Controversial contract leaves homeowners feeling trapped

An Ocoee man contacted Action 9 desperate for help after a contractor took over his new roof insurance claim. Months later he still didn't have a new roof and his homeowner?s insurance was canceled because his damage wasn't fixed.

An Ocoee man contacted Action 9 desperate for help after a contractor took over his new roof insurance claim. Months later he still didn't have a new roof and his homeowner’s insurance was canceled because his damage wasn't fixed.

Action 9 Consumer investigator Todd Ulrich took action for him.

“We don't want to lose our house,” Dennis Hains said.

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Hains said he felt trapped. His homeowner’s insurance refused to renew his policy because he signed a document with a roofing contractor.

“It's a very short form, very simple and plain,” Hains said.

He signed an Assignment of Benefits form.

According to Hains, Noland’s Roofing said his roof should be replaced so it had him sign its AOB (Assignment of Benefits) to take over the insurance claim. But his insurance company denied the claim and said his roof only needed a minor repair.

Noland’s told Hains the company could still get him a new roof.

“They told me, ‘Don't worry about it our lawyer has never lost a case yet,’” Hains said.

But months later his roof was still not replaced or fixed, so his current insurance company refused to renew his policy.

His mortgage company threatened to charge him for forced insurance with a premium that would be 3 to 5 times higher than his usual cost.

Still, Hains said Noland's would not cancel his AOB contract.

“Having that open claim is killing me,” Hains said.

Assignment of benefits can be controversial.

Insurance experts say be careful because it may not be for you.

“If you sign an AOB, you have no control over the claim or the money whatsoever,” said insurance expert Tom Cotton.

“You could end up in this situation?” Ulrich asked.

“Absolutely,” Cotton replied.

Ulrich contacted Noland's Roofing . A manager said it didn't realize what Hains wanted.

Noland’s Roofing is rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau.

According to Hains, the company canceled the AOB the same week Ulrich contacted the company and Hains was able to get homeowner’s insurance at the same low rate he had before.

If any contractor says an AOB contract is your only choice, get a second or third estimate and keep control of your insurance until you review all your options.