Windshield damage proposals teed up


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Mirroring a proposal filed in the Senate, a House Republican on Tuesday filed a bill that could lead to required inspections before damaged windshields get repaired or replaced.

The bill (HB 811), filed by Rep. Rene Plasencia, R-Orlando, comes amid a debate about whether a practice known as “assignment of benefits” is driving up insurance costs.

An identical measure (SB 396), filed by Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, was filed in October and is scheduled to be taken up next Tuesday by the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

Assignment of benefits has been a controversial issue in recent years, primarily because of residential water-damage claims. But it also has become an issue in claims for windshield damage. In assignment of benefits, policyholders sign over claims to contractors, who perform work and then pursue payment from insurers.

The insurance industry contends that the practice leads to fraud and increased litigation, while contractors and plaintiffs' attorneys argue it can help make sure insurance claims get handled properly.

The Plasencia and Hukill bills deal only with the windshield issue. The measures would allow insurers to require inspections before windshield repairs or replacements are authorized.