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What is Assignment of Benefits in Medical Billing?

doctor sitting at his desk on his laptop

An assignment of benefits is the act of signing documentation authorizing a health insurance company to pay a physician directly. In other words, the insurance company can pay claims without the direct involvement of the patient in the process. There are other situations where AOBs can be helpful, but we’ll focus on their use in relation to medical benefits.

If there isn’t an assignment of benefits agreement in place, the patient would be responsible for paying the other party directly from their own pocket, then filing a claim with their insurance provider to receive reimbursement. This could be time-consuming and costly, especially if the patient has no idea how to file a claim.

The document is typically signed by patients when they undergo medical procedures. The purpose of this form is to assign the responsibility of payment for any future medical bills that may arise after the procedure. It’s important to note that not all procedures require an AOB.

An assignment of benefits agreement might be utilized to pay a medical practitioner the patient didn’t choose, like an anesthesiologist. The patient may have picked a surgeon, but an anesthesiologist assigned on the day of the procedure might issue a separate bill. They’re, in essence, signing that anyone involved in their treatment can receive direct payment from the insurance carrier. It doesn’t have to go through the patient.

This document can also eliminate service fees surrounding processing. As a result, the patient can focus on medical treatment and recovery without being bogged down with the complexities of paying medical bills. The overall intent of an assignment of benefits agreement is to make the process more manageable for the patient, as they don’t need to haggle directly with their insurer.

List of Providers and Services

When the patient signs an AOB agreement, they give a third party right to obtain payment for services the provider performed, and medical billing services are a prime example of where they may sign an AOB agreement.

  • Ambulance services
  • Medical insurance claims
  • Drugs and pharmaceuticals
  • Diagnostic and clinical lab services
  • Emergency surgical center services
  • Dialysis supplies and equipment used in the home
  • Physician services for Medicare and Medicaid patients

Services of professionals other than a primary care physician, which includes:

  • Physician assistants
  • Clinical nurse specialists
  • Clinical social workers
  • Clinical psychologists
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetists

doctor at desk filling out forms on clipboard

Information Commonly Requested on Assignment of Benefits Form:

  • Signature of patient or person legally responsible
  • Signature of parent or legal guardian

How AOBs Affect the Medical Practitioner

A medical provider or their administrative staff may feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of forms patients must fill out prior to treatment. Demanding more paperwork from patients may be seen as an added burden on the managerial staff, as well as the patient. However, getting a signed AOB is vital in preserving the interests of everyone involved.

In addition to receiving direct payment from the insurance company without needing to go through the patient, a signed assignment of benefits form will help medical providers appeal denied and underpaid claims. They can ask that payments be made directly to them rather than through the patient. This makes the process more manageable for both the doctors and the patient.

Things to Bear in Mind

The patient gives their rights and benefits to third parties under their current health plan. Depending on the wording in the AOB, their insurer may not be allowed to contact them directly about their claims. In addition, the patient may be unable to negotiate settlements or approve payments on their behalf and enable third parties to endorse checks on behalf of the patient. Finally, when the patient signs an AOB, the insurer may sue the third parties involved in the dispute.

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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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Assignment of Benefits: What It Is, and How It Can Affect your Property Insurance Claim

what's the meaning of assignment of benefits

Table of Contents

What is an Assignment of Benefits?

In the context of insured property claims, an assignment of benefits (AOB) is an agreement between you and a contractor in which you give the contractor your right to insurance payments for a specific scope of work .  In exchange, the contractor agrees that it will not seek payment from you for that scope of work, except for the amount of any applicable deductible.  In other words, you give part of your insurance claim to your contractor, and your contractor agrees not to collect from you for part of its work.

The most important thing to know about an assignment of benefits is that it puts your contractor in control your claim , at least for their scope of work.  Losing that control can significantly affect the direction and outcome of your claim, so you should fully understand the implications of an AOB (sometimes called an assignment of claims or AOC) before signing one.

How Does an Assignment of Benefits Work in Practice? 

Let’s say you’re an insured homeowner, and Hurricane Ian significantly damaged your roof.  Let’s also assume your homeowner’s policy covers that damage.  A roofer, after inspecting your roof and reviewing your insurance policy, might conclude that your insurer is probably going to pay for a roof replacement under your insurance policy.  The only problem is that it’s early in the recovery process, and your insurer hasn’t yet stated whether it will pay for the roof replacement proposed by your contractor. So if you want your roof replaced now, you would ordinarily agree to pay your roofer for the replacement, and wait in hopes that your insurer reimburses you for the work.  This means that if your insurance company refuses to pay or drags out payment, you’re on the hook to your roofer for the cost of the replacement.

As an alternative to agreeing to pay your roofer for the full cost of the work, you could sign an assignment of benefits for the roof replacement.  In this scenario, your roofer owns the part of your insurance claim that pertains to the roof replacement.  You might have to pay your roofer for the amount of your deductible, but you probably don’t have to pay them for the rest of the cost of the work.  And if your insurance company refuses to pay or drags out payment for the roof replacement, it’s your roofer, and not you, who would be on the hook for that shortfall.

So should you sign an AOB?  Not necessarily.  Read below to understand the pros and cons of an assignment of benefits.

Are There any Downsides to Signing an Assignment of Benefits?

Yes.  

You lose control of your claim . This is the most important factor to understand when considering whether to sign an AOB.  An AOB is a formal assignment of your legal rights to payment under your insurance contract.  Unless you’re able to cancel the AOB, your contractor will have full control over your claim as it relates to their work. 

To explain why that control could matter, let’s go back to the roof replacement example.  When you signed the AOB, the scope of work you agreed on was to replace the roof.  But you’re not a roofing expert, so you don’t know whether the costs charged or the materials used by the roofer in its statement of work are industry appropriate or not.  In most cases, they probably are appropriate, and there’s no problem.  But if they’re not – if, for instance, the roofer’s prices are unreasonably high – then the insurer may not approve coverage for the replacement.  At that point, the roofer could lower its prices so the insurer approves the work, but it doesn’t have to, because it controls the claim .  Instead it could hold up work and threaten to sue your insurer unless it approves the work at the originally proposed price.  Now the entire project is insnared in litigation, leaving you in a tough spot with your insurer for your other claims and, most importantly, with an old leaky roof.

Misunderstanding the Scope of Work.   Another issue that can arise is that you don’t understand the scope of the assignment of benefits.  Contractor estimates and scopes of work are often highly technical documents that can be long on detail but short on clarity.  Contractors are experts at reading and writing them.  You are not.  That difference matters because the extent of your assignment of benefits is based on that technical, difficult-to-understand scope of work.  This can lead to situations where your understanding of what you’re authorizing the contractor to do is very different from what you’ve actually authorized in the AOB agreement.

In many cases, it’s not necessary .   Many contractors will work with you and your insurer to provide a detailed estimate of their work, and will not begin that work until your insurer has approved coverage for it.  This arrangement significantly reduces the risk of you being on the hook for uninsured repairs, without creating any of the potential problems that can occur when you give away your rights to your claim.

Do I have to sign an Assignment of Benefits?

No.  You are absolutely not required to sign an AOB if you do not want to. 

Are There any Benefits to Signing an Assignment of Benefits?

Potentially, but only if you’ve fully vetted your contractor and your claim involves complicated and technical construction issues that you don’t want to deal with. 

First, you must do your homework to fully vet your contractor!  Do not just take their word for it or be duped by slick ads.  Read reviews, understand their certificate of insurance, know where they’re located, and, if possible, ask for and talk to references.  If you’ve determined that the contractor is highly competent at the work they do, is fully insured, and has a good reputation with customers, then that reduces the risk that they’ll abuse their rights to your claim.

Second, if your claim involves complicated reconstruction issues, a reputable contractor may be well equipped to handle the claim and move it forward.  If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of handling a complicated claim like this, and you know you have a good contractor, one way to get rid of that hassle is an AOB.

Another way to get rid of the hassle is to try Claimly, the all-in-one claims handling tool that get you results but keeps you in control of your claim.  

Can my insurance policy restrict the use of AOBs?

Yes, it’s possible that your Florida insurance policy restricts the use of AOBs, but only if all of the following criteria are met:

  • When you selected your coverage, your insurer offered you a different policy with the same coverage, only it did not restrict the right to sign an AOB.
  • Your insurer made the restricted policy available at a lower cost than the unrestricted policy.
  • If the policy completely prohibits AOBs, then it was made available at a lower cost than any policy partially prohibiting AOBs.
  • The policy includes on its face the following notice in 18-point uppercase and boldfaced type:

THIS POLICY DOES NOT ALLOW THE UNRESTRICTED ASSIGNMENT OF POST-LOSS INSURANCE BENEFITS. BY SELECTING THIS POLICY, YOU WAIVE YOUR RIGHT TO FREELY ASSIGN OR TRANSFER THE POST-LOSS PROPERTY INSURANCE BENEFITS AVAILABLE UNDER THIS POLICY TO A THIRD PARTY OR TO OTHERWISE FREELY ENTER INTO AN ASSIGNMENT AGREEMENT AS THE TERM IS DEFINED IN SECTION 627.7153 OF THE FLORIDA STATUTES.

627.7153. 

Pro Tip : If you have an electronic copy of your complete insurance policy (not just the declaration page), then search for “policy does not allow the unrestricted assignment” or another phrase from the required language above to see if your policy restricts an AOB.  If your policy doesn’t contain this required language, it probably doesn’t restrict AOBs.

Do I have any rights or protections concerning Assignments of Benefits?

Yes, you do.  Florida recently enacted laws that protect consumers when dealing with an AOB.

Protections in the AOB Contract

To be enforceable, a Assignments of Benefits must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Be in writing and executed by and between you and the contractor.
  • Contain a provision that allows you to cancel the assignment agreement without a penalty or fee by submitting a written notice of cancellation signed by the you to the assignee:
  • at least 30 days after the date work on the property is scheduled to commence if the assignee has not substantially performed, or
  • at least 30 days after the execution of the agreement if the agreement does not contain a commencement date and the assignee has not begun substantial work on the property.
  • Contain a provision requiring the assignee to provide a copy of the executed assignment agreement to the insurer within 3 business days after the date on which the assignment agreement is executed or the date on which work begins, whichever is earlier.
  • Contain a written, itemized, per-unit cost estimate of the services to be performed by the assignee .
  • Relate only to work to be performed by the assignee for services to protect, repair, restore, or replace a dwelling or structure or to mitigate against further damage to such property.
  • Contain the following notice in 18-point uppercase and boldfaced type:

YOU ARE AGREEING TO GIVE UP CERTAIN RIGHTS YOU HAVE UNDER YOUR INSURANCE POLICY TO A THIRD PARTY, WHICH MAY RESULT IN LITIGATION AGAINST YOUR INSURER. PLEASE READ AND UNDERSTAND THIS DOCUMENT BEFORE SIGNING IT. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO CANCEL THIS AGREEMENT WITHOUT PENALTY WITHIN 14 DAYS AFTER THE DATE THIS AGREEMENT IS EXECUTED, AT LEAST 30 DAYS AFTER THE DATE WORK ON THE PROPERTY IS SCHEDULED TO COMMENCE IF THE ASSIGNEE HAS NOT SUBSTANTIALLY PERFORMED, OR AT LEAST 30 DAYS AFTER THE EXECUTION OF THE AGREEMENT IF THE AGREEMENT DOES NOT CONTAIN A COMMENCEMENT DATE AND THE ASSIGNEE HAS NOT BEGUN SUBSTANTIAL WORK ON THE PROPERTY. HOWEVER, YOU ARE OBLIGATED FOR PAYMENT OF ANY CONTRACTED WORK PERFORMED BEFORE THE AGREEMENT IS RESCINDED. THIS AGREEMENT DOES NOT CHANGE YOUR OBLIGATION TO PERFORM THE DUTIES REQUIRED UNDER YOUR PROPERTY INSURANCE POLICY.

  • Contain a provision requiring the assignee to indemnify and hold harmless the assignor from all liabilities, damages, losses, and costs, including, but not limited to, attorney fees.

Contractor Duties

Under Florida law, a contractor (or anyone else) receiving rights to a claim under an AOB:

  • Must provide you with accurate and up-to-date revised estimates of the scope of work to be performed as supplemental or additional repairs are required.
  • Must perform the work in accordance with accepted industry standards.
  • May not seek payment from you exceeding the applicable deductible under the policy unless asked the contractor to perform additional work at the your own expense.
  • Must, as a condition precedent to filing suit under the policy, and, if required by the insurer, submit to examinations under oath and recorded statements conducted by the insurer or the insurer’s representative that are reasonably necessary, based on the scope of the work and the complexity of the claim, which examinations and recorded statements must be limited to matters related to the services provided, the cost of the services, and the assignment agreement.
  • Must, as a condition precedent to filing suit under the policy, and, if required by the insurer, participate in appraisal or other alternative dispute resolution methods in accordance with the terms of the policy.
  • If the contractor is making emergency repairs, the assignment of benefits cannot exceed the greater of $3,000 or 1% of your Coverage A limit.

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What is an assignment of benefits?

Three people in an office talking over a pile of papers.

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.

The takeaway  

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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Medicare Assignment: Everything You Need to Know

Medicare assignment.

  • Providers Accepting Assignment
  • Providers Who Do Not
  • Billing Options
  • Assignment of Benefits
  • How to Choose

Frequently Asked Questions

Medicare assignment is an agreement between Medicare and medical providers (doctors, hospitals, medical equipment suppliers, etc.) in which the provider agrees to accept Medicare’s fee schedule as payment in full when Medicare patients are treated.

This article will explain how Medicare assignment works, and what you need to know in order to ensure that you won’t receive unexpected bills.

fizkes / Getty Images

There are 35 million Americans who have Original Medicare. Medicare is a federal program and most medical providers throughout the country accept assignment with Medicare. As a result, these enrollees have a lot more options for medical providers than most of the rest of the population.

They can see any provider who accepts assignment, anywhere in the country. They can be assured that they will only have to pay their expected Medicare cost-sharing (deductible and coinsurance, some or all of which may be paid by a Medigap plan , Medicaid, or supplemental coverage provided by an employer or former employer).

It’s important to note here that the rules are different for the 29 million Americans who have Medicare Advantage plans. These beneficiaries cannot simply use any medical provider who accepts Medicare assignment.

Instead, each Medicare Advantage plan has its own network of providers —much like the health insurance plans that many Americans are accustomed to obtaining from employers or purchasing in the exchange/marketplace .

A provider who accepts assignment with Medicare may or may not be in-network with some or all of the Medicare Advantage plans that offer coverage in a given area. Some Medicare Advantage plans— health maintenance organizations (HMOs) , in particular—will only cover an enrollee’s claims if they use providers who are in the plan's network.

Other Medicare Advantage plans— preferred provider organizations (PPOs) , in particular—will cover out-of-network care but the enrollee will pay more than they would have paid had they seen an in-network provider.

Original Medicare

The bottom line is that Medicare assignment only determines provider accessibility and costs for people who have Original Medicare. People with Medicare Advantage need to understand their own plan’s provider network and coverage rules.

When discussing Medicare assignment and access to providers in this article, keep in mind that it is referring to people who have Original Medicare.

How to Make Sure Your Provider Accepts Assignment

Most doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers in the United States do accept Medicare assignment.

Provider Participation Stats

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 98% of providers participate in Medicare, which means they accept assignment.

You can ask the provider directly about their participation with Medicare. But Medicare also has a tool that you can use to find participating doctors, hospitals, home health care services, and other providers.

There’s a filter on that tool labeled “Medicare-approved payment.” If you turn on that filter, you will only see providers who accept Medicare assignment. Under each provider’s information, it will say “Charges the Medicare-approved amount (so you pay less out-of-pocket).”

What If Your Provider Doesn’t Accept Assignment?

If your medical provider or equipment supplier doesn’t accept assignment, it means they haven’t agreed to accept Medicare’s approved amounts as payment in full for all of the services.

These providers can still choose to accept assignment on a case-by-case basis. But because they haven’t agreed to accept Medicare assignment for all services, they are considered nonparticipating providers.

Note that "nonparticipating" does not mean that a provider has opted out of Medicare altogether. Medicare will still pay claims for services received from a nonparticipating provider (i.e., one who does not accept Medicare assignment), whereas Medicare does not cover any of the cost of services obtained from a provider who has officially opted out of Medicare.

If a Medicare beneficiary uses a provider who has opted out of Medicare, that person will pay the provider directly and Medicare will not be involved in any way.

Physicians Who Have Opted Out

Only about 1% of all non-pediatric physicians have opted out of Medicare.

For providers who have not opted out of Medicare but who also don’t accept assignment, Medicare will still pay nearly as much as it would have paid if you had used a provider who accepts assignment. Here’s how it works:

  • Medicare will pay the provider 95% of the amount they would pay if the provider accepted assignment.
  • The provider can charge the person receiving care more than the Medicare-approved amount, but only up to 15% more (some states limit this further). This extra amount, which the patient has to pay out-of-pocket, is known as the limiting charge . But the 15% cap does not apply to medical equipment suppliers; if they do not accept assignment with Medicare, there is no limit on how much they can charge the person receiving care. This is why it’s particularly important to make sure that the supplier accepts Medicare assignment if you need medical equipment.
  • The nonparticipating provider may require the person receiving care to pay the entire bill up front and seek reimbursement from Medicare (using Form CMS 1490-S ). Alternatively, they may submit a claim to Medicare on behalf of the person receiving care (using Form CMS-1500 ).
  • A nonparticipating provider can choose to accept assignment on a case-by-case basis. They can indicate this on Form CMS-1500 in box 27. The vast majority of nonparticipating providers who bill Medicare choose to accept assignment for the claim being billed.
  • Nonparticipating providers do not have to bill your Medigap plan on your behalf.

Billing Options for Providers Who Accept Medicare

When a medical provider accepts assignment with Medicare, part of the agreement is that they will submit bills to Medicare on behalf of the person receiving care. So if you only see providers who accept assignment, you will never need to submit your own bills to Medicare for reimbursement.

If you have a Medigap plan that supplements your Original Medicare coverage, you should present the Medigap coverage information to the provider at the time of service. Medicare will forward the claim information to your Medigap insurer, reducing administrative work on your part.

Depending on the Medigap plan you have, the services that you receive, and the amount you’ve already spent in out-of-pocket costs, the Medigap plan may pay some or all of the out-of-pocket costs that you would otherwise have after Medicare pays its share.

(Note that if you have a type of Medigap plan called Medicare SELECT, you will have to stay within the plan’s network of providers in order to receive benefits. But this is not the case with other Medigap plans.)

After the claim is processed, you’ll be able to see details in your MyMedicare.gov account . Medicare will also send you a Medicare Summary Notice. This is Medicare’s version of an explanation of benefits (EOB) , which is sent out every three months.

If you have a Medigap plan, it should also send you an EOB or something similar, explaining the claim and whether the policy paid any part of it.

What Is Medicare Assignment of Benefits?

For Medicare beneficiaries, assignment of benefits means that the person receiving care agrees to allow a nonparticipating provider to bill Medicare directly (as opposed to having the person receiving care pay the bill up front and seek reimbursement from Medicare). Assignment of benefits is authorized by the person receiving care in Box 13 of Form CMS-1500 .

If the person receiving care refuses to assign benefits, Medicare can only reimburse the person receiving care instead of paying the nonparticipating provider directly.

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Provider

If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, you have a wide range of options in terms of the providers you can use—far more than most other Americans. In most cases, your preferred doctor and other medical providers will accept assignment with Medicare, keeping your out-of-pocket costs lower than they would otherwise be, and reducing administrative hassle.

There may be circumstances, however, when the best option is a nonparticipating provider or even a provider who has opted out of Medicare altogether. If you choose one of these options, be sure you discuss the details with the provider before proceeding with the treatment.

You’ll want to understand how much is going to be billed and whether the provider will bill Medicare on your behalf if you agree to assign benefits (note that this is not possible if the provider has opted out of Medicare).

If you have supplemental coverage, you’ll also want to check with that plan to see whether it will still pick up some of the cost and, if so, how much you should expect to pay out of your own pocket.

A medical provider who accepts Medicare assignment is considered a participating provider. These providers have agreed to accept Medicare’s fee schedule as payment in full for services they provide to Medicare beneficiaries. Most doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers do accept Medicare assignment.

Nonparticipating providers are those who have not signed an agreement with Medicare to accept Medicare’s rates as payment in full. However, they can agree to accept assignment on a case-by-case basis, as long as they haven’t opted out of Medicare altogether. If they do not accept assignment, they can bill the patient up to 15% more than the Medicare-approved rate.

Providers who opt out of Medicare cannot bill Medicare and Medicare will not pay them or reimburse beneficiaries for their services. But there is no limit on how much they can bill for their services.

A Word From Verywell

It’s in your best interest to choose a provider who accepts Medicare assignment. This will keep your costs as low as possible, streamline the billing and claims process, and ensure that your Medigap plan picks up its share of the costs.

If you feel like you need help navigating the provider options or seeking care from a provider who doesn’t accept assignment, the Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) in your state may be able to help.

A doctor who does not accept Medicare assignment has not agreed to accept Medicare’s fee schedule as payment in full for their services. These doctors are considered nonparticipating with Medicare and can bill Medicare beneficiaries up to 15% more than the Medicare-approved amount.

They also have the option to accept assignment (i.e., accept Medicare’s rate as payment in full) on a case-by-case basis.

There are certain circumstances in which a provider is required by law to accept assignment. This includes situations in which the person receiving care has both Medicare and Medicaid. And it also applies to certain medical services, including lab tests, ambulance services, and drugs that are covered under Medicare Part B (as opposed to Part D).

In 2021, 98% of American physicians had participation agreements with Medicare, leaving only about 2% who did not accept assignment (either as a nonparticipating provider, or a provider who had opted out of Medicare altogether).

Accepting assignment is something that the medical provider does, whereas assignment of benefits is something that the patient (the Medicare beneficiary) does. To accept assignment means that the medical provider has agreed to accept Medicare’s approved fee as payment in full for services they provide.

Assignment of benefits means that the person receiving care agrees to allow a medical provider to bill Medicare directly, as opposed to having the person receiving care pay the provider and then seek reimbursement from Medicare.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicare monthly enrollment .

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Annual Medicare participation announcement .

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Lower costs with assignment .

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Find providers who have opted out of Medicare .

Kaiser Family Foundation. How many physicians have opted-out of the Medicare program ?

Center for Medicare Advocacy. Durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS) updates .

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Check the status of a claim .

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicare claims processing manual. Chapter 26 - completing and processing form CMS-1500 data set .

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Ambulance fee schedule .

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Prescription drugs (outpatient) .

By Louise Norris Louise Norris has been a licensed health insurance agent since 2003 after graduating magna cum laude from Colorado State with a BS in psychology.

Assignment Of Benefits

What does assignment of benefits mean.

Assignment of benefits (AOB) is the official way an insured person asks their insurance company to pay a professional or facility for services rendered.

Insuranceopedia Explains Assignment Of Benefits

Assignment of benefits is a document that directs payment to a third party at the insured’s request. It becomes legitimate once both the insured party and their insurer have signed the AOB form. AOB is used in a number of insurance contexts, such as paying physicians or clinics through health insurance or paying contractors for repairs through a homeowner’s insurance policy.

Usually, AOBs are issued when the third party pursues it in the hopes that payment from the insurance company will be more certain and delivered more quickly than it would be from the insured.

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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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Assignment of Benefits for Contractors: Pros & Cons of Accepting an AOB

what's the meaning of assignment of benefits

22 articles

Insurance , Restoration , Slow Payment

An illustrated assignment of benefits form in front of a damaged house

When a property owner files an insurance claim to cover a restoration or roofing project, the owner typically deals directly with the insurance company. They may not have the funds available to pay the contractor out of pocket, so they’re counting on that insurance check to cover the construction costs.

But insurance companies often drag their feet, and payments can take even longer than normal. Contractors often wish they could simply deal with the insurance company directly through an assignment of benefits. In some circumstances, an AOB can be an effective tool that helps contractors collect payment faster — but is it worth it?

In this article, we’ll explain what an assignment of benefits is, and how the process works. More importantly, we’ll look at the pros and cons for restoration and roofing contractors to help you decide if an AOB is worth it . 

What is an assignment of benefits? 

An assignment of benefits , or AOB, is an agreement to transfer insurance claim rights to a third party. It gives the assignee authority to file and negotiate a claim directly with the insurance company, without involvement from the property owner. 

An AOB also allows the insurer to pay the contractor directly instead of funneling funds through the customer. AOBs take the homeowner out of the claims equation.

Here’s an example: A property owner’s roof is damaged in a hurricane. The owner contacts a restoration company to repair the damage, and signs an AOB to transfer their insurance rights to the contractor. The contractor, now the assignee, negotiates the claim directly with the insurance company. The insurer will pay the claim by issuing a check for the repairs directly to the restoration contractor. 

Setting up an AOB

A property owner and contractor can set up an assignment of benefits in two steps: 

  • The owner and the contractor sign an AOB agreement
  • The contractor sends the AOB to the insurance company

Keep in mind that many states have their own laws about what the agreement can or should include .

For example, Florida’s assignment of benefits law contains relatively strict requirements when it comes to an assignment of benefits: 

  • The AOB agreements need to be in writing. The agreement must contain a bolded disclosure notifying the customer that they are relinquishing certain rights under the homeowners policy. You can’t charge administrative fees or penalties if a homeowner decides to cancel the AOB. 
  • The AOB must include an itemized, per-unit breakdown of the work you plan to do. The services can only involve how you plan to make repairs or restore the home’s damage or protect the property from any further harm. A copy must be provided to the insurance company. 
  • A homeowner can rescind an AOB agreement within 14 days of signing, or within 30 days if no work has begun and no start date was listed for the work. If a start date is listed, the 30-day rule still applies if substantial progress has not been made on the job. 

Before signing an AOB agreement, make sure you understand the property owner’s insurance policy, and whether the project is likely to be covered.

Learn more: Navigating an insurance claim on a restoration project

Pros & cons for contractors

It’s smart to do a cost-benefit analysis on the practice of accepting AOBs. Listing pros and cons can help you make a logical assessment before deciding either way. 

Pro: Hiring a public adjuster

An insurance carrier’s claims adjuster will inspect property damage and arrive at a dollar figure calculated to cover the cost of repairs. Often, you might feel this adjuster may have overlooked some details that should factor into the estimate. 

If you encounter pushback from the insurer under these circumstances, a licensed, public adjuster may be warranted. These appraisers work for the homeowner, whose best interests you now represent as a result of the AOB. A public adjuster could help win the battle to complete the repairs properly. 

Pro: More control over payment

You may sink a considerable amount of time into preparing an estimate for a customer. You may even get green-lighted to order materials and get started. Once the ball starts rolling, you wouldn’t want a customer to back out on the deal. 

Klark Brown , Co-founder of The Alliance of Independent Restorers, concedes this might be one of the very situations in which an AOB construction agreement might help a contractor. “An AOB helps make sure the homeowner doesn’t take the insurance money and run,” says Brown.  

Klark Brown

Pro: Build a better relationship with the homeowner

A homeowner suffers a substantial loss and it’s easy to understand why push and pull with an insurance company might be the last thing they want to undertake. They may desire to have another party act on their behalf. 

As an AOB recipient, the claims ball is now in your court. By taking some of the weight off a customer’s shoulders during a difficult period, it could help build good faith and further the relationship you strive to build with that client. 

Learn more : 8 Ways for Contractors to Build Trust With a Homeowner

Con: It confuses payment responsibilities

Even if you accept an AOB, the property owner still generally bears responsibility for making payment. If the insurance company is dragging their feet, a restoration contractor can still likely file a mechanics lien on the property .

A homeowner may think that by signing away their right to an insurance claim, they are also signing away their responsibility to pay for the restoration work. This typically isn’t true, and this expectation could set you up for a more contentious dispute down the line if there is a problem with the insurance claim. 

Con: Tighter margins

Insurance companies will want repairs made at the lowest cost possible. Just like you, carriers run a business and need to cut costs while boosting revenue. 

While some restoration contractors work directly with insurers and could get a steady stream of work from them, Brown emphasizes that you may be sacrificing your own margins. “Expect to accept work for less money than you’d charge independently,” he adds. 

The takeaway here suggests that any contractor accepting an AOB could subject themselves to the same bare-boned profit margins. 

Con: More administrative work

Among others, creating additional administrative busywork is another reason Brown recommends that you steer clear of accepting AOBs. You’re committing additional resources while agreeing to work for less money. 

“Administrative costs are a burden,” Brown states. Insurers may reduce and/or delay payments to help their own bottom lines. “Insurers will play the float with reserves and claims funds,” he added. So, AOBs can be detrimental to your business if you’re spending more while chasing payments. 

Con: Increase in average collection period

Every contractor should use some financial metrics to help gauge the health of the business . The average collection period for receivables measures the average time it takes you to get paid on your open accounts. 

Insurance companies aren’t known for paying claims quickly. If you do restoration work without accepting an AOB, you can often take action with the homeowner to get paid faster. When you’re depending on an insurance company to make your payment, rather than the owner, collection times will likely increase.

The literal and figurative bottom line is: If accepting assignment of benefits agreements increases the time it takes to get paid and costs you more in operational expense, these are both situations you want to avoid. 

Learn more: How to calculate your collection effectiveness 

AOBs and mechanics liens

A mechanics lien is hands down a contractor’s most effective tool to ensure they get paid for their work. Many types of restoration services are protected under lien laws in most states. But what happens to lien rights when a contractor accepts an assignment of benefits? 

An AOB generally won’t affect a contractor’s ability to file a mechanics lien on the property if they don’t receive payment. The homeowner is typically still responsible to pay for the improvements. This is especially true if the contract involves work that wasn’t covered by the insurance policy. 

However, make sure you know the laws in the state where your project is located. For example, Florida’s assignment of benefits law, perhaps the most restrictive in the country, appears to prohibit an AOB assignee from filing a lien. 

Florida AOB agreements are required to include language that waives the contractor’s rights to collect payment from the owner. The required statement takes it even further, stating that neither the contractor or any of their subs can file a mechanics lien on the owner’s property. 

On his website , Florida’s CFO says: “The third-party assignee and its subcontractors may not collect, or attempt to collect money from you, maintain any action of law against you, file a lien against your property or report you to a credit reporting agency.”

That sounds like a contractor assignee can’t file a lien if they aren’t paid . But, according to construction lawyer Alex Benarroche , it’s not so cut-and-dry.

Alex Benarroche

“Florida’s AOB law has yet to be tested in court, and it’s possible that the no-lien provision would be invalid,” says Benarroche. “This is because Florida also prohibits no-lien clauses in a contract. It is not legal for a contractor to waive their right to file a lien via an agreement prior to performance.” 

Learn more about no-lien clauses and their enforceability state-by-state

Remember that every state treats AOBs differently, and conflicting laws can create additional risk. It’s important to consult with a construction lawyer in the project’s state before accepting an assignment of benefits. 

Best practices for contractors 

At the end of the day, there are advantages and disadvantages to accepting an assignment of benefits. While it’s possible in some circumstances that an AOB could help a contractor get paid faster, there are lots of other payment tools that are more effective and require less administrative costs. An AOB should never be the first option on the table . 

If you do decide to become an assignee to the property owner’s claim benefits, make sure you do your homework beforehand and adopt some best practices to effectively manage the assignment of benefits process. You’ll need to keep on top of the administrative details involved in drafting AOBs and schedule work in a timely manner to stay in compliance with the conditions of the agreement. 

Make sure you understand all the nuances of how insurance works when there’s a claim . You need to understand the owner’s policy and what it covers. Home insurance policy forms are basically standardized for easy comparisons in each state, so what you see with one company is what you get with all carriers. 

Since you’re now the point of contact for the insurance company, expect more phone calls and emails from both clients and the insurer . You’ll need to have a strategy to efficiently handle ramped-up communications since the frequency will increase. Keep homeowners and claims reps in the loop so you can build customer relationships and hopefully get paid faster by the insurer for your work.

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What Is the Assignment of Insurance Benefits?

An assignment of insurance benefits shares the ownership interest of an insurance policy with another party.

An assignment of insurance benefits shares the ownership interest of an insurance policy with another party.

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  •   1. What Is a Life Insurance Assignment?
  •   2. Absolute Assignment of Life Insurance Policies
  •   3. What Is the Collateral Assignment of a Life Insurance Policy?

Assigning insurance benefits is a legal procedure that gives another party permission to receive payments or benefits directly from your insurance company rather than you receiving the benefits yourself. Depending on the arrangement, you may be able to terminate the assignment at will, or be required to keep the arrangement in place until you meet certain conditions.

Health Insurance

When you require medical care, it's important to have health insurance in place to protect your financial well-being. If your health care provider does not have a direct contract with your insurance company, it may require you to fill out an assignment of benefits form allowing it to bill the insurance company directly for your medical treatments. You remain responsible for any deductibles and co-pays, however, and are ultimately responsible for any medical bills.

Income Loan

Whole life insurance policies with accumulating cash values can act as supplementary retirement income planning investments. When you wish to access the cash value in your policy, you can assign your policy to a bank in exchange for a loan. Typically the bank lends you up to a specified percentage of the policy's cash value, and it becomes the primary beneficiary of the death benefit up to and including the outstanding balance of the loan at your death. The advantage of such an arrangement is that the bank loan is not treated as taxable income, unlike a policy withdrawal, and you repay the bank loan with the tax-free death benefit.

Collateral Loan

If you are self-employed and wish to secure a loan for your business, you may be required by your lenders to purchase life insurance as an additional guarantee. Once the insurance is purchased you complete a assignment of benefits, sharing ownership control with the bank. You must pay the insurance premiums and cannot make any decisions affecting the policy without the written consent of the lender. If and when you pay off your business loan, the assignment is terminated and you regain full control of the policy.

Charitable Contribution

Life insurance can be purchased as a means to finance a charitable gift at death. There are several ways to set this up, one of which involves assigning the benefits to the charity immediately after purchase. The assignment is typically irrevocable, as this requires the charity's consent to make any changes to the policy. The advantage of such an assignment is that your premiums are tax-deductible as a charitable contribution. Upon your death, the charity receives the death benefit directly, without the money passing through your estate.

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Philippe Lanctot started writing for business trade publications in 1990. He has contributed copy for the "Canadian Insurance Journal" and has been the co-author of text for life insurance company marketing guides. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the University of Montreal with a minor in English.

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Lighthouse Insurance

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 .

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What is an Assignment of Benefits Agreement?

  • August 18, 2019

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Q:     I recently had water leak into my home and the dry out company wanted me to sign a document assigning my insurance benefits to it.  I declined but can you explain what an assignment of benefits agreement is?

R.S., Vero Beach

A:     When a person assigns property insurance benefits to a company, they are allowing the company to “step into the shoes” of the policy holder/homeowner.  This allows the company to negotiate the amount of the insurance claim and even sue the insurance company. Typically, the assignment of benefits contract allows the company to retain all the insurance proceeds as payment for its services. This type of agreement over the years has created a cottage industry for lawyers and contractors to sue insurance companies. However, after several attempts by the legislature to reign in this problem, a law was passed as of July 1, 2019.

Florida Statute 627.7152 and 627.7152 now requires an assignment of benefits contract to provide that it may be cancelled by the assignor within 14 days of execution; at least 30 days after the date work is to commence pursuant to the agreement if work has not been substantially performed by assignee/contractor; or at least 30 days after execution of agreement if the agreement contains no start date and substantial work has not been performed. It also requires pre-suit negotiation between assignee/contractor and insurer and provides for prevailing party attorney fees for both parties in any litigation. The assignee/contractor must also keep and provide detail records supporting cost of work/claim. Requires insurer to inspect property after demand is made or waive its right to attorney fees. Allows insurer to provide a policy that does not allow assignment of benefits if the insurer also offers a policy that does allows assignment of benefits. The restricted policy must provide same the coverage at a lower cost than the unrestricted policy. It is expected that the use of assignment of benefits contracts will become much less common.

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Richard D. DeBoest, II, Esq. is co-founder and shareholder of the Law firm Goede, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC .  T o ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to: [email protected] .  The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC or any of our attorneys.  Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein.  The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.

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What is Medicare assignment and how does it work?

Kimberly Lankford,

​Because Medicare decides how much to pay providers for covered services, if the provider agrees to the Medicare-approved amount, even if it is less than they usually charge, they’re accepting assignment.

A doctor who accepts assignment agrees to charge you no more than the amount Medicare has approved for that service. By comparison, a doctor who participates in Medicare but doesn’t accept assignment can potentially charge you up to 15 percent more than the Medicare-approved amount.

That’s why it’s important to ask if a provider accepts assignment before you receive care, even if they accept Medicare patients. If a doctor doesn’t accept assignment, you will pay more for that physician’s services compared with one who does.

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How much do I pay if my doctor accepts assignment?

If your doctor accepts assignment, you will usually pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for the service, called coinsurance, after you’ve paid the annual deductible. Because Medicare Part B covers doctor and outpatient services, your $240 deductible for Part B in 2024 applies before most coverage begins.

All providers who accept assignment must submit claims directly to Medicare, which pays 80 percent of the approved cost for the service and will bill you the remaining 20 percent. You can get some preventive services and screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies , without paying a deductible or coinsurance if the provider accepts assignment. 

What if my doctor doesn’t accept assignment?

A doctor who takes Medicare but doesn’t accept assignment can still treat Medicare patients but won’t always accept the Medicare-approved amount as payment in full.

This means they can charge you up to a maximum of 15 percent more than Medicare pays for the service you receive, called “balance billing.” In this case, you’re responsible for the additional charge, plus the regular 20 percent coinsurance, as your share of the cost.

How to cover the extra cost? If you have a Medicare supplement policy , better known as Medigap, it may cover the extra 15 percent, called Medicare Part B excess charges.

All Medigap policies cover Part B’s 20 percent coinsurance in full or in part. The F and G policies cover the 15 percent excess charges from doctors who don’t accept assignment, but Plan F is no longer available to new enrollees, only those eligible for Medicare before Jan. 1, 2020, even if they haven’t enrolled in Medicare yet. However, anyone who is enrolled in original Medicare can apply for Plan G.

Remember that Medigap policies only cover excess charges for doctors who accept Medicare but don’t accept assignment, and they won’t cover costs for doctors who opt out of Medicare entirely.

Good to know. A few states limit the amount of excess fees a doctor can charge Medicare patients. For example, Massachusetts and Ohio prohibit balance billing, requiring doctors who accept Medicare to take the Medicare-approved amount. New York limits excess charges to 5 percent over the Medicare-approved amount for most services, rather than 15 percent.

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How do I find doctors who accept assignment?

Before you start working with a new doctor, ask whether he or she accepts assignment. About 98 percent of providers billing Medicare are participating providers, which means they accept assignment on all Medicare claims, according to KFF.

You can get help finding doctors and other providers in your area who accept assignment by zip code using Medicare’s Physician Compare tool .

Those who accept assignment have this note under the name: “Charges the Medicare-approved amount (so you pay less out of pocket).” However, not all doctors who accept assignment are accepting new Medicare patients.

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What does it mean if a doctor opts out of Medicare?

Doctors who opt out of Medicare can’t bill Medicare for services you receive. They also aren’t bound by Medicare’s limitations on charges.

In this case, you enter into a private contract with the provider and agree to pay the full bill. Be aware that neither Medicare nor your Medigap plan will reimburse you for these charges.

In 2023, only 1 percent of physicians who aren’t pediatricians opted out of the Medicare program, according to KFF. The percentage is larger for some specialties — 7.7 percent of psychiatrists and 4.2 percent of plastic and reconstructive surgeons have opted out of Medicare.

Keep in mind

These rules apply to original Medicare. Other factors determine costs if you choose to get coverage through a private Medicare Advantage plan . Most Medicare Advantage plans have provider networks, and they may charge more or not cover services from out-of-network providers.

Before choosing a Medicare Advantage plan, find out whether your chosen doctor or provider is covered and identify how much you’ll pay. You can use the Medicare Plan Finder to compare the Medicare Advantage plans and their out-of-pocket costs in your area.

Return to Medicare Q&A main page

Kimberly Lankford is a contributing writer who covers Medicare and personal finance. She wrote about insurance, Medicare, retirement and taxes for more than 20 years at  Kiplinger’s Personal Finance  and has written for  The Washington Post  and  Boston Globe . She received the personal finance Best in Business award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and the New York State Society of CPAs’ excellence in financial journalism award for her guide to Medicare.

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Handling Assignment of Benefit (“AOB”) Claims in the Wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey

Overview | Blog Posts | First-Party Coverage | Timothy Engelbrecht , T. Nicholas Goanos , L. Andrew Watson | Related | Print | Share

Timothy Engelbrecht

Partner | First-Party Coverage , Extra-Contractual 813-281-1900 [email protected]

T. Nicholas Goanos

Partner | Extra-Contractual , Arson & Fraud , Casualty Defense Litigation , Third-Party Coverage , First-Party Coverage 704-940-9811  [email protected]

L. Andrew Watson

Partner | First-Party Coverage , Extra-Contractual , Casualty Defense Litigation , Arson & Fraud , Third-Party Coverage 704-543-2321 [email protected]

September 12, 2017

Hurricanes Irma and Harvey have damaged large areas of Florida, Texas, and Louisiana, as well as brought heavy rain and wind to Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. As insurers handle thousands of property damage claims in these areas, they will undoubtedly be presented with claims that have been assigned from insureds to damage-repair contractors. These are often referred to as assignments of benefits or “AOB” claims. This article explains briefly what an AOB claim is, how Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina address AOB claims, and the best practices for handling AOB claims.

WHAT IS AN AOB CLAIM?

The classic example of an AOB claim is the following: an insured suffers property damage and hires a repair contractor to repair that damage. The repair contractor requires the insured to execute a written document, usually entitled “Assignment of Insurance Benefits”, which says something to the effect of “for and in consideration of the contractor’s agreement to protect the property from further damage and/or make repairs, the insured assigns his/her/its insurance benefits to the contractor.” The contractor thereafter makes a claim directly to the insurer using the AOB.

HOW DOES FLORIDA, TEXAS, LOUISIANA, GEORGIA, NORTH CAROLINA, AND SOUTH CAROLINA ADDRESS AOB CLAIMS?

Florida  has allowed AOB claims for over 100 years. Sec. First Ins. Co. v. State, Office of Ins. Regulation , 177 So. 3d 627, 628 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015). Post-loss property damage claims are freely assignable in Florida regardless of whether the insurer consents or not.   Start to Finish Restoration, LLC v. Homeowners Choice Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. , 192 So. 3d 1275, 1276 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016). An insurance policy that has a “non-assignment” clause only bars the assignment of the entire insurance policy, not an assignment of a post-loss insurance claim. Bioscience West, Inc. v. Gulfstream Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. , 185 So. 3d 638, 640-41 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016). 

Texas  has adopted the opposite approach to AOBs. The general rule in Texas is that an insured cannot assign an insurance claim if the insurance policy has a non-assignment clause. ARM Props. Mgmt. Group v. RSUI Indem . Co., 642 F.Supp.2d 592, 609-10 (W.D. Tex. 2009) relying on  Tex. Farmers Ins. Co. v. Gerdes , 880 S.W. 2d 215, 218 (Tex. App. 1994). This is true even if the non-assignment clause is general and broadly worded.

Louisiana  takes a hybrid approach to AOBs. Louisiana allows an insurer to place a clause in an insurance policy that prohibits post-loss assignments.   In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig ., 63 So. 3d 955, 962-63 (La. 2011). However, in order for such a clause to be enforceable, the clause must clearly and unambiguously express that it applies to post-loss assignments.   Id . The general and a broadly worded non-assignment clause that has traditionally appeared in most insurance policies is not sufficient. Id. 

Georgia , much like many of the States above and across the Country, permits AOBs.  See Santiago v. Safeway Ins. Co. , 196 Ga. App. 480, 481, 396 S.E.2d 506, 608 (App. Ct. 1990). Unlike North Carolina and South Carolina, which are discussed below, an assignee in Georgia may pursue his own extra-contractual claim only after first establishing a breach of the insurance policy.  Southern Gen. Ins. Co. v. Holt , 262 Ga. 267, 416 S.E.2d 274, 276-77 (1992). Further, before pursuing an extra-contractual claim, an assignee (or insured) in Georgia must provide the insurer an opportunity to “cure” the alleged “bad faith”. See  Ga. Code Ann. § 33-4-6.

Lastly,  North Carolina  and  South Carolina  also allow AOBs. In upholding the validity of an assignment, courts in these States have ruled not only that assignments of benefits are indeed valid, but also, that they are governed by each State’s general contract law. See e.g., Alaimo Family Chiropractic v. Allstate Ins. Co. , 155 N.C. App. 194, 197, 574 S.E.2d 496, 498 (App. Ct. 2002);  Gray v. State Farm Auto. Ins. Co. , 327 S.C. 646, 491 S.E.2d 272 (App. Ct. 1997). The “rubber” meets the proverbial “road”, though, when an extra-contractual claim is alleged. In North Carolina and South Carolina, a plaintiff may assert an extra-contractual claim, even if the insurer has not breached the insurance policy. See  Tadlock Painting Co. v. Maryland Cas. Co. , 322 S.C. 498, 473 S.E.2d 52 (1996);  Kielbania v. Indian Harbor Ins. Co., 2012 WL 3957926 (M.D.N.C. 2012). However, an assignee is limited in the sense that it may pursue only his own extra-contractual claim, and not the assignors.  Horton v. New S. Ins. Co. , 122 N.C. App. 265, 268, 468 S.E.2d 856, 858 (1996);  Davis v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. , 2015 WL 6163243, at *4 (D.S.C. 2015).

WHAT ARE THE BEST PRACTICES FOR HANDLING AN AOB CLAIM?

First, as noted above, an adjuster needs to know if the state law where the AOB claim is being made allows for AOB claims. 

Second, assuming the state allows for AOB claims, the adjuster needs to carefully read what the actual AOB document says. They are not all the same. Some AOBs assign the entire claim. Other AOBs only assign part of the claim. For example, imagine an insured’s property is damaged by water. The insured needs the water extracted and the structure rebuilt. An AOB might assign both the water extraction and the rebuild claim to a single contractor. Or, the insured might execute one AOB to a water extraction contractor and a separate AOB to a different rebuild contractor. Or, an insured might execute an AOB to a water extraction contractor and the insured will retain the remaining rights to make the rebuild claim. If the AOB is unclear what – exactly – is being assigned, it is important for the adjuster to speak with the insured and the contractor to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Third, the adjuster should speak to the insured to gather information necessary to understand and adjust the assigned claim. In Florida, an adjuster likely cannot require a contractor to perform the insurance policy’s post-loss conditions of giving documents, executing a sworn statement in proof of loss, or appearing for an examination under oath. Shaw v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co.,  37 So. 3d 329, 332-33 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010) disapproved on other grounds in  Nunez v. Geico Gen. Ins. Co. , 117 So. 3d 388 (Fla. 2013). However, the insured is still responsible for fulfilling those conditions even with regard to the assigned claim. Id. The insured’s failure to do so may bar the assigned claim. Id. 

Fourth, assuming payment will be made on the assigned claim, the adjuster should determine who will be listed on the settlement check. If there is a valid AOB, it may be improper to list the insured on the settlement check since the insured’s rights have been assigned to the contractor. Many AOBs will state that only the contractor be listed on the settlement check. However, it is good for an adjuster to confirm with the insured that the insured understands that he/she/it will not be listed on the settlement check. It is also important for the adjuster to correctly determine if a mortgagee needs to be listed on the settlement check. Situations vary depending on the nature of the work that the contractor is doing (damage prevention versus repair) and whether the work has been completed or is still to be done. The adjuster should discuss the situation with the insured, the contractor, and the mortgagee if the adjuster is at all unsure if the mortgagee needs to be on the settlement check.

Fifth, an adjuster should know whether an assigned claim can be resolved using the insurance policy’s appraisal provision. Appraisal can be an inexpensive and expedient way to resolve a claim. In Florida, an insurer usually can require a contractor with an assigned claim to go to appraisal if the insurance policy provides for the mandatory appraisal upon request.  Certified Priority Restoration v. State Farm Florida Ins. Co ., 191 So. 3d 961, 962 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016).

Insurers will continue to be presented with AOB claims in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. We have been helping insurers and adjusters navigate the unique issues associated with AOB claims for many years. Please contact us if you have any questions or need assistance.

For any further questions, please contact Timothy Engelbrecht, T. Nicholas Goanos, or L. Andrew Watson.

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How to spot an AOB homeowner’s insurance scam

Tue Dec 03 2019

For Florida homeowners, a roof leak or other home insurance claim might just be the start of their troubles. Some contractors may take advantage of what’s called an assignment of benefits (AOB) agreement and leave homeowners in the lurch.

Thankfully, Florida passed a bill in 2019 aimed to curb the abuse of assignment of benefits. Then the state passed two additional bills in two different special sessions in 2022. The first removed the ability to get attorney fees for AOB vendors ; the second completely prohibited AOBs .

Louisiana also passed its own bill prohibiting AOBs in 2023 . 

While these bills help protect homeowners, you still need to understand the potential pitfalls of signing over your claim benefits to another party. Let’s look at what AOB abuse is so you don’t get taken for a ride.

What is an assignment of benefits?

An assignment of benefits is an agreement that transfers your insurance claims rights to another party. When you sign an AOB form, you give someone else the authority to:

File an insurance claim.

Make decisions about repairs.

Collect insurance payments.

File a lawsuit against your insurance company regarding your claim.

Homeowners who are dealing with major damage may assign their benefits to the business making the repairs because they believe it has more experience working with an insurance company to settle a claim. They may believe the business can help them better navigate the claims process . 

But in actuality, these vendors are not licensed to assist with the claims process and there is no need for an assignment of benefits.

How can assignment of benefits be abused?

A disreputable business can easily abuse an assignment of benefits. Once you sign this agreement, you give up your rights as the policyholder. This may mean:

Your insurance company will only communicate with the vendor regarding that portion of your claim.

You lose all rights regarding that portion of your claim.

You lose the right to mediate that portion of your claim.

You may have to pay penalties if you don’t comply with the AOB.

The other party can sue your insurance company.

Dishonest contractors take advantage of this situation by padding the bill and hiring an attorney to sue the insurance company when it does not pay the bill in full or denies the claim. 

Some found the system so lucrative that they paid plumbers up to $2,500 for every homeowner who signs an AOB . Lawsuits filed by contractors who have been assigned benefits by their clients were on the rise, according to the Tampa Bay Times – AOB claims in Florida jumped from 405 in 2006 to 28,000 in 2016 .

Florida’s and Louisiana’s legislature actions on AOB lawsuits should help prevent these opportunistic practices. Florida insurance regulators have also taken steps to share information and resources about AOBs and AOB scams .

How assignment of benefits abuse hurts homeowners

Assignment of benefits abuse, like all insurance fraud, can hurt policyholders. The abundance of AOB lawsuits against insurance companies drove up home insurance premiums to offset losses – in fact, this type of litigation is one of the reasons that home insurance costs in Florida have risen considerably in recent years. The hope is that the legislation to reform AOB practices will help bring those costs down over time.

Plus, most AOB agreements allow the contractor to collect their fees from the policyholder if the insurance policy doesn’t cover the damage or the insurance provider won’t pay the full amount demanded. If the AOB vendor tries to collect from you and you can’t pay, they can place a lien on your property for the amount owed.

How homeowners can avoid assignment of benefits abuse

To avoid unscrupulous vendors, watch out for these red flags:

Someone knocks on your door and tells you there is damage you didn’t know about or offers a free inspection to see if there is any damage.

A contractor promises something for nothing or for just the cost of your deductible, such as a free roof or kitchen renovation.

Someone claims the damage is greater than it clearly is.

Repairs begin before your insurance company is notified or allowed to inspect damages.

The form looks unprofessional or has misspellings and poor grammar.

Forms have any blank spaces to be filled in later, after you’ve signed.

You can also avoid an assignment of benefit scam by doing the things you would normally do before signing a contract:

Ask questions. A reputable business owner is willing to answer any question you ask.

Read the forms. Make sure you understand what benefits you’re signing away.

Check your policy documents. AOBs may not be permissible for your policy, so be sure to check before you sign.

Know your rights. You never need an AOB to get your claim processed or the repairs started.

Contact your carrier. Before executing any AOB, repair, or mitigation agreement, check with your insurance carrier or agent to first report the damage and then get their opinion on the validity of the agreement.

It’s not a small thing to sign away the rights to your insurance benefits. Assignment of benefits are only truly needed when you go to your doctor.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2019. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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  1. What is Assignment of Benefits in Medical Billing?

    An assignment of benefits is the act of signing documentation authorizing a health insurance company to pay a physician directly. In other words, the insurance company can pay claims without the direct involvement of the patient in the process.

  2. What is assignment of benefits, and how does it impact insurers?

    Assignment of benefits, widely referred to as AOB, is a contractual agreement signed by a policyholder, which enables a third party to file an insurance claim, make repair decisions, and...

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    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.

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    In the context of insured property claims, an assignment of benefits (AOB) is an agreement between you and a contractor in which you give the contractor your right to insurance payments for a specific scope of work.

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    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....

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    Medicare assignment is an agreement between Medicare and medical providers (doctors, hospitals, medical equipment suppliers, etc.) in which the provider agrees to accept Medicare's fee schedule as payment in full when Medicare patients are treated.

  7. What is Assignment of Benefits (AOB)?

    Assignment of benefits is a document that directs payment to a third party at the insured's request. It becomes legitimate once both the insured party and their insurer have signed the AOB form.

  8. Assignment of benefits

    Assignment of benefits is 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.

  9. All You Need to Know About Assignment of Benefits

    Understanding AOB Some wonder, what is the purpose of an assignment of benefits form? The answer is simple. This form gives the insurance company written authorization to release information that the hospital requires for reimbursement purposes.

  10. Assignment and Nonassignment of Benefits

    Nonassignment of Benefits. The second reimbursement method a physician/supplier has is choosing to not accept assignment of benefits. Under this method, a non-participating provider is the only provider that can file a claim as non-assigned. When the provider does not accept assignment, the Medicare payment will be made directly to the beneficiary.

  11. Assignment of Benefits (AOB)

    GLOSSARY EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS What is an assignment of benefits? An AOB is an agreement that transfers the insurance claims rights or benefits of the policy to a third party. An AOB gives the third party authority to file a claim, make repair decisions, and collect insurance payments without the involvement of the homeowner.

  12. What is an Assignment of Benefits?

    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.

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    Assignment of Benefits is not Authorization to Submit Claims. It is important to note that the beneficiary signature requirements for submission of claims are separate and distinct from assignment of benefits requirements except where the beneficiary died before signing the request for payment for a service furnished by a supplier and the ...

  14. What is Assignment of Benefits in Medical Billing

    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.

  15. Assignment of Benefits for Contractors: Pros & Cons of ...

    An assignment of benefits, or AOB, is an agreement to transfer insurance claim rights to a third party. It gives the assignee authority to file and negotiate a claim directly with the insurance company, without involvement from the property owner.

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    Definition A procedure whereby a beneficiary/patient authorizes the administrator of the program to forward payment for a covered procedure directly to the treating dentist. How to submit claims for assignment of benefits using the ADA claim form This is done using box #37 on the ADA claim form.

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    An assignment of insurance benefits shares the ownership interest of an insurance policy with another party. More Articles 1. What Is a Life Insurance Assignment? 2. Absolute Assignment of...

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    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 ...

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    R.S., Vero Beach. A: When a person assigns property insurance benefits to a company, they are allowing the company to "step into the shoes" of the policy holder/homeowner. This allows the company to negotiate the amount of the insurance claim and even sue the insurance company. Typically, the assignment of benefits contract allows the ...

  20. What Is Medicare Assignment and How Does It Affect You?

    All providers who accept assignment must submit claims directly to Medicare, which pays 80 percent of the approved cost for the service and will bill you the remaining 20 percent. You can get some preventive services and screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, without paying a deductible or coinsurance if the provider accepts assignment.

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    This article explains briefly what an AOB claim is, how Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina address AOB claims, and the best practices for handling AOB claims.

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    Twitter LinkedIn Mail Looking for online definition of assignment of benefits in the Medical Dictionary? assignment of benefits explanation free. What is assignment of benefits? Meaning of assignment of benefits medical term. What does assignment of benefits mean?

  23. How to spot an AOB homeowners insurance scam

    For Florida homeowners, a roof leak or other home insurance claim might just be the start of their troubles. Some contractors may take advantage of what's called an assignment of benefits (AOB) agreement and leave homeowners in the lurch.. Thankfully, Florida passed a bill in 2019 aimed to curb the abuse of assignment of benefits. Then the state passed two additional bills in two different ...