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What is an assignment of benefits?
The last time you sought medical care, you likely made an appointment with your provider, got the treatment you needed, paid your copay or deductible, and that was it. No paperwork, no waiting to be reimbursed; your doctor received payment from your insurance company and you both went on with your lives.
This is how most people receive health care in the U.S. This system, known as assignment of benefits or AOB, is now being used with other types of insurance, including auto and homeowners coverage .
What is an assignment of benefits?
An AOB is a legal agreement that allows your insurance company to directly pay a third party for services performed on your behalf. In the case of health care, it could be your doctor or another medical professional providing care. With a homeowners, renters, or auto insurance claim, the third party could be a contractor, auto repair shop, or other facility.
Assignment of benefits is legal, thanks to a concept known as freedom of contract, which says two parties may make a private agreement, including the forfeiture of certain rights, and the government may not interfere. There are exceptions, making freedom of contract something less than an absolute right. For example, the contract may not violate the law or contain unfair terms.
Not all doctors or contractors utilize AOBs. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make sure the doctor or service provider and you are on the same page when it comes to AOBs before treatment or work begins.
How an AOB works
The function of an AOB agreement varies depending on the type of insurance policy involved, the healthcare provider, contractor, or service provider, and increasingly, state law. Although an AOB is normal in health insurance, other applications of assignment of benefits have now included the auto and homeowners insurance industry.
Because AOBs are common in health care, you probably don’t think twice about signing a piece of paper that says “assignment of benefits” across the top. But once you sign it, you’re likely turning over your right to deal with your insurance company regarding service from that provider. Why would you do this?
According to Dr. David Berg of Redirect Health , the reason is simple: “Without an AOB in place, the patient themselves would be responsible for paying the cost of their service and would then file a claim with their insurance company for reimbursement.”
With homeowners or auto insurance, the same rules apply. Once you sign the AOB, you are effectively out of the picture. The contractor who reroofs your house or the mechanic who rebuilds your engine works with your insurance company by filing a claim on your behalf and receiving their money without your help or involvement.
“Each state has its own rules, regulations, and permissions regarding AOBs,” says Gregg Barrett, founder and CEO of WaterStreet , a cloud-based P&C insurance administration platform. “Some states require a strict written breakdown of work to be done, while others allow assignment of only parts of claims.”
Within the guidelines of the specific insurance rules for AOBs in your state, the general steps include:
- You and your contractor draw up an AOB clause as part of the contract.
- The contract stipulates the exact work that will be completed and all necessary details.
- The contractor sends the completed AOB to the insurance company where an adjuster reviews, asks questions, and resolves any discrepancies.
- The contractor’s name (or that of an agreed-upon party) is listed to go on the settlement check.
After work is complete and signed off, the insurer will issue the check and the claim will be considered settled.
Example of an assignment of benefits
If you’re dealing with insurance, how would an AOB factor in? Let’s take an example. “Say you have a water leak in the house,” says Angel Conlin, chief insurance officer at Kin Insurance . “You call a home restoration company to stop the water flow, clean up the mess, and restore your home to its former glory. The restoration company may ask for an assignment of benefits so it can deal directly with the insurance company without your input.”
In this case, by eliminating the homeowner, whose interests are already represented by an experienced insurance adjustor, the AOB reduces redundancy, saves time and money, and allows the restoration process to proceed with much greater efficiency.
When would you need to use an assignment of benefits?
An AOB can simplify complicated and costly insurance transactions and allow you to turn these transactions over to trusted experts, thereby avoiding time-consuming negotiations.
An AOB also frees you from paying the entire bill upfront and seeking reimbursement from your insurance company after work has been completed or services rendered. Since you are not required to sign an assignment of benefits, failure to sign will result in you paying the entire medical bill and filing for reimbursement. The three most common uses of AOBs are with health insurance, car insurance, and homeowners insurance.
Assignment of benefits for health insurance
As discussed, AOBs in health insurance are commonplace. If you have health insurance, you’ve probably signed AOBs for years. Each provider (doctor) or practice requires a separate AOB. From your point of view, the big advantages of an AOB are that you receive medical care, your doctor and insurance company work out the details and, in the event of a disagreement, those two entities deal with each other.
Assignment of benefits for car owners
If your car is damaged in an accident and needs extensive repair, the benefits of an AOB can quickly add up. Not only will you have your automobile repaired with minimal upfront costs to you, inconvenience will be almost nonexistent. You drop your car off (or have it towed), wait to be called, told the repair is finished, and pick it up. Similar to a health care AOB, disagreements are worked out between the provider and insurer. You are usually not involved.
Assignment of benefits for homeowners
When your home or belongings are damaged or destroyed, your primary concern is to “return to normal.” You want to do this with the least amount of hassle. An AOB allows you to transfer your rights to a third party, usually a contractor, freeing you to deal with the crisis at hand.
When you sign an AOB, your contractor can begin immediately working on damage repair, shoring up against additional deterioration, and coordinating with various subcontractors without waiting for clearance or communication with you.
The fraud factor
No legal agreement, including an AOB, is free from the possibility of abuse or fraud. Built-in safeguards are essential to ensure the benefits you assign to a third party are as protected as possible.
In terms of what can and does go wrong, the answer is: plenty. According to the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMICs), examples of AOB fraud include inflated invoices or charges for work that hasn’t been done. Another common tactic is to sue the insurance company, without the policyholder’s knowledge or consent, something that can ultimately result in the policyholder being stuck with the bill and higher insurance premiums due to losses experienced by the insurer.
State legislatures have tried to protect consumers from AOB fraud and some progress has been made. Florida, for example, passed legislation in 2019 that gives consumers the right to rescind a fraudulent contract and requires that AOB contracts include an itemized description of the work to be done. Other states, including North Dakota, Kansas, and Iowa have all signed NAMIC-backed legislation into law to protect consumers from AOB fraud.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), offers advice for consumers to help avoid AOB fraud and abuse:
- File a claim with your insurer before you hire a contractor. This ensures you know what repairs need to be made.
- Don’t pay in full upfront. Legitimate contractors do not require it.
- Get three estimates before selecting a contractor.
- Get a full written contract and read it carefully before signing.
- Don’t be pressured into signing an AOB. You are not required to sign an AOB.
Pros and cons of an assignment of benefits
The advantages and disadvantages of an AOB agreement depend largely on the amount and type of protection your state’s insurance laws provide.
Pros of assignment of benefits
With proper safeguards in place to reduce opportunities for fraud, AOBs have the ability to streamline and simplify the insurance claims process.
- An AOB frees you from paying for services and waiting for reimbursement from your insurer.
- Some people appreciate not needing to negotiate with their insurer.
- You are not required to sign an AOB.
Cons of assignment of benefits
As with most contracts, AOBs are a double-edged sword. Be aware of potential traps and ask questions if you are unsure.
- Signing an AOB could make you the victim of a scam without knowing it until your insurer refuses to pay.
- An AOB doesn’t free you from the ultimate responsibility to pay for services rendered, which could drag you into expensive litigation if things go south.
- Any AOB you do sign is legally binding.
An AOB, as the health insurance example shows, can simplify complicated and costly insurance transactions and help consumers avoid time-consuming negotiations. And it can save upfront costs while letting experts work out the details.
It can also introduce a nightmare scenario laced with fraud requiring years of costly litigation. Universal state-level legislation with safeguards is required to avoid the latter. Until that is in place, your best bet is to work closely with your insurer when signing an AOB. Look for suspicious or inflated charges when negotiating with contractors, providers, and other servicers.
EDITORIAL DISCLOSURE : The advice, opinions, or rankings contained in this article are solely those of the Fortune Recommends ™ editorial team. This content has not been reviewed or endorsed by any of our affiliate partners or other third parties.
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What is an assignment of benefits agreement?
How does assignment of benefits work.
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Assignment of benefits for homeowners
Assignment of benefits in healthcare, pros and cons of an aob agreement, canceling an aob agreement, the bottom line, an assignment of benefits contract lets someone else bill an insurance provider on your behalf.
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- An assignment of benefits is a contract that lets a service provider bill your insurance company directly.
- These agreements are often used in industries like healthcare and home repair.
- Assigning your benefits to someone else can streamline payments, but may increase fraud risk.
When you obtain insurance, whether for your health or your home , you're probably thinking about what the coverage will pay for, not how the payments will be made.
Policyholders who sign an assignment of benefits agreement allow their insurance benefits to go directly to the service provider. Usually, this eliminates the headache of dealing with an insurance company's claims department. But it can also open you up to potential fraud.
An assignment of benefits (AOB) agreement is a contract that a policyholder signs to allow a third party to receive their insurance benefits.
"An assignment of benefits is designating who's going to receive the payment that the insurance company issues after a claim is received," explains Lauren Winans, chief executive officer and principal HR consultant at Next Level Benefits , an HR consulting firm that helps companies navigate employee benefits including insurance.
Without an AOB agreement in place, the policyholder would pay the other party out of their own pocket, then file a claim with their insurance company to get reimbursed.
For example, if you go to a doctor, you might sign an AOB agreement so that their billing department can deal with the insurance provider directly. Ideally, that would prevent you from having to get involved with the claims department at your insurance company.
That said, there can still be circumstances where you have to get involved, even with an assignment of benefits agreement — for example, if you owe the difference between what your doctor charges and what the insurer pays.
These AOB agreements can vary depending on factors like the type of insurance policy, the provider, and state laws. In some cases, an AOB happens automatically. If you go to an in-network doctor, they're under contract with that insurance company. That contract states that the provider will handle billing and receive payment directly from the insurance company, Winans says. But with out-of-network providers you might sign an AOB agreement as part of standard check-in paperwork. That way the doctor can still receive at least some payment directly from the insurance company, and then bill you for the remainder.
Similarly, with property insurance, a contractor or other type of service professional might ask you to sign an assignment of benefits for repair work. When that happens, the service provider would be able to file a claim on your behalf and receive reimbursement from the insurance company.
The exact terms of an AOB agreement vary based on who's asking you to sign. Some agreements might be specific to one type of repair or project, whereas others might cover several. Some agreements go beyond an assignment of benefits and give the contractor full power of attorney rights, says Angel Conlin, chief insurance officer at Kin Insurance , a home insurance provider. Insurers can also differ in how they handle these agreements. A 2019 Florida law, for example, enables insurers to offer policies that restrict the right to use an assignment of benefits agreement, as long as the policy is offered at a discount. Conlin says Kin Insurance policyholders who waive their assignment of benefits right save an average of 5% on their policy. "The good news is they get a discount for giving up a right they probably never knew they had and never really want to use," she says.
For homeowners' insurance, an AOB agreement could be used if a contractor wants to get paid directly from the insurer. In many cases, says Conlin, that happens in a high-pressure situation.
"You discover that there's a water leak and your house is flooding. So you quickly call the fastest place you can find," she says. "Then you're standing there with some papers on a clipboard in front of you to sign so they can start sucking the water out. Oftentimes, there's an assignment of benefits included in there."
In healthcare, an AOB agreement might be used to pay a medical professional that you don't necessarily choose, like an anesthesiologist, Winans says. You may have chosen a surgeon, but the anesthesiologist that gets assigned to you the day of the surgery might bill separately. So, you might be asked to sign an assignment of benefits when you check in. "You're essentially signing that anyone who sees me today can accept payment directly from the insurance company, it doesn't have to go through me as the patient," Winans adds.
An AOB agreement can make the claims and payment processes easier at times, but there are also some downsides to note. Much depends on the situation, so consider factors like what your insurer allows and what the service provider is specifically asking for.
Here are some general pros and cons to consider:
Even though an AOB agreement can streamline the claims and payment processes, there can be downsides that come with transferring benefits to another party, particularly with property insurance. "Because they now stand in the shoes of the insured, they can do everything without asking the insured's permission," Conlin says. For example, a vendor could inflate a claim and commit fraud, she says, causing the claim to get denied and leaving the homeowner unable to get their home repaired. Or, the vendor could sue the insurance company on your behalf for payment on an inflated claim. "So then the insured doesn't have any idea that all of a sudden they have a lawsuit on their record," Conlin adds.
In Florida, these types of lawsuits became an issue due to a state law that helped contractors get attorney's fees paid for by the insurance company. That incentivized some attorneys to work with contractors to obtain AOB agreements and then sue insurers. "That way, the vendor gets to inflate the amount they're demanding, and the attorney gets attorney's fees. So it was this sort of symbiotic partnership between them," Conlin says. A 2022 Florida law removed this allowance, but contractors are trying to fight it in court .
Depending on the circumstances, including laws where you live, policyholders might have some flexibility to cancel an assignment of benefits agreement. For example, in Florida, homeowners have at least 14 days to back out of an agreement without any penalties.
Once the grace period passes, there isn't much recourse. For example, a vendor might file a lawsuit long after the period passes where you can rescind the agreement. In that case, the assignment of benefits agreement stands.
An AOB agreement can make it easy for you to receive insurance benefits without dealing with the claims department at your insurance company. But not all agreements look the same, so read carefully before signing. In some cases, like healthcare, the agreement could work well for all parties. But in other cases, such as home repairs, it might be benefitting the vendor more than the policyholder. If you're unsure about what an assignment of benefits agreement means for you, consider talking to a professional. Your insurer should be able to explain what's allowed in your situation, and external experts, like an attorney, might help you make a more informed decision.
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Assignment of benefits
An agreement that gives your claims benefits to someone else.
What is an assignment of benefits?
An assignment of benefits (or AOB for short) is an agreement that gives your claims benefits, and in some instances complete control of your claim, to someone else. It’s usually used so that a contractor can "stand in your shoes" and file a claim, make decisions about repairs, and collect insurance payments from your insurance company directly for covered repairs. In some states, the contractor will even file a lawsuit against your insurer as your assignee.
Why do homeowners agree to an assignment of benefits?
Homeowners may sign an assignment of benefits form because they think it’s more convenient and efficient than dealing with the claims process firsthand.
Once a contractor has been assigned your benefits, they tell the insurance company what work they believe is required and negotiate the claim. For example, say you have a water leak in the house. You call a home restoration company to stop the water flow, clean up the mess, and restore your home to its former glory. The restoration company may ask for an assignment of benefits so it can deal directly with the insurance company without your input. That may sound like a relief at first glance – someone else can deal with all that!
But signing away your rights in the claims process may not be worth the risk.
Assignment of benefits in Florida: a case of rampant fraud
Because the assignment of benefits takes control out of the homeowner’s hands, insurance fraud is a major concern. Some contractors may take advantage of the situation and inflate repair needs and costs or bill for work that was never completed. They may also hire attorneys to sue the insurance company if it does not pay the full amount of their estimate or denies claims.
These lawsuits became a huge problem in Florida – by 2018, there were 135,000 AOB lawsuits , a 70 percent increase in 15 years. On the whole, the FBI estimates fraudulent claims account for nearly $6 billion of the $80 billion appropriated for post-hurricane reconstruction.
Florida eventually passed a bill in 2019 to curb the abuse of assignment of benefits.
Ultimately, AOB fraud hurts homeowners the most. It increases homeowners insurance rates across the board, and you may be stuck with incomplete work and no recourse.
That’s why we offer a Responsible Repair discount for homeowners who retain their rights during a claim. It’s about a 5 percent discount on average to reward you for proactively protecting yourself and preventing fraud.
What responsibilities does the AOB contractor have?
Once you sign an AOB, a contractor has full power to make all decisions about the claim without consulting you. The assignment of benefits gives contractors the ability to:
- File the insurance claim .
- Work directly with insurance claims adjusters.
- Make repair decisions.
- Complete repairs.
- Directly bill the insurance carrier for all work completed.
- Sue your insurance company regarding your claim.
Sometimes the assignment of benefits limits the scope to the work the contractor was hired for. For example, say your home has a leaky pipe. You may hire a plumber to fix the leak, a remediation company to dry the walls and carpet, and a general contractor to replace the bathroom cabinets. Each of the three contractors may have a respective assignment of benefits for their part of the job.
How assignment of benefits impacts homeowners
Under some circumstances, an assignment of benefits agreement could work out for homeowners who don’t want to handle their insurance claim. If the contractor is reputable, performs the work, and knows what information the insurance company needs, it can be a big help.
- The claims adjuster will work directly with the contractor.
- The contractor would handle remediation and repairs.
- The contractor would bill the insurance company, not the homeowner.
AOB arrangements only work for covered damage in need of repair. If you must replace belongings or appliances, you’d still need to work directly with your insurer and payments would go to you.
Protecting yourself in an assignment of benefits agreement
Don’t sign an assignment of benefits agreement right off the bat. Before you hire any contractor:
- Get multiple quotes.
- Check references, licenses, and their insurance.
- Get written estimates for potential work.
- Get a guarantee to back the workmanship.
- Make sure you get to approve completed work.
- Request copies of all paperwork sent to your insurance company.
- Require that the contractor show you the documents you are actually signing.
You might be tempted to hire the first contractor you find, but you save yourself headaches if you do some due diligence before signing an assignment of benefits. Great contractors use this to expedite repairs and spare you some work. Take a beat to find that great contractor .
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- Construction Accidents
Assignment of benefits: what you need to know.
- August 17, 2022
- Steven Schwartzapfel
Insurance can be useful, but dealing with the back-and-forth between insurance companies and contractors, medical specialists, and others can be a time-consuming and ultimately unpleasant experience. You want your medical bills to be paid without having to act as a middleman between your healthcare provider and your insurer.
However, there’s a way you can streamline this process. With an assignment of benefits, you can designate your healthcare provider or any other insurance payout recipient as the go-to party for insurance claims. While this can be convenient, there are certain risks to keep in mind as well.
Below, we’ll explore what an assignment of insurance benefits is (as well as other forms of remediation), how it works, and when you should employ it. For more information, or to learn whether you may have a claim against an insurer, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers now at 1-516-342-2200 .
What Is an Assignment of Benefits?
An assignment of benefits (AOB) is a legal process through which an insured individual or party signs paperwork that designates another party like a contractor, company, or healthcare provider as their insurance claimant .
Suppose you’re injured in a car accident and need to file a claim with your health insurance company for medical bills and related costs. However, you also need plenty of time to recover. The thought of constantly negotiating between your insurance company, your healthcare provider, and anyone else seems draining and unwelcome.
With an assignment of benefits, you can designate your healthcare provider as your insurance claimant. Then, your healthcare provider can request insurance payouts from your healthcare insurance provider directly.
Through this system, the health insurance provider directly pays your physician or hospital rather than paying you. This means you don’t have to pay your healthcare provider. It’s a streamlined, straightforward way to make sure insurance money gets where it needs to go. It also saves you time and prevents you from having to think about insurance payments unless absolutely necessary.
What Does an Assignment of Benefits Mean?
An AOB means that you designate another party as your insurance claimant. In the above example, that’s your healthcare provider, which could be a physician, hospital, or other organization.
With the assignment of insurance coverage, that healthcare provider can then make a claim for insurance payments directly to your insurance company. The insurance company then pays your healthcare provider directly, and you’re removed as the middleman.
As a bonus, this system sometimes cuts down on your overall costs by eliminating certain service fees. Since there’s only one transaction — the transaction between your healthcare provider and your health insurer — there’s only one set of service fees to contend with. You don’t have to deal with two sets of service fees from first receiving money from your insurance provider, then sending that money to your healthcare provider.
Ultimately, the point of an assignment of benefits is to make things easier for you, your insurer, and anyone else involved in the process.
What Types of Insurance Qualify for an Assignment of Benefits?
Most types of commonly held insurance can work with an assignment of benefits. These insurance types include car insurance, healthcare insurance, homeowners insurance, property insurance, and more.
Note that not all insurance companies allow you to use an assignment of benefits. For an assignment of benefits to work, the potential insurance claimant and the insurance company in question must each sign the paperwork and agree to the arrangement. This prevents fraud (to some extent) and ensures that every party goes into the arrangement with clear expectations.
If your insurance company does not accept assignments of benefits, you’ll have to take care of insurance payments the traditional way. There are many reasons why an insurance company may not accept an assignment of benefits.
To speak with a Schwartzapfel Lawyers expert about this directly, call 1-516-342-2200 for a free consultation today. It will be our privilege to assist you with all your legal questions, needs, and recovery efforts.
Who Uses Assignments of Benefits?
Many providers, services, and contractors use assignments of benefits. It’s often in their interests to accept an assignment of benefits since they can get paid for their work more quickly and make critical decisions without having to consult the insurance policyholder first.
Imagine a circumstance in which a homeowner wants a contractor to add a new room to their property. The contractor knows that the scale of the project could increase or shrink depending on the specifics of the job, the weather, and other factors.
If the homeowner uses an assignment of benefits to give the contractor rights to make insurance claims for the project, that contractor can then:
- Bill the insurer directly for their work. This is beneficial since it ensures that the contractor’s employees get paid promptly and they can purchase the supplies they need.
- Make important decisions to ensure that the project completes on time. For example, a contract can authorize another insurance claim for extra supplies without consulting with the homeowner beforehand, saving time and potentially money in the process.
Practically any company or organization that receives payments from insurance companies may choose to take advantage of an assignment of benefits with you. Example companies and providers include:
- Ambulance services
- Drug and biological companies
- Lab diagnostic services
- Hospitals and medical centers like clinics
- Certified medical professionals such as nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, clinical psychologists, and others
- Ambulatory surgical center services
- Permanent repair and improvement contractors like carpenters, plumbers, roofers, restoration companies, and others
- Auto repair shops and mechanic organizations
Advantages of Using an Assignment of Benefits
An assignment of benefits can be an advantageous contract to employ, especially if you believe that you’ll need to pay a contractor, healthcare provider, and/or other organization via insurance payouts regularly for the near future.
These benefits include but are not limited to:
- Save time for yourself. Again, imagine a circumstance in which you are hospitalized and have to pay your healthcare provider through your health insurance payouts. If you use an assignment of benefits, you don’t have to make the payments personally or oversee the insurance payouts. Instead, you can focus on resting and recovering.
- Possibly save yourself money in the long run. As noted above, an assignment of benefits can help you circumvent some service fees by limiting the number of transactions or money transfers required to ensure everyone is paid on time.
- Increased peace of mind. Many people don’t like having to constantly think about insurance payouts, contacting their insurance company, or negotiating between insurers and contractors/providers. With an assignment of benefits, you can let your insurance company and a contractor or provider work things out between them, though this can lead to applications later down the road.
Because of these benefits, many recovering individuals, car accident victims, homeowners, and others utilize AOB agreements from time to time.
Risks of Using an Assignment of Benefits
Worth mentioning, too, is that an assignment of benefits does carry certain risks you should be aware of before presenting this contract to your insurance company or a contractor or provider. Remember, an assignment of benefits is a legally binding contract unless it is otherwise dissolved (which is technically possible).
The risks of using an assignment of benefits include:
- You give billing control to your healthcare provider, contractor, or another party. This allows them to bill your insurance company for charges that you might not find necessary. For example, a home improvement contractor might bill a homeowner’s insurance company for an unnecessary material or improvement. The homeowner only finds out after the fact and after all the money has been paid, resulting in a higher premium for their insurance policy or more fees than they expected.
- You allow a contractor or service provider to sue your insurance company if the insurer does not want to pay for a certain service or bill. This can happen if the insurance company and contractor or service provider disagree on one or another billable item. Then, you may be dragged into litigation or arbitration you did not agree to in the first place.
- You may lose track of what your insurance company pays for various services . As such, you could be surprised if your health insurance or other insurance premiums and deductibles increase suddenly.
Given these disadvantages, it’s still wise to keep track of insurance payments even if you choose to use an assignment of benefits. For example, you might request that your insurance company keep you up to date on all billable items a contractor or service provider charges for the duration of your treatment or project.
For more on this and related topic, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers now at 1-516-342-2200 .
How To Make Sure an Assignment of Benefits Is Safe
Even though AOBs do carry potential disadvantages, there are ways to make sure that your chosen contract is safe and legally airtight. First, it’s generally a wise idea to contact knowledgeable legal representatives so they can look over your paperwork and ensure that any given assignment of benefits doesn’t contain any loopholes that could be exploited by a service provider or contractor.
The right lawyer can also make sure that an assignment of benefits is legally binding for your insurance provider. To make sure an assignment of benefits is safe, you should perform the following steps:
- Always check for reviews and references before hiring a contractor or service provider, especially if you plan to use an AOB ahead of time. For example, you should stay away if a contractor has a reputation for abusing insurance claims.
- Always get several estimates for work, repairs, or bills. Then, you can compare the estimated bills and see whether one contractor or service provider is likely to be honest about their charges.
- Get all estimates, payment schedules, and project schedules in writing so you can refer back to them later on.
- Don’t let a service provider or contractor pressure you into hiring them for any reason . If they seem overly excited about getting started, they could be trying to rush things along or get you to sign an AOB so that they can start issuing charges to your insurance company.
- Read your assignment of benefits contract fully. Make sure that there aren’t any legal loopholes that a contractor or service provider can take advantage of. An experienced lawyer can help you draft and sign a beneficial AOB contract.
Can You Sue a Party for Abusing an Assignment of Benefits?
Sometimes. If you believe your assignment of benefits is being abused by a contractor or service provider, you may be able to sue them for breaching your contract or even AOB fraud. However, successfully suing for insurance fraud of any kind is often difficult.
Also, you should remember that a contractor or service provider can sue your insurance company if the insurance carrier decides not to pay them. For example, if your insurer decides that a service provider is engaging in billing scams and no longer wishes to make payouts, this could put you in legal hot water.
If you’re not sure whether you have grounds for a lawsuit, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-516-342-2200 . At no charge, we’ll examine the details of your case and provide you with a consultation. Don’t wait. Call now!
Assignment of Benefits FAQs
Which states allow assignments of benefits.
Every state allows you to offer an assignment of benefits to a contractor and/or insurance company. That means, whether you live in New York, Florida, Arizona, California, or some other state, you can rest assured that AOBs are viable tools to streamline the insurance payout process.
Can You Revoke an Assignment of Benefits?
Yes. There may come a time when you need to revoke an assignment of benefits. This may be because you no longer want the provider or contractor to have control over your insurance claims, or because you want to switch providers/contractors.
To revoke an assignment of benefits agreement, you must notify the assignee (i.e., the new insurance claimant). A legally solid assignment of benefits contract should also include terms and rules for this decision. Once more, it’s usually a wise idea to have an experienced lawyer look over an assignment of benefits contract to make sure you don’t miss these by accident.
Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers Today
An assignment of benefits is an invaluable tool when you need to streamline the insurance claims process. For example, you can designate your healthcare provider as your primary claimant with an assignment of benefits, allowing them to charge your insurance company directly for healthcare costs.
However, there are also risks associated with an assignment of benefits. If you believe a contractor or healthcare provider is charging your insurance company unfairly, you may need legal representatives. Schwartzapfel Lawyers can help.
As knowledgeable New York attorneys who are well-versed in New York insurance law, we’re ready to assist with any and all litigation needs. For a free case evaluation and consultation, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-516-342-2200 !
Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. | Fighting For You™™
What Is an Insurance Claim? | Experian
What is assignment of benefits, and how does it impact insurers? | Insurance Business Mag
Florida Insurance Ruling Sets Precedent for Assignment of Benefits | Law.com
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What is Assignment of Benefits in Medical Billing
The health care industry has a wide network of health care insurance payers that make payments on behalf of patients having insurance plans. Without insurance plans, many patients would not be able to seek medical services. Whenever a patient visits a doctor for the treatment he/she needs to ensure that the insurance payer makes the payment for all the medical benefits he/she may have received. This is where the assignment of benefits comes in.
Definition of Assignment of Benefits
The term assignment of benefits (AOB) may be referred to as an agreement that transfers the health insurance claims benefits of the policy from the patient to the health care provider. This agreement is signed by the patient as a request to pay the designated amount to the health care provider for the health benefits he/she may have received. On the patient’s request the insurance payer makes the payment to the hospital/doctor.
Understanding of Assignment of Benefits
The assignment of benefits is generally transferred by designing a legal document— for which, the format may vary across medical offices. This document is called the ‘Assignment of Benefits’ form. While signing the form, the patient also authorizes the insurance company to release any and all written information that is required by the hospital for reimbursement purposes. This also means that any medical billing and collection company hired by the hospital is free to use the released information for billing purposes. In addition to this, the patient agrees to appoint anyone from the hospital as a representative on his/her behalf to seek payment from the insurance payer. In other words, once the document has been signed, the patient is no longer required to deal directly with the insurance company or its representative, unless asked to do so.
It is important to note that the assignment of benefits occurs only when a claim has been successfully processed with the insurance company/payer. However, the insurance company may not always honor and accept the request for AOB. The acceptance or rejection of AOB depends on the patient’s or member’s health benefits contract and/or the State Law. Therefore all three parties— patient, health care provider, and the insurance company must stay updated with the State Law and also, review the patient’s health benefit plan thoroughly. This will help in saving time and unnecessary paperwork if the chances of the insurance company rejecting the AOB seem to be high.
Following are some providers or medical services that use AOB:
- Ambulance services.
- Ambulatory surgical center services.
- Clinical diagnostic laboratory services.
- Biological(s) and drugs.
- Home dialysis equipment and supplies.
- Physician services for patients having Medicare and Medicaid plans.
- Services of medical professionals other than a primary physician, including certified registered nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.
- Simplified billing roster for vaccines, such as— influenza virus and pneumococcal.
AOB plays an important role in medical billing by establishing direct contact with the patient’s health care insurance payer. The purpose is to increase the chances of reimbursement and accelerate the process without contacting the patient additionally..
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What Is an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) and How Does it Affect You?
- The Professional Law Group
- March 22, 2022
- Assignment of Benefits
As a homeowner, you likely have a homeowners’ insurance policy. This policy typically covers damages to your house from weather, water damage, smoke, fire, theft, vandalism, and other unexpected events.
When the unexpected happens and you have to make a claim on your policy, you may find the claim process complicated to navigate. This is especially true in emergency situations when you need to act quickly to protect your home or business property and belongings.
You may encounter the term “assignment of benefits” as you contact vendors and sort through payment options.
What does “assignment of benefits” mean for you, the vendors employed, and your coverage?
Assignment of Benefits – A Shortcut of Sorts
“Assignment of benefits” (AOB) is a legal document with which you can assign some or all of the benefits under your policy to another party. An AOB gives the other party the right to deal directly with the insurance company and the right to enforce its right to payment – even by filing a lawsuit against the insurer.
When unexpected damage and a claim occurs, some contractors – such as restoration companies, mold testers and remediators, plumbers, movers, and roofers – will accept an assignment of benefits instead of insisting upon cash payment up front. After receiving an AOB, the contractor will bill the insurer directly for the work being done.
What is the advantage of this? Why not do it yourself? Let’s go back to the emergency damage situation.
AOB for Emergency Repairs
When damage occurs and a claim is made, property owners have an obligation under the insurance policy to comply with “post-loss obligations.” Not complying with these obligations could give the insurer a reason to deny the claim and not pay. One of the post-loss obligations is to mitigate damages. This means that the insured has an obligation to conduct basic clean up and prevent the damage from getting worse.
We hope this doesn’t happen, but let’s say a small house fire took down one wall of your master bedroom. Now your master bedroom is exposed to the elements. And the water that was used to put out the fire could cause mold and other damage.
After the property damage occurs, property owners usually need a restoration company to clean up the damage and stabilize and protect the property.
If this happened to you, you could pay the restoration company out of pocket for the company’s work. Then you would take a few weeks to collect paperwork, file a claim, then wait and hope for your insurance company’s approval and reimbursement.
Unfortunately, most people don’t have quick access to the thousands of dollars necessary to pay these bills. And if they do, they don’t want to pay without knowing that they will be reimbursed by the insurer.
In the meantime, wind, water, and sun will very likely cause more damage to your house and possessions if you wait. Also, if you wait, you could violate the post-loss obligations under your policy and risk not receiving coverage at all.
This is where AOB comes in handy. You can find a contractor who will accept an assignment of benefits from you. That means they will do the cleanup and repair your wall right away with the understanding that they will deal with your insurance company directly at invoice time. If the insurance company doesn’t want to reimburse for the cost, the contractor will deal with the insurer, not you.
It sounds convenient… but is there a downside?
Sometimes an AOB does carry certain restrictions.
For instance, a 2019 Florida law placed a cap on how much insurance companies can pay contractors for emergency services paid through an AOB. That can make dealing with certain emergency situations tricky. Non-emergency services are not capped, but the contractor must know how to properly document its work and how and when to submit the proper documentation.
You may also need to check that an assignment of benefits is an option in your policy at all. Sometimes, insurance policies don’t permit the AOB route. Instead, they might require you to pay for services out-of-pocket and be repaid after the fact.
For some homeowners, this can create real financial hardship, especially for sudden and exorbitant house repairs. If a policy prohibits assignments of benefits, the policy must say so in clear, large print. Though these policies may sell for a discount of a few dollars, we would argue that this small savings is not worth the risk of losing the options the AOB can give you.
You’ll need to read your policy carefully to determine if this is the case for you. Though it may feel like a headache, it’s better to know than to find yourself stuck with a surprise expense. You may need to save more than expected for potential house damages. Or you may want to work on changing your policy – or a combination of both strategies.
Insurance companies have engaged in campaigns claiming that some contractors are using AOBs to do unnecessary work or over-charge insurers for the work they do. Insurers say these people are costing the insurance companies too much money.
While it is never appropriate to engage in unscrupulous activity, blaming AOBs for the behavior of a few bad actors is not fair. Moreover, it deprives property owners of a valuable option when dealing with a property insurance claim, which can be difficult and stressful.
Like a computer or a hammer, an assignment of benefits is a tool. In most people’s hands, they are used for good, while in a few they are used to commit bad deeds. The person might be bad, but the computer or the hammer is neutral. The same is true of assignments of benefits.
Have a claim and need to hire a contractor who will work in exchange for an assignment of benefits? We recommend understanding the work that the contractor will do, how much it will cost, how much of your claim is being assigned to the contractor, and if the contractor is familiar with Florida Statute 627.7152, Florida’s assignment of benefits law.
If you need assistance understanding your coverage, AOBs, or assistance dealing with a new, delayed, under-paid, or denied insurance claim, we’re here to help .
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What is an Assignment of Benefits?
- By Chris Deleon
- Company News
At Lighthouse, our number one goal is making sure you and your family are protected, and that means knowing your rights. Learn what an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) is and how to protect yourself from AOB abuse.
An Assignment of Benefits (AOB) is a document or contract that allows a third party, other than the policyholder, to recover costs from a claim. It essentially transfers the rights to the contractor to be able to bill the insurance company. This action eliminates what would be a back-and-forth process between a policyholder and their insurance company. You might be familiar with this concept because doctors’ offices use the same document to bill health insurance companies.
Assignment of Benefit Abuse
Unfortunately, there is a rise in AOB abuse. When there is a loss associated with property, a contractor is called to perform an estimate and repair the damages. After the AOB document is signed, the contractor should contact the insurance company with the estimate, have an adjuster examine the property, and then make any necessary repairs. However, contractors looking to exploit the system can provide overstated estimates to the insurance company and start “repairing” the home before an adjuster can properly examine the property. Insurance companies end up paying exponentially more than what would have been required to make the repairs. This leaves the policyholder paying more out of pocket, increasing every policyholders’ premium, and possibly leaving incomplete repairs to the home.
How to Prevent AOB Fraud
Do research before hiring any contractor. The most frequent AOB abusers are roofers and water extraction companies. Insurance providers will have a list of qualified, licensed professionals to choose from. If you choose to hire a contractor not on the insurance company’s provided list, read the contract completely. If you don’t understand it, don’t sign it. Before hiring anyone, ask if they have an AOB clause and liability coverage.
No matter the damage, always contact your insurance company immediately, and follow their claims process .