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Can You Assign Your Insurance Benefits to Someone Else?
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Most business insurance policies contain a so-called anti-assignment clause. This clause prohibits policyholders from transferring any of their rights under the policy to someone else. This means that the insured business cannot cede its right to collect claim payments to another party. However, laws in most states permit policyholders to transfer their rights to another party under certain circumstances.
In the standard ISO policies , the anti-assignment clause is located in a separate form called the Common Policy Conditions. These conditions apply to all coverages that are included in the policy. For instance, if a policy includes business auto , general liability , and commercial property coverages, the anti-assignment clause applies to all three coverages.
The clause is entitled Transfer of Your Rights and Duties Under This Policy. It includes the following provision:
Your rights and duties under this policy may not be transferred without our written consent except in the case of death of an individual named insured.
The anti-assignment clause prohibits the named insured from transferring any of its rights or obligations under the policy to someone else without the insurer's permission. The only exception is if the named insured is an individual (sole proprietor) and he or she dies. An assignment is permitted in this case because a sole proprietorship and the individual owner are one and the same. If the individual dies, the business cannot survive unless it is sold to someone else.
An anti-assignment clause is intended to prevent the insurer from unwittingly assuming risks it never intended to take on. Commercial insurers review business insurance applicants carefully. Before they issue policies, underwriters consider the knowledge and experience of a company's owners and managerial staff. If a business is sold to someone else, the new owners may not be as skilled or attentive as the previous ones. From the insurer's perspective, the new owners are an unknown risk.
Post-Loss Assignments Permitted
The anti-assignment clause doesn't distinguish between assignments made before a loss and those made afterward. Even so, courts in most states have allowed policyholders to assign their rights to another party after a loss has occurred. Pre-loss assignments are still prohibited. Here is an example of a post-loss assignment of insurance benefits.
Victor operates a restaurant called Vital Vittles out of a building he owns. Late one January night two water pipes in the building freeze. The pipes subsequently burst, causing considerable water damage to Victor's building. Victor is forced to close his restaurant until the repairs are completed.
Victor hires a water damage contractor called Rapid Restoration to repair the damage to his building. He tells the contractor that he needs the repairs done quickly as he is anxious to reopen his restaurant. The contractor says that the repairs can be expedited if Victor signs over his rights under the policy to Rapid Restoration. The contractor will then proceed with the repairs and negotiate a claim settlement with Vital Vittles' commercial property insurer. Victor agrees to the assignment and the contractor begins the repair work.
While Vital Vittles' commercial property policy contains an anti-assignment clause, Victor has assigned his rights to Rapid Restoration after a loss has occurred. Thus, in most states, Victor's insurer cannot reject the assignment (assuming post-loss assignments are permitted in Victor's state).
Problems With Assignments of Benefits
In recent years, assignment of benefits (AOB) agreements have been problematic in some states, particularly Florida. Unscrupulous contractors have preyed on unsuspecting homeowners and business owners who have suffered water damage . Some contractors work alone while others operate in cahoots with crooked lawyers. In either event, the contractor convinces the policyholder to assign his or her rights under the policy over to the contractor. The contractor then exaggerates the cost of the repairs and collects the inflated amount from the insurer. The policyholder is left with a large claim on his or her loss history. When the policy expires, the insurer may refuse to renew it.
In the previous example, Victor has assigned his rights under the policy to Rapid Restoration. Suppose that Rapid Restoration completes only half of the repair work on Victor's building. The actual cost is $15,000 but the contractor submits a bill to the insurer for $30,000. Alternatively, the contractor never submits a bill but sues the insurer for $30,000. In either case, the insurer may refuse to pay on the basis that the contractor has committed insurance fraud. Victor cannot intervene because he has signed his rights over to the contractor. If the contractor is unsuccessful in its lawsuit against the insurer, it may demand payment from Victor's company.
Avoiding Problems With AOBs
As a business owner, you can avoid problems associated with AOBs and unscrupulous contractors by taking the following steps:
- Report any loss or accident directly to your insurer (or your agent or broker ). Notify your insurer immediately. Don't allow a contractor to do the notification on your behalf.
- Take photos of the damage.
- Don't allow any contractor to begin work until an insurance adjuster has documented the damage
- Vet contractors thoroughly before hiring them. Make sure they are properly licensed. If your area has suffered a natural disaster, watch out for construction scams.
- Don't sign an AOB unless you have reviewed it carefully. If you don't understand it, ask your agent, insurer, or attorney for assistance.
- If your contractor won't do any work until you've signed an AOB, find another contractor.
AOBs in Health Insurance
Assignment of benefit agreements are common in health insurance. Patients are often asked to agree to such clauses before they receive treatment from a physician, hospital, or another healthcare provider. The assignment of benefits clause transfers a patient's right to collect benefits under his or her health policy to the provider. By signing the document, the patent agrees that payments will be made directly to the provider for the services rendered. The clause states that the patient is ultimately responsible for the charges if the insurer fails to pay.
Once the treatment has been performed, the provider submits the AOB along with a claim to the patient's health insurer. The insurer pays the provider for services rendered to the patient.
Understanding an assignment and assumption agreement
Need to assign your rights and duties under a contract? Learn more about the basics of an assignment and assumption agreement.
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by Belle Wong, J.D.
Belle Wong, is a freelance writer specializing in small business, personal finance, banking, and tech/SAAS. She ...
Updated on: January 22, 2024 · 3min read
The assignment and assumption agreement
The basics of assignment and assumption, filling in the assignment and assumption agreement.
While every business should try its best to meet its contractual obligations, changes in circumstance can happen that could necessitate transferring your rights and duties under a contract to another party who would be better able to meet those obligations.
If you find yourself in such a situation, and your contract provides for the possibility of assignment, an assignment and assumption agreement can be a good option for preserving your relationship with the party you initially contracted with, while at the same time enabling you to pass on your contractual rights and duties to a third party.
An assignment and assumption agreement is used after a contract is signed, in order to transfer one of the contracting party's rights and obligations to a third party who was not originally a party to the contract. The party making the assignment is called the assignor, while the third party accepting the assignment is known as the assignee.
In order for an assignment and assumption agreement to be valid, the following criteria need to be met:
- The initial contract must provide for the possibility of assignment by one of the initial contracting parties.
- The assignor must agree to assign their rights and duties under the contract to the assignee.
- The assignee must agree to accept, or "assume," those contractual rights and duties.
- The other party to the initial contract must consent to the transfer of rights and obligations to the assignee.
A standard assignment and assumption contract is often a good starting point if you need to enter into an assignment and assumption agreement. However, for more complex situations, such as an assignment and amendment agreement in which several of the initial contract terms will be modified, or where only some, but not all, rights and duties will be assigned, it's a good idea to retain the services of an attorney who can help you draft an agreement that will meet all your needs.
When you're ready to enter into an assignment and assumption agreement, it's a good idea to have a firm grasp of the basics of assignment:
- First, carefully read and understand the assignment and assumption provision in the initial contract. Contracts vary widely in their language on this topic, and each contract will have specific criteria that must be met in order for a valid assignment of rights to take place.
- All parties to the agreement should carefully review the document to make sure they each know what they're agreeing to, and to help ensure that all important terms and conditions have been addressed in the agreement.
- Until the agreement is signed by all the parties involved, the assignor will still be obligated for all responsibilities stated in the initial contract. If you are the assignor, you need to ensure that you continue with business as usual until the assignment and assumption agreement has been properly executed.
Unless you're dealing with a complex assignment situation, working with a template often is a good way to begin drafting an assignment and assumption agreement that will meet your needs. Generally speaking, your agreement should include the following information:
- Identification of the existing agreement, including details such as the date it was signed and the parties involved, and the parties' rights to assign under this initial agreement
- The effective date of the assignment and assumption agreement
- Identification of the party making the assignment (the assignor), and a statement of their desire to assign their rights under the initial contract
- Identification of the third party accepting the assignment (the assignee), and a statement of their acceptance of the assignment
- Identification of the other initial party to the contract, and a statement of their consent to the assignment and assumption agreement
- A section stating that the initial contract is continued; meaning, that, other than the change to the parties involved, all terms and conditions in the original contract stay the same
In addition to these sections that are specific to an assignment and assumption agreement, your contract should also include standard contract language, such as clauses about indemnification, future amendments, and governing law.
Sometimes circumstances change, and as a business owner you may find yourself needing to assign your rights and duties under a contract to another party. A properly drafted assignment and assumption agreement can help you make the transfer smoothly while, at the same time, preserving the cordiality of your initial business relationship under the original contract.
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Assessing Assignability: Transferring Contractual Rights or Obligations | Practical Law
Assessing Assignability: Transferring Contractual Rights or Obligations
Practical law legal update 5-546-6326 (approx. 7 pages).
- An intended transfer is of the type that is prohibited by law or public policy (see Practice Note, Assignability of Commercial Contracts: Statutory and Public Policy Exceptions ).
- The parties expressly agree to restrict transferability (see Practice Note, Assignability of Commercial Contracts: Contractual Anti-assignment and Anti-delegation Clauses ).
- Breaching the contract.
- Making an ineffective and invalid transfer.
Distinguishing Between Assignment and Delegation
- The assignment of rights to receive performance.
- The delegation of duties to perform.
Characteristics of Assignments
- The right to receive performance from the assignor.
- Its remedies against the assignor for any failure to perform.
Characteristics of Delegation
The general rule governing assignment and delegation.
- Most assignments of contractual rights.
- Many delegations of contractual performance.
- Assignments and delegations that violate public policy or law.
- Assignments of rights or delegations of performance that are personal in nature.
- Contracts with anti-assignment or anti-delegation clauses.
Contracts That Present the Greatest Challenges
- Personal services contracts (see Personal Services Contracts ).
- Non-exclusive intellectual property licenses (see Intellectual Property Licenses ).
- Contracts with anti-assignment and anti-delegation clauses (see Contracts With Anti-assignment and Anti-delegation Contract Clauses ).
Personal Services Contracts
Intellectual property licenses, contracts with anti-assignment and anti-delegation clauses, is a change of control an assignment.
- Contains an anti-assignment and anti-delegation clause expressly restricting a change of control.
- States that a change in management or equity ownership of the contracting party is deemed to be an assignment.
When Does an Involuntary Transfer Trigger a Restricted Transfer?
- A contractual anti-assignment and anti delegation clause applies to a specific type or transfer.
- The transfer is permissible, with or without a contractual anti-assignment and anti-delegation provision.
Drafting and Negotiating Anti-assignment and Anti-delegation Clauses
- Directly addressing assignment of rights and delegation of performance.
- Clarifying the universe of restricted transfers.
- Designating the non-transferring party's consent rights.
- Specifying any exceptions to non-transferability.
- Requiring notification of a permitted transfer.
- Including a declaration that impermissible transfers are void.
- Adding a novation to the anti-assignment and anti-delegation provision.
Assign is the act of transferring rights , property , or other benefits to another party (the assignee ) from the party who holds such benefits under contract (the assignor). This concept is used in both contract and property law .
Under contract law, when one party assigns a contract , the assignment represents both: (1) an assignment of rights; and (2) a delegation of duties .
- For example, if A contracts with B to teach B guitar for $50, A can assign this contract to C.
- Here, A has both: (1) assigned A’s rights under the contract to the $50; and (2) delegated A’s duty to teach guitar, to C.
- In this example, A is both the “assignor” and the “delegee” who delegates the duties to another (C), C is known as the “ obligor ” who must perform the obligations to the assignee , and B is the assignee who is owed duties and is liable to the obligor.
Assigning of Rights/Duties Under Contract Law
There are a few notable rules regarding assignments under contract law.
First, if an individual has not yet secured the contract to perform duties to another, they cannot assign their future right to an assignee.
- That is, if A has not yet contracted with B to teach B guitar, A cannot assign their rights to C.
Second, rights cannot be assigned when they materially change the obligor’s duty and rights.
Third, the obligor can sue the assignee directly if the assignee does not pay them.
- Following the previous example, this means that C ( obligor ) can sue B ( assignee ) if C teaches guitar to B, but B does not pay C $50 in return.
Delegation of Duties
If the promised performance requires a rare genius or skill, then the delegee cannot delegate it to the obligor. It can only be delegated if the promised performance is more commonplace. Further, an obligee can sue if the assignee does not perform. However, the delegee is secondarily liable unless there has been an express release of the delegee.
- Meaning if B does want C to teach guitar but C refuses to, then B can sue C. If C still refuses to perform, then B can compel A to fulfill the duties under secondary liability.
Lastly, a related concept is novation , which is when a new obligor substitutes and releases an old obligor. If novation occurs, then the original obligor’s duties are wiped out. Novation requires an original obligee’s consent .
Under property law , assignment typically arises in landlord-tenant situations.
- For example, A might be renting from landlord B but wants another party (C) to take over the property.
- In this scenario, A might choose between assigning and subleasing the property to C.
- If assigning , A would give C the entire balance of the term , with no reversion to anyone; whereas if subleasing , A would give C the property for a limited period of the remaining term.
- Under assignment, C would have privity of estate with the landlord while under a sublease, C would not.
[Last updated in June of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team ]
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Assignment of Rights and Obligations Under a Contract: Everything You Need to Know
An assignment of rights and obligations under a contract occurs when a party assigns their contractual rights to a third party. 3 min read updated on January 01, 2024
Updated October 29, 2020:
An assignment of rights and obligations under a contract occurs when a party assigns their contractual rights to a third party. The benefit that the issuing party would have received from the contract is now assigned to the third party. The party appointing their rights is referred to as the assignor, while the party obtaining the rights is the assignee.
What Is an Assignment of Contract?
In an assignment contract, the assignor prefers that the assignee reverses roles and assumes the contractual rights and obligations as stated in the contract. Before this can occur, all parties to the original contract must be notified.
Contracts create duties and rights. An obligor is the party who is legally or contractually obliged to provide a benefit or payment to another, while an obligation is owed to the obligee. The obligee transfers a right to obtain a benefit owed by the obligor to a third party. At this point, the obligee becomes an assignor. An assignor is the party that actually creates an assignment.
The party that creates an assignment is both the obligee and a transferor. The assignee receives the right to acquire the obligations of the promisor/obligor. The assignor can assign any right to the obligor unless:
- Doing so will materially alter the obligation
- It's materially burdening
- It decreases the value of the original contract
- It increases their risk
- Public policy or a statute makes it illegal
- The contract prevents assignment
Assignments are important in business financing, especially in factoring . A factor is someone who purchases a right to receive a benefit from someone else.
How Assignments Work
The specific language used in the contract will determine how the assignment plays out. For example, one contract may prohibit assignment, while another contract may require that all parties involved agree to it before proceeding. Remember, an assignment of contract does not necessarily alleviate an assignor from all liability. Many contracts include an assurance clause guaranteeing performance. In other words, the initial parties to the contract guarantee the assignee will achieve the desired goal.
When Assignments Will Not Be Enforced
The following situations indicate when an assignment of a contract is not enforced:
- The contract specifically prohibits assignment
- The assignment drastically changes the expected outcome
- The assignment is against public policy or illegal
- The contract contains a no-assignment clause
- The assignment is for a future right that only would be attainable in a contract in the future
- The contract hasn't been finalized or written yet
Delegation vs. Assignment
Occasionally, one party in a contract will desire to pass on or delegate their responsibility to a third party without creating an assignment contract. Some duties are so specific in nature they cannot be delegated. Adding a clause in the contract to prevent a party from delegating their responsibilities and duties is highly recommended.
Characteristics of Assignments
An assignment involves the transfer by an assignor of some or all of its rights to receive performance under the contract to an assignee. The assignee then receives all the benefits of the assigned rights. The assignment doesn't eliminate or reduce the assignor's performance commitments to the nonassigning party.
Three Steps to Follow if You Want to Assign a Contract
There are three main steps to take if you're looking to assign a contract:
- Make sure the current contract does not contain an anti-assignment clause
- Officially execute the assignment by transferring the parties' obligations and rights
- Notify the obligor of the changes made
Once the obligor is notified, the assignor will effectively be relieved of liability.
If you'd prefer not to allow the party you're doing business with to assign a contract, you may be able to prevent this from occurring by clearly stating anti-assignment clauses in the original contract. The three most common anti-assignment clauses are:
- Consent required for assignment
- Consent not needed for new owners or affiliates
- Consent not unreasonably withheld
Based on these three clauses, no party in the contract is allowed to delegate or assign any obligations or rights without prior written consent from the other parties. Any delegation or assignment in violation of this passage shall be deemed void. It is not possible to write an anti-assignment clause that goes against an assignment that is issued or ordered by a court.
If you need help with an assignment of rights and obligations under a contract, you can post your job on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.
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14.2: Delegation of Duties
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- Know what a delegation of duty is.
- Recognize how liability remains on the delegator following a delegation.
- Understand what duties may not be delegated.
Basic Rules Regarding Delegation
To this point, we have been considering the assignment of the assignor’s rights (usually, though not solely, to money payments). But in every contract, a right connotes a corresponding duty, and these may be delegated. A delegation is the transfer to a third party of the duty to perform under a contract. The one who delegates is the delegator . Because most obligees are also obligors, most assignments of rights will simultaneously carry with them the delegation of duties. Unless public policy or the contract itself bars the delegation, it is legally enforceable.
In most states, at common law, duties must be expressly delegated. Under Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Section 2-210(4) and in a minority of states at common law (as illustrated in Section 14.4.2 "Assignment Includes Delegation" , Rose v. Vulcan Materials Co. ), an assignment of “the contract” or of “all my rights under the contract” is not only an assignment of rights but also a delegation of duties to be performed; by accepting the assignment, the delegatee (one to whom the delegation is made) implies a promise to perform the duties. (See Figure 14.3 "Delegation of Duties" )
Figure 14.3 Delegation of Duties
Effect on Obligor
An obligor who delegates a duty (and becomes a delegator) does not thereby escape liability for performing the duty himself. The obligee of the duty may continue to look to the obligor for performance unless the original contract specifically provides for substitution by delegation. This is a big difference between assignment of contract rights and delegation of contract duties: in the former, the assignor is discharged (absent breach of assignor’s warranties); in the latter, the delegator remains liable. The obligee (again, the one to whom the duty to perform flows) may also, in many cases, look to the delegatee, because the obligee becomes an intended beneficiary of the contract between the obligor and the delegatee, as discussed in Section 14.3 "Third-Party Beneficiaries" . Of course, the obligee may subsequently agree to accept the delegatee and discharge the obligor from any further responsibility for performing the duty. A contract among three persons having this effect is called a novation ; it is a new contract. Fred sells his house to Lisa, who assumes his mortgage. Fred, in other words, has delegated the duty to pay the bank to Lisa. If Lisa defaults, Fred continues to be liable to the bank, unless in the original mortgage agreement a provision specifically permitted any purchaser to be substituted without recourse to Fred, or unless the bank subsequently accepts Lisa and discharges Fred.
Personal services are not delegable. If the contract is such that the promisee expects the obligor personally to perform the duty, the obligor may not delegate it. Suppose the Catskill Civic Opera Association hires a famous singer to sing in its production of Carmen and the singer delegates the job to her understudy. The delegation is ineffective, and performance by the understudy does not absolve the famous singer of liability for breach.
Many duties may be delegated, however. Indeed, if they could not be delegated, much of the world’s work would not get done. If you hire a construction company and an architect to design and build your house to certain specifications, the contractor may in turn hire individual craftspeople—plumbers, electricians, and the like—to do these specialized jobs, and as long as they are performed to specification, the contract terms will have been met. If you hired an architecture firm, though, you might not be contracting for the specific services of a particular individual in that firm.
Public policy may prohibit certain kinds of delegations. A public official, for example, may not delegate the duties of her office to private citizens, although various statutes generally permit the delegation of duties to her assistants and subordinates.
Delegations Barred by Contract
As we have already noted, the contract itself may bar assignment. The law generally disfavors restricting the right to assign a benefit, but it will uphold a contract provision that prohibits delegation of a duty. Thus, as we have seen, UCC Section 2-210(3) states that in a contract for sale of goods, a provision against assigning “the contract” is to be construed only as a prohibition against delegating the duties.
The duty to perform a contractual obligation may usually be delegated to a third party. Such delegation, however, does not discharge the delegator, who remains liable on the contract absent a novation.
Some duties may not be delegated: personal services cannot be, and public policy or the contract itself may bar delegation.
- What is the difference between an assignment and a delegation?
- Under what circumstances is the delegator discharged from liability on the contract?