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Windshield Damage Claims: Insurance Companies Win One

February 14, 2019 - 9:00am

Supporters say the proposal could prevent shady insurance claims. Opponents say it would hurt small businesses.

But after a lengthy debate Wednesday, a House panel approved a bill (HB 323) that would prevent auto-glass shops from offering cash, gift cards and other incentives to motorists to attract windshield-repair work.

House Insurance & Banking Chairwoman Cyndi Stevenson, R-Saint Johns, pointed to concerns about “bad behavior” that can result from such incentives. That includes unnecessary insurance claims that could lead to higher premiums for motorists.

“I have been offered money to fix my windshield in a parking lot and be paid for my trouble, and my windshield is just fine,” said Stevenson, whose panel voted 11-2 to approve the measure.

But some lawmakers and opponents of the bill argued it would hurt small windshield-repair businesses that compete with large corporations that have arrangements with insurance companies. Todd Palmer, a co-owner of Mr. Auto Glass in the Tampa Bay area, said offering incentives is a way for small repair businesses to compete.

“To me, this bill looks like it is going to cause a monopoly in the market because the insurance companies will pick and choose winners and losers,” said Rep. Ardian Zika, a Land O’ Lakes Republican who voted against the measure. “As a believer in the free market and consumer choice … I don’t see a sufficient amount of consumer protection here where the consumer can choose.”

The Insurance and Banking Subcommittee took up the issue amid a broader battle in the Capitol about the insurance practice known as assignment of benefits. That practice involves policyholders signing over claims to contractors who then pursue payments from insurance companies.

Insurance companies are seeking changes in assignment of benefits because they say the current system is riddled with fraud and litigation, while contractors and plaintiffs’ attorneys contend assignment of benefits help make sure claims are paid properly. The so-called AOB issue initially focused on residential water-damage claims, but it also includes windshield-damage claims.

Rep. Richard Stark, a Weston Democrat who is sponsoring the windshield-repair bill, said Florida motorists who have comprehensive auto-insurance policies can get windshields replaced without paying deductibles. He said incentives are not allowed to entice policyholders to file other types of insurance claims.

“The goal of the bill is not to put people out of business,” said Stark, an insurance broker. “The goal of the bill is to prevent people from offering cash to file a claim. I mean, we don’t see it in any other part of the insurance field.”


Here’s your sign Florida (actually two signs): Despite good intentions, we are biting ourself in the wallet with all of the AOB, one-way attorney fees and prompt pay laws. Those laws combine to make the insurance industry an easy target for fraud. In response, the insurance companies charge higher rates than in states without these types of laws and question huge numbers of claims. What do you expect?

How about a law that prevents insurance companies from including in their premium rate base the legal expenses they incur from lost lawsuits? They are making profits on claims that they unlawfully underpay or reject.

Yes I work for the insurance industry, BUT I also pay the ridiculously high premiums due to FRAUD and INFLATED CLAIMS! The OIR only allows insurance carriers to make a certain profit level, therefore, not allowing for overcharging of consumers. So if claims are paid equitably and fairly for all, then the consumer ultimately wins. Overinflating or falsifying claims by the windshield business, or any other business for that matter (doctors, chiros, body shops, roofers, etc...), premiums will eventually go down.

How about "going after" the OVERLOADED "10/12 Wheel dump trucks" with NO/or damaged bed-load covers plying MOST of our highways nowadays, CAUSING WINDSHIELD DAMAGE ! ! !

Let the free market decide. Government continually dictating business practices disenfranchises the consumer.

People in the insurance business paid handsomely to get this approved...

Do you want to hire a company that works for you or for the insurance company? That's the common thread in all of these issues. Auto and property insurance policyholders get punished when they exercise their right to choose who gets their business. The insurance companies want to steer policyholders to companies that already have made sweetheart arrangements with insurers. Do the insurers get money back when they send policyholders to Safelite? Who would know? Nobody in the Florida Legislature has the courage to ask for that information. These so-called conservative, pro-small business, pro-free market are nothing but collections agents for the insurance companies. With its definite pro-insurance bias, this edition of the Florida Legislature has opened up as the most anti-consumer Legislature in memory. This House committee vote is where lawmakers crossed the Rubicon.

In Florida, the entire insurance industry has become a sewer.

Finally, sanity prevails. This isn't a big business versus small business per se, its about the insurance carrier leveraging their size to extract the lowest cost for windshield repair and keep fraud down. Those two measures alone serve to keep everyone's insurance premium lower. Small businesses that do not create a viable business plan or undertake enough due diligence prior to entering mature market with razor thin margins to begin with, will likely get flushed out in the first 18-24 months. Don't penalize the motoring public. Now let's fix AOB and move on to repealing the no fault statute.

Silly, Rabbit! I see you got your insurance industry talking points this morning. Are you an intern from one of those silk stocking lobbying/public relations firms? IT's not your fault. You're just a communications student trying to make a mark, right? I bet you grew up with a dream of spreading misinformation so mammoth corporations have an easier time sticking it to the small people. And to the chair of the committee who said people were getting "free" windshields. Here's something for you to remember: Insurance companies don't provide comprehensive auto insurance coverage for free. The policyholder pays for it. Using a service you pay for isn't stealing. Stop making people feel like it is.

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