Assignment of Benefits: What You Need to Know

Assignment of Benefits: What You Need to Know

Steven Schwartzapfel -Founding Partner Aug 17, 2022

For more than 35 years, Steven Schwartzapfel, the founding member of Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C., has been one of New York’s most prominent personal injury attorneys. Steve represents clients in all types of personal injury cases. His experience, skill, and dedication have enabled Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. to recover hundreds of millions of dollars for their clients.

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 1-800-966-4999.

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 1-800-966-4999 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
  • And more

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 1-800-966-4999.

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 1-800-966-4999. 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 1-800-966-4999!

Sources:

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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