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Nancy Smith

AOB Abuse King Addresses His Army of Vendors, Vowing to Get Around the New Law

April 29, 2019 - 7:45am

The Johnny Appleseed of AOB lawsuits has no intention of going quietly -- or, at all. 

Even before the ink on the just-passed "assignment of benefits" (AOB) legislation had dried -- before Gov. Ron DeSantis had a chance to sign the bill into law --  Orlando attorney Harvey Cohen was trying to bleed every last penny out of the scam he invented to make a killing on storm victims' misery.

I Beg to DifferThe AOB reform bill passed last Wednesday.  By Friday, Cohen had made and circulated a video urging vendors to hurry, get their AOB forms signed so their attorneys can file them in court before July 1 -- the date the bill goes into effect.

"You need to have all of your documents sent into us right away," Cohen advises. "As the case is now, as long as the assignment of benefits was signed before July 1, you're OK, but we don't know how that's going to play out in the courts. ... get every AOB sent in. ... Your attorneys need them right now. Stop trying to fight and negotiate. ... Let (your attorney) do the legal work necessary to collect the hard-earned money you deserve. ..."

Have a look at the video on this page.

AND, Cohen goes further. He has “new tactics” to share, he says, to thwart the Florida Legislature's good, commonsense consumer protection.

"We're also going to be having seminars and classes regarding how to go on from here," he says, "...the best ways to protect yourself, to bill for insurance claims from here on out ... and how to collect money without assignment of benefits ..."  

As soon as the Consumer Protection Coalition saw Cohen's video, it issued this statement: “It is precisely this type of gaming of the system that has hurt Florida’s hardworking families and fueled out-of-control AOB litigation, fraud and abuse in both property and auto insurance. Florida’s legislators and other senior elected leaders should be aware that there are already blatant efforts under way to erode the good reforms that the Legislature has just passed on AOB property abuse ..."

How, you ask, did trial lawyer Cohen come up with this scheme in the first place -- turning a well-intended consumer protection into a way to get rich? Most observers speculate that what he did was take advantage of the glut of roofing contractors, water remediators, plumbers and similar contractors who set up shop immediately after Florida's worst hurricane year, 2004. When the big storms stopped coming, they had to find another way to prosper. Many did so honestly. But Cohen launched a very attractive mentoring campaign -- advertising for contractors and vendors -- in effect recruiting them to inflate claims -- even putting out flyers and conducting seminars. It was like dropping a match on a bed of pine needles.

What his video tells us is, we'd better pay attention to Cohen's next move. This is a man who looks for loopholes and gets away with it. It wouldn't surprise anybody if legislators find themselves revisiting and tweaking SB 122 next year.

Good for the broad-based group of professionals who belong to the Consumer Protection Coalition for discovering Cohen's latest bullhorn-call to perpetuate this fraud. 

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith.

Comments

What ever happened to Wisdom and Discernment?

There are bad actors on both sides of the field here. I am an attorney that represents "some" AOB companies. I believe that it is incumbent on both sides to have ethical gatekeepers who turn away companies that you can see are bilking carriers (me) and desk adjusters (for the carriers) that tell THEIR supervisors (in writing) that it is wrong to withhold payment on a legitimate and well-defined invoice. The acrimony and vitriol I'm reading on this thread doesn't push the needle forward here - there WILL be another area that these contractors, that have no ethics, will move to within the insurance space. It's what they do. Corporations are run by people and people, for the most part are generally good. Lawyers need to remember their oaths and not be so concerned about their own pockets. Yes, the law has flaws as passed on AOBs now and it will surely be litigated to death - just like PIP. In the interim, let's put down the swords and figure out a way to restore the homeowners American Dream instead of bilking and bickering.

Floridians contact a local Registered Third Party Evaluator to evaluate the true scope of damages to your home or business. RTPE has no bias, affiliation or interest in a restoration, insurance, third party administrator company, they are not public adjusters or attorneys. These individuals possession the highest level of disaster restoration experience and industry accepted formal education. An RTPE will review the restoration efforts before it begins or after of the contractor to ensure the project is adequately and correctly mitigated/restored/dried in accordance to a globally accepted “standard of care”. An RTPE speaks for the structure, as the structure has no voice. http://registeredtpe.com/

Suppossed you live in a 2 floor house, with Florida weather a strong regular storm damage your roof and water is leaking inside while you are away for few days. Under the new law, you will only receive $3,000 to restore your lost. Now you only have $3000 to fix roof, interior water damage, possible mold, drywall replacement. Etc... WAKE UP Florida, insurers already make billions in profits and now you are being forced to pay insurance for minimum to not coverage. READ NEW BILL, it is a scam on homeowners by insurers.

You obviously do not understand the law or simply cannot read and understand. That is not at all what it says. The $3000 is simply for emergency services-drying, NOT repairs...... People do not be fooled by someone like this trying to scare you.

And you obviously never stayed up all night trying to save someone’s home only to wake up on a Saturday and get a POS email from an insurance company that will not answer the phone but they can send you an Email that says sorry your request for exceeding the $3000.00 limit is denied do to no justification. They never saw the loss never opened the email we sent in can not read the fax machine and will not answer the phone. When they do answer the phone and your starting to justify your work they simply hang up. This is very bad for Florida Period. Sad that these insurance companies have been able to buy out the Politicians again.

If only there was a system to fairly adjudicate these supposed "inflated" claims. They should come up with some sort of system where maybe 6 or so ordinary citizens hear both sides and decide who is right... Doesn't it seem a little preposterous that these so called abuses and inflated bills are so supposedly open and obvious, yet the insurance carrier is scared to then just take them to trial and prove it??? Somehow it hasn't seemed to hurt their record profits or the amount of money they had available to spend on lobbyists and political donations so they can avoid the justice system the rest of us all have to go through.

As a 37 year veteran in the insurance industry serving as an agent, intermediary owner and insurance company director/executive it is my opinion (everyone has one - an opinion that is) that the 80/20 rule applies here. 80% of insurance companies intend to pay claims fairly and 20% play(ed) games including slow, no pay. The plaintiffs bar took action against the 20%ers utilizing the AOB to get these actions resolved. Unfortunately the use of AOB was exploited and exploded to include the 80% of carriers that had good intention to pay legitimate claims. This lead to increased cost of claims settlement that ultimately impacts the cost of insurance. Therefore, we all pay more for insurance whether we file claims or not. So, it begs the question who is to blame - the 20%ers or Plaintiff Bar?

I think the only ones that gain out of this one is the insurance companies. They get to keep under paying claims the way they like. The reason most didnt go to court was because the insurance companies would not prevail for under paying. They tried the same cry wolf tactic in Florida in 2010 with public adjusters. The state run Citizens Property Insurance wanted a study done because they blamed public adjusters for rate increases and claims delays. The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability was asked make an independent study. The study had unintended results. It showed In 2005 homeowners that submitted a claim on their own received $2,029 vs. an average claim of $17,187 when represented by a public adjuster. Using a public adjusting service, homeowners saw an average increase of 747% in their homeowner’s insurance payout. This is the same thing that is happening here with AOBs. There are some bad players but the AOB was the only way a homeowner could have emergency services performed for a loss unless they agreed to pay out of pocket. Articles like this are written by people who obviously drank the koolaid and want to help push the insurance companies agenda to make record profits by continuing to under pay for claims services. Dont believe me. Look up the report yourself. Public Adjuster Representation in Citizens Property Insurance Corporation Claims Extends the Time to Reach a Settlement and Also Increases Payments to Citizens’ Policyholders, Report No. 10-06, January 2010

Dave. It's not the Chicken or Egg question you're implying. It's the Insurers fault. Did the 80% you say are responsible and reasonable do anything to help homeowners? Did they at least publicly decry the actions of the unreasonable 20%? Now... That 20%, although I believe that real number is higher, are going to be protected. Instead of working to change the circumstances that 80% worked to protect themselves, not those they insure. Instead of pushing the current legislation they could have sat down with Lawmakers and worked to change the rules and protect Floridians. They didn't. If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem. They are the problem.

Sounds like the author hasn’t done much research, but instead just blindly accepted what the insurance lobby is putting out. A component of this “anti-AOB” bill is a provision that insurers have to provide a policy that allows AOBs to be used. However, they are allowed to charge more for that type of policy. So, the question that begs to be answered is: if an AOB is such a bad thing for a policyholder, why are the insurance companies now going to get to charge you higher premiums to have that right? Thanks Florida legislature for stripping away the most powerful tool an insured has to make sure their insurance company treats them right. Hope everyone has enough money in their account to get their home fixed after the next hurricane

Not included? The Insurance companies that created the problem. Low balling and denying claims. Slow or no pay. If Insurers had to make fair settlements there never would have been a problem. Instead of holding them responsible they're being protected, at the loss for Floridians.

Come on! Really, the insurance companies are to blame? I think that’s the problem right there. Everyone wants to point to the insurance company as the problem What is low balling an estimate mean? Does it mean the same thing as overstated damage estimates that an AOB tried to protect. Both sides need to be reasonable

I work on the front lines and I can absolutely say the insurance companies underpay, delay, deny and frustrate their insureds. As a matter of fact, I just received a State Farm claim that paid basically our cost without many proper code requirements. Now the fight begins. It’s an evil game in that the insurance companies know the average homeowner has neither the experience or knowledge to get what the LAW states they are entitled to. All this while the mold grows and their house is slowly destroyed. I’ve done this for 25 years and I can unequivocally state insurance companies are truly evil.

I've lived in Florida all my life. I've watched Insurers get worse and worse. They send out their Adjustor, who may well have no construction experience, to tell the Insured what they'll pay. And when disaster strikes everything is more expensive. Materials are harder to get. Trained construction professionals have to be brought in and provided with housing and meals. Even in good times when the Insurance Company makes a routine claim they don't treat folks fairly. Are there "bad actors"? Yeah. There have been insurance scams since insurance got started. And the scammers can be jailed. Insurance Companies don't go to jail, their employees and executives don't go to jail. If they did they would act more fairly. The many are punished for the actions of the few. That's unfair and unamerican. Instead of trying to create balance lawmakers just tilted the playing field even more towards the money, err, Insurance Companies. Yeah. I blame the multibillion dollar corporations.

Aob protected me after my house flooded. The insurance company shorted me nearly 20k. My contractor used aob and my was completed with no headaches. The company who did the work dealt with thrme headaches not me. I think people will see the importance of aob after homeowners start getting sued for payment issues created by the insurance industry. The insurance industry has put all of the risk back on the homeowners. Now watch the real fraud florida.

Thats because your claim was worth 20k less and you hired a scam contractor.

High percentage of claims are underpaid. Most dont know it but that adjuster that values your damaged property usually has little to no construction knowledge. He takes a $500 two week course to be able to assess your property damages. Contractors are needed to assess the true value of the damage and the aob insures the contractor gets paid for the repairs. Without him you will get a check and be hunting the cheapest repair you can find to stay under your checks value. If you truly want your home brought back to prestorm condition hire a contractor and sign an aob, its the only way.

During declared emergency, the state is Florida can issue an emergency adjusters license valid for 6 months. No prior experience or prior license required. The lack of field knowledge in the field will make the claim min 30 to 40 percent to low. I see all the time. Why can’t the law makers put higher requirements in the adjusters? What a joke - the law makers are bought.

Lets not even discuss the "consultants" who have no experience in anything and submit exorbitant estimates that don't come close to accuracy and have an AOB signed allowing them full access to the claim. By claiming to be a consultant they also are not required to have a license and abide by Florida statutes. Are there times the insurance companies should pay more? Yes. Are there more often times when contractors, PAs, attorneys, consultants, and whoever else, takes advantage for profit? ABSOLUTELY. DO NOT BE FOOLED PEOPLE! As the last roofing contractor I met was only six months out of bartending! Or how about the reps, NOT roofers who go door to door telling people they have damage without having even looked at it!

This guy does not care about people, just him. He does not tell you that you coverage will cost more next year does he, If you have a water claim, call your insurance co, they can put you in touch with water mitigation company's who dont as for you to sign your right full benefits to them.

Florida's own version of Michael Avenatti!

bingo

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nancy smith
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