Storm Prep to Avoid Scams

assignment of benefits

It happens all too often. A vicious storm wipes through the region, causing damage to trees, vehicles, and homes. Maybe you were one of the victims, or maybe you were one of the lucky ones. A day or two following the storm, your family was approached by an individual offering to inspect your roof, replace the crack in your windshield or trim the tree in your front yard – for FREE. The individual holds out a form asking you to sign, promising to work with your insurance company so you don’t have to worry about a thing. Without giving it much more thought, you sign the form. You just became a victim of AOB fraud.

AOB scams like this happen every day, especially in climates that are subject to severe weather and frequent storms, such as Florida. The fact is becoming a victim of an AOB scam can end up costing families more than what they realize. Storm season is here, so taking certain precautions now can save you time and money down the road.

These tips can help you not only prepare for the upcoming storm season, but to also prevent an AOB scam.

What is an AOB?

Assignment of Benefits (AOB) is an agreement between a homeowner and an insurance company, which stipulates the transfer of rights, benefits, and financial interest to a third party. The insurance company is then responsible for making payments to the contracted third party for any repairs related to a claim. Although this agreement takes the pressure off the homeowner to deal with a contractor and the insurance company in the event of a claim, the homeowner also loses the ability to work with the insurance company.

AOB fraud occurs when a contractor or other third party approaches an individual or family claiming to be affiliated with the homeowner’s insurance company, and gets the homeowner to sign an agreement promising to make repairs to a property and to handle the insurance paperwork. The third party then collects the insurance money and takes off, leaving the homeowner stranded – without repairs or insurance money.

Storm Preparation to Avoid Scams

The good news is there are some things homeowners can do to prevent AOB scams. So, the next time there is severe weather in the forecast, here are some things you can do to not only protect your home, property, and vehicle from damage, but also to protect your family from an AOB scam.

  • Gather paperwork on previous repairs
  • Walk around the outside of your home and property and take pictures to assess current conditions before a storm
  • Re-assess your home and property after a storm, taking pictures as necessary to determine if there is legitimate damage
  • Prepare a list of legitimate, credible third party contractors directly from your insurance company to call in the event repairs are needed

By taking the time to follow these steps before and after the next storm, homeowners will save themselves a great deal of time, money, and hassle by avoiding an AOB scam.

homeowners insuranceHow Synergy Insurance Can Help

If you believe you have become a victim of an AOB scam or if you have questions regarding storm preparation, contact your Synergy agent today.

If disaster were to strike, would all of your valuables be accounted for? Download our Home Inventory Checklist today, and take the guesswork out of your insurance claim.

Assignment of Benefits – What You Need To Know

assignment of benefits

Being a Florida homeowner can come with a lot of risks – a lot of them being weather related. During the 2018 storm season, you may need to consider getting work done on your house prior to or after a storm approaches. Before you hire a contractor, there are things you need to be aware of. Check out this list of important information regarding an Assignment of Benefits, and make sure you’re prepared before you sign an agreement.

What is an AOB?

An Assignment of Benefits is an agreement between you and a third party where you transfer your rights, benefits and financial interest in an insurance policy claim to another party. It is commonly used when hiring a contractor, roofer or water mitigation company to make repairs to your property. Once the Assignment of Benefits is complete, your insurance company must make payments directly to the party completing repairs and you lose the ability to deal directly with your insurance company for your claim.  This is a legal arrangement, but can allow unscrupulous contractors to submit improper claims, causing legal battles to ensue.  You should ALWAYS contact your insurance company to notify them of damages before taking any action to make permanent repairs after a storm. You can avoid the risk of this happening to you by recognizing warning signs and following some simple guidelines.

Warning Signs of AOB Seekers

  • Someone knocks on your door to let you know you have damage you weren’t aware of
  • Contract contains the words “Assignment of Benefit”
  • A contractor offers free services, such as remodeling other areas of your home not affected by damage
  • The Vendor offers to handle your claim and pay your deductible for you
  • Vendors show up immediately following major storms that affect your neighborhood

Prior to Signing Contract

  • Call your Synergy Claims Department, notify them of your damage and let them know a vendor has contacted you
  • Do NOT begin any permanent repairs before you have notified your insurance company or allowed them to inspect damages
  • Before agreeing to third party repairs, request everything in writing, including total cost, scope of project, and timeline
  • Look very carefully for any “Assignment of Benefits” language and, if possible, have someone else review the agreement with you as well
  • Get more than one repair estimate and never feel pressured to decide immediately
  • Always ensure that the vendor is licensed and it’s always a good idea to request references

What if you do sign an AOB?

  • homeowners insuranceAny benefits received from your claim payments will go directly to the third party and not you
  • You lose all decision making ability about how the damage will be repaired and how long it will take

If you feel that something isn’t right regarding your AOB, please contact Synergy immediately.

If disaster were to strike, would all of your valuables be accounted for? Click the image to download our Home Inventory Checklist, and take the guesswork out of your insurance claim.