Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1002 into law last week with the goal of ending assignment-of-benefit (AOB)-related litigation involving cracked windshields.
Also known as the Windshield Repair Bill, SB 1002 aims to prevent glass repair shops and attorneys from exploiting a law meant to encourage motorists to repair or replace damaged windshields.
“This is an important win for the health of the marketplace and Florida consumers,” said Michael Carlson, president and CEO of the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida and a “Fix the Cracks” partner. “Eyes have been opened to the cottage industry of predatory claims and litigation. The signing of SB 1002 means Florida can reset and even become an example to other states tackling this type of exploitation.”
The abusive windshield litigation reportedly led to exorbitant legal fees.
As previously reported in the Florida Record, ending AOB litigation is expected to reduce the number of lawsuits filed, lower loss costs, and minimize the comp coverage component of auto insurance policies.
“Ultimately, it should impact auto insurance rates but of course, you’re gonna have to go through one cycle to see the reduction in outlays regarding this before the actuary affects policyholders,” said Tom Gaitens, Florida executive director of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA).
In Florida in 2011, there were 591 windshield lawsuits filed compared to 37,000 in 2022, according to data from Fix the Cracks, an initiative that aims to protect consumers from predatory auto glass claims and litigation.
“This is an egalitarian issue,” Gaitens told the Florida Record. “It affects every consumer in Florida who drives obviously and who has auto insurance. The average claim in the United States was under $300 per windshield claim, and in Florida, it was about $160 more per person on average.”
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) and Rep. Griff Griffitts (R-Panama City Beach).
The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA), the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, the Florida Justice Reform Institute (FJRI), the International Association of Special Investigation Units (IASIU), and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) all supported the Windshield Repair Bill.
“In 2011, there were almost 600 claims filed related to these windshields and it grew to 28,000 by 2021,” Gaitens added. “Last year, claims jumped to 37,000. It’s the same issue we had with roofing where it became a cottage industry for these frivolous lawsuits. In Florida specifically, 90% of the lawsuits that were filed related to windshield claims and they were filed by 20 attorneys.”