Hurricane Irma is one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the Southeast in recent memory. And the brunt of it was absorbed by Floridians. One of the most devastating effects of this Hurricane was that it destroyed thousands of houses and left people homeless especially throughout the Florida Keys. Losing your house to a hurricane is a traumatic experience. And if you go onto replace or repair your damaged property and are forced to deal with difficult insurance companies – things can get even tougher. This is where the mediation and the appraisal process comes in. Mediation helps settle any disputes about the repair or replacement of the damage done to property and therefore provide an efficient and effective solution to all parties involved. The mediation process can work in favor of all parties and allow a legal and just way to reach a settlement that works for both the insurance company as well as the policyholder. While we at Complete do appraisals and prefer that process we still believe our possible clients should understand that mediation does have a place occasionally in the insurance process. As well as what to know about meditation.

The dispute is resolved by holding a meeting that is attended by all parties and serves to mediate the dispute with a non-binding settlement that resolves the cost of the repair or replacement of the damage done to any property. All parties are required to send in fully informed representatives to the conference in order to resolve the dispute in a fair way.

“John Minor and appraisers talking shop at the annual Windstorm Conference.”

What is Meditation Regarding Insurance Claims?

Mediation serves as an informal way to resolve the dispute about claims between the Insurance Company and the policyholder. A neutral third party can come in to assist in resolving the dispute without having the final say in what the outcome will be. The third party serves to assist and encourage in the resolving process and hence makes this whole process fairer and more effective at resolving disputes. The process works like this: a meeting is held at a location that is easily accessible to the policyholder’s current residence. The mediation conference must have a representative from the side of the policyholder as well as from the insurance company. The representative from the insurer has full authority to resolve the dispute however they deem fit. The cost of the mediator is split between both the parties. Complete Inc’s John Minor has helped mediate thousands of these meetings successfully.

While it is true that all insurance companies do not offer a mediation clause, the ones that do can make it easier for you to decide and finalize the value of certain damage caused to your property and hence determine what the expenses will be. This is also a much less costly and time consuming process than following traditional litigation. If both parties don’t agree on the third party or the arbitrator – the court can appoint an arbitrator to ultimately resolve the dispute. Therefore the mediation clause in your insurance policy holds immense value and you can use it along with a public adjuster and a subsequent mediation process to have all your damages fairly paid for. Mediation has allowed thousands of cases of disputes to be resolved in a fair and accessible process that does not involve having to take your case to the court.

“Hurricane Matthew 2016 – John Minor joins the roundtable discussion with Florida’s Insurance Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer.”

It is imperative that the insurer and the insured both be present at the mediation meeting, and also have thorough knowledge about all facts pertaining to the dispute. Keep in mind that if the insurer’s representative does not possess full authority to settle the claim, their role in the mediation will be discarded altogether.

Legal Representation:

As for legal representation for the insured; the policyholder is allowed to have their attorney present at the mediation conference, provided that the insurer was notified and made aware of this before the conference.

Cost of Mediation:

In the case of property mediation, the insurance company is required to pay the cost of the conference, which is free for the policyholder. However, of the policyholder does not show up for the conference and the conference has to be rescheduled: the policyholder will be liable to pay the fee for the mediation. On the other hand, if the insurance company fails to show up for the conference, they must pay for the rescheduled conference.

Mediation can only be requested for by the insurer, the first part claimant or the policyholder. Any disputes pertaining to property claims are eligible for a mediation. Keep in mind that flood claims are not included and cannot be mediated, which is a huge blow for those of us living here in Florida. Moreover, the disputes must be of more than $500. Property insurance claims are eligible regardless of whether they resulted from a hurricane or some other disaster. If there is a dispute over the cause of the damage itself, it is still eligible for a mediation. However, in case a fraud complaint has been filed or the cause of the damage is not covered under the policy – you are not eligible for mediation.

“Complete observes Hurricane Matthew damage via small plane – many large commercial claims still unsettled.”

 The mediation process is detailed at length on the Florida Department of Insurance website. You will find tons of resources, forms, contact numbers and ways to track the process as you navigate it. The website and detailed info can be found here, much of which was explained briefly in our article above:

Additionally at the bottom of the page you’ll find three links for:

The official Florida Statute can be found here in detail. It explains both insurance rates and contracts:

Keep in mind that the mediation is not binding for either party. The insurance company and the policyholder are neither legally obliged to accept the result of the mediation. If the settlement that has been reached is unacceptable to either party and the check has not yet been cashed it can be rescinded within 3 days after the mediation was resolved.

If you’re looking to have your dispute resolved and your claim fits all of the eligibility requirements – you should look into using mediation in order to reach a fair solution to your dispute.

Mediation In Action

The Insurance Appraisal Process & Florida Department of Insurance DFS Mediation – An experts review