Assignment of benefits, aggressive contractors and cargo theft were the primary focus of legislation in a number of states this year, according to Alan Haskins, director of government affairs for the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
In a podcast interview with Claims Journal, he described activity in several states along with the organization’s continued involvement in a federal fraud prevention partnership.
Assignment of benefits and solicitation of claimants involving small claims of $4000 to $5000 is rampant in Florida. In these situations, a contractor obtains an assignment of benefits and when the claim is denied a lawsuit is filed. Unfortunately, Florida Senate Bill 596 failed to pass.
Solicitation by roofing contractors after devastating weather events was also targeted by legislation in Kentucky and New York. Haskins said a roofing contractor should be licensed and bonded. Kentucky House Bill 366 regulating roofing contractors also failed to pass.
In New York, the NICB in conjunction with Protecting Owners from Roofing and Contractor Harm (PORCH) coalition, ran public service announcements educating consumers on rogue roofing contractors, Haskins said. New York Senate Bill 5126, which sets protections for consumers for signing a contract to repair property damage from storms, is still pending.
Even states where no legislation pends, law enforcement are dealing with a rise in unscrupulous contractors.
Maui police Chief Tivoli Faaumu reported that his department has seen an increase in unlicensed contractor fraud. He says suspects often target unsuspecting victims.
“The folks that we are dealing with now is our elderly folks where contractors will come in (to their homes) and propose to do things for them and take their money and walk away,” Faaumu told Honolulu station KHON-TV.
Maui County Prosecutor John Kim said the key to catching the suspects is getting victims to come forward.
“We had a case with a guy who was what they call a ‘gypsy roofer,’ and he went from house to house victimizing senior citizens,” Kim said. “In that case, there was at least two victims who did not want to prosecute, did not want to be embarrassed, but we had several others who did come forward and we were able to prosecute him successfully.”
In Florida and Arizona where there is no applicable deductible on auto glass claims, legislation targeting aggressive auto glass chains was successful. Arizona House Bill 2500, an amendment to the Arizona Revised Statutes, relating to auto glass repair unlawful practices is still pending further review.
Cargo theft, a continuing problem nationwide, was also the target of new legislation this year in several states, including Mississippi, New Mexico and Alabama. A cargo bill was passed in Alabama and bills expanding existing cargo theft law passed in California and Florida.
At the federal level, the NICB continues to partner with the Department of Justice and the HHS healthcare fraud prevention partnership to continue to identify doctors who defraud the healthcare and property/casualty industry.
Another federal initiative, the fraud prevention organization is involved in is the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, an ongoing project that focuses on providing consumer access to the data.
The Associated Press contributed to this content.
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