Ditchmen • NUCA of Florida - Page 16

prices for their work, as they will seek direct reimbursement for the full amount of their invoices from a homeowners' insurance carrier, and file a lawsuit directly against the insurer if the invoice is not paid in full,'' the brief said. "Under the guise of aiding insureds in emergency situations, vendors use AOBs (assignments of benefits) for their own profit, forcing insurance carriers to choose between paying

substantially in-

flated invoices or

defending them-

selves in costly

litigation and

facing potential

liability for ven-

dors' attorney's

fees and costs, in

addition to their


But attorneys for

One Call Property

Services argued in

a brief that case

law in Florida has

long upheld the

validity of such assignments.

"Post-loss assignments are often given in payment for services performed after a loss occurs so that the insured does not have to pay in advance for covered services which are often performed on an emergency basis,'' the brief said. "The courts have never imposed a condition on the insured of adjusting the loss or of reaching agreement, final

judgment or appraisal award before an assignment of benefits can be enforced. Such a construction would allow an insurer to defeat a claim simply by refusing to cooperate and would delay an insured's ability to make emergency repairs."

The appeals court said Wednesday it wasn't in a position to evaluate the policy arguments.

"There is simply

insufficient evi-

dence in the

record in this

case --- or in any

of the related

cases --- to de-

cide whether

assignments of

benefits are

significantly in-

creasing the risk

to insurers,'' the


opinion said. "If

studies show

that these

assignments are inviting fraud and abuse, then the Legislature is in the best position to investigate and undertake comprehensive reform."

(Article Source: News Service of Florida)