United States: Homeowners Insurance Assignments Of Benefits May Have Finally Met Their Match

Few issues have been so hotly disputed in recent years as the issue of what constitutes a proper "assignment" of homeowners insurance benefits. Historically, the rule of assignment creation in Florida is that any instruction, document, or act that vests in one party the right to receive funds that would be due to another party operates as an assignment.i Recently, assignments of benefits ("AOB") have been accepted by some courts as a valid way for a homeowner to confer homeowners insurance policy benefits to a third party, such as a water remediation company or a roofing company. 

However, on the other hand, homestead protection is a fundamental right that is enshrined in Florida's Constitution. While homestead principles do not typically arise in the insurance context, recent cases in which insurers have applied homestead law to fight AOB lawsuits involving the transfer of homeowners insurance benefits may have a profound effect on homeowners insurance law.

In Florida, a residential property is inherently instilled with homestead protection when a person acquires property and makes it his or her home. No action of the Legislature, declaration, or other act on the owner's part is required to make it the owner's homestead.ii The purpose of the homestead protection is to promote the stability and welfare of the state by securing a householder a home in which the owner and his or her heirs could live beyond the reach of financial misfortune and the demands of creditors.iii Article X, § 4 of Florida's Constitution specifically provides that homestead protection may only be devised by one of three ways: mortgage, sale, or gift.  If the homeowner is married, then the alienation of homestead property requires the joinder of both spouses.

The Florida Supreme Court has held that "a waiver of the homestead exemption in an unsecured agreement is unenforceable."iv In fact, the Florida Supreme Court noted that while an exemption can be waived by mortgage, "for over a hundred years we have held that it cannot be waived in an unsecured agreement."v Further, Florida employs a strong public policy in favor of protecting homestead property, such that "an individual cannot waive a right designed to protect both the individual and the public."vi

In recognizing this strong public policy, it is well-settled in Florida that the homestead protection extends not just to the property itself, but also to insurance proceeds obtained as a result of damage to the property.vii More recently, the Third District in Quiroga v. Citizens Prop. Ins. Co., 34 So. 3d 101 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010) held a homeowner cannot be divested of constitutionally protected insurance proceeds through an unsecured agreement. 

In Quiroga, the issue concerned whether a contingent fee arrangement entered between a homeowner and his attorney was valid where it sought to divest the homeowner of homestead-protected insurance proceeds secured by his attorney.viii In affirming the trial court, the Third District held that because the homeowner "did not, and as a matter of public policy, cannot through an unsecured agreement such as a contingent fee agreement in this case, enter into an enforceable contract to divest himself from the exemptions afforded him through Article X, section 4(a)," the contingency fee agreement was unenforceable.ix

Consequently, homeowners insurers have begun successfully relying on Quiroga to argue that an AOB is invalid to the extent it seeks to divest the homeowners of constitutionally protected insurance proceeds through an unsecured agreement. Specifically, in the matter of One Call Property Services, Inc. a/a/o Carl & June Schlanger v. St. Johns Ins. Co. the Circuit Court of the Nineteenth Judicial District in Martin County, Florida recently granted summary judgment in favor of an insurer based on Quiroga, and expressly held that that the AOB was invalid was it was an unsecured agreement.x

In Schlanger, the Plaintiff, a water remediation company, filed suit against St. Johns Insurance Company for breach of contract.xi  As is typical in these situations, the insureds discovered water damage to their property and called Plaintiff to perform mitigation services. Plaintiff presented the AOB to the insureds for execution, which sought the assignment of all insurance rights, benefits, proceeds, and causes of action to the Plaintiff. The AOB was signed only by Carl Schlanger. The claim was ultimately denied following an inspection by an engineer. Following the claim denial, Plaintiff filed suit against the insurer based on the AOB. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the insurer, finding that the AOB impermissibly sought to divest the homeowners of constitutionally protected proceeds, and therefore, the AOB was invalid.xii The trial court held that this was particularly true where the AOB was not also executed by June Schlanger. Therefore, the trial court found that the AOB was invalid and void as a matter of law, such that the Plaintiff lacked standing to file suit.xiii

Plaintiff appealed the trial court decision, and on December 15, 2015, the Fourth District Court of Appeal will hear oral arguments in this matter. This case is important because it could invalidate AOBs seeking the transfer of homeowners insurance policies, benefits, and proceeds on constitutional grounds. If the Fourth District affirms the trial court, then the effect of this decision may be profound, far-reaching, and potentially applicable in thousands of pending cases throughout South Florida and the rest of the state. 


i McClure v. Century Estates, 120 So. 4 (Fla. 1928). 

ii Osborne v. Dumolin, 55 So. 3d 577 (2011); Hutchinson Shoe Co. v. Turner, 100 Fla. 1120, 130 So. 623, 624 (1930) (citing Baker v. State, 17 Fla. 406, 408–09 (Fla. 1879). 

iii Chames v. DeMayo, 972 So. 2d 850 (Fla. 2007).

iv Chames 972 So. 2d at 853.  

v Id. at 852 (internal citations omitted). 

vi Id. at 860. 

vii Orange Brevard Plumbing & Heating Co. v. La Croix, 137 So. 2d 201, 203-304 (Fla. 1962); Cutler v. Cutler, 994 So. 2d 341, 343 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008).

viii Quiroga v. Citizens Prop. In. Co., 34 So. 3d 101, 102 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010).

ix Id.

x One Call Property Services, Inc. a/a/o Carl & June Schlanger v. St. Johns Ins. Co., 2014 WL 7496474 (2014).

xi Id.

xii Id.

xiii Id.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.