By Linda Rollinson
Meet the new love of my life. His name is Cowvin and you can see by his picture, he is a full bundle of 7-week old energy. Cowvin was abandoned by his mom when he came into our care and has quickly become one of the family. We’ve got a bit more than two acres for him to roam here in Florida and he’s taken to them well. He loves playing with my granddaughters and is more like a pet puppy than a newborn calf.
I get some time with Cowvin every day and it gives me time to decompress and think things through. When Cowvin was born a mere few weeks ago, the auto glass industry here in Florida was very different. Florida was one of the largest “no deductible” states and generated a lot of auto glass work because of it. Attempts to regulate our industry had been made before, but none were successful until May 26 when Governor DeSantis signed into law a bill “cracking down on windshield repair and replacement lawsuits.” The new law does so by banning the Assignment of Benefits (AOB) from the insured to the glass company and by allowing exceptions to the lack of deductibility. In one pen stroke, the governor executed the largest and widest-reaching change to auto glass industry practices in Florida ever.
The new law marks the end of AOB contracts for auto glass repairs, replacements and recalibrations in the Sunshine State. It also prohibits companies from offering “items of value” to customers for making insurance claims for glass replacements and repairs. Additionally, insurers will be required to offer “actuarially sound discounts” to insureds if they accept the insurer’s offer of a policy with a repair agreement. Glass companies are also required to notify customers when calibrations are necessary as part of the windshield repair and replacement process.
Some companies are in the process of changing the way they do business; other multi-level marketing companies are also considering leaving the state. While I don’t agree with the way the law was put in place, I don’t think it was an entirely bad thing. There are bad actors in every state, and Florida has seemed to attract more of them than elsewhere. Something needed to be done but the outcome could have been better, clearer and more cogent.
The bill was introduced by Senator Linda Stewart in February 2023 as the state’s legislators looked to reel in the number of auto-glass-related lawsuits in Florida. According to the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research, auto glass lawsuits in Florida rose by 4,000% between 2011 and 2021, from 591 to 28,156. We in Florida see questionable practices every day. The auto glass industry need not abandon Senator Stewart like Cowvin’s mother did him. We need to provide information and education so that she and other politicians can make sane, rational and practical decisions—especially on subjects that affect us as deeply as this does. This is not easy to do, but AGSC and its National Windshield Repair Division are as committed to this cause as Cowvin’s care and growth. No bull.
Linda Rollinson in the chair of the executive committee of AGSC’s National Windshield Repair Division and the president of Superior Auto Glass in Florida. She is a member of the board of directors of the Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC).
To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.