa Bay areas was “ground zero” for the action. While Florida does have an assignment of benefit law in place, it does not currently cover automotive claims such as auto glass. Previous legislative efforts to expand the law have also failed.
The legislature did shine some light on the issue for one day this session, literally one day. On March 2, the relevant language of the Assignment of Benefits bill was inserted into a substitute version of the big auto insurance no-fault reform proposal that eventually passed and made headlines around the state. However, on the same day another substitute version of the insurance bill emerged and moved forward, albeit without the AOB language. The auto insurance bill proceeded toward passage without the glass AOB language and the glass bill, SB 906, never moved out of committee.