The Florida Legislature created the Residential Property Mediation program in an effort to give policholders an informal way to resolve claims disputes with their insurance company without the need for filing a lawsuit. In mediation, a neutral third party acts to encourage and assist the parties to resolve a dispute without taking sides or bringing party bias to the dispute.
At mediation, an insurance company must provide a representative with full authority to settle the claim at the conference. The conference will be conducted at a location near the policyholder residence and the insured and the insurer shall attend the mediation conference. The parties attending will have full knowledge of the facts of the dispute and be fully authorized to make an agreement to completely resolve the claim. If an insurer representative does not have full authority to settle the full value of the claim, they are deemed to have failed to appear. Full authority also includes the ability to disburse the full settlement amount within 10 days of the conclusion of the conference. If the insurance company fails to appear, without good cause, they must pay actual cash expenses of the policyholder in attending a rescheduled conference and must pay the mediator’s fees for each conference appearance.
Mediation is non-binding and can serve as a good opportunity to evaluate the merits of a policyholder's dispute without the threat of a negative jury decision. As it is non-binding, neither the policyholder nor the insurance company is legally obligated to accept the outcome; however, the cost of the meidation is paid by the insurance company and settlements reached at the conference can be rescinded within three days of the agreement as long as the check has not been cashed.
To be eligible for residential property mediation there must be a dispute between the policyholder and the insurer or a denial of the claim in an amount in excess of $500.00. All property insurance claims (hurricane and non-hurricane) are eligible for mediation unless a fraud complaint has been filed against the insured or if there is agreement between the parties that a non-covered peril is the cause of the loss. So, even if there is a dispute concerning the cause of loss, it is eligible for mediation.
While some policyholders elect to take on their mediation alone, most of those end up in an impasse or, worse, with a policyholder executing a release of their claim for significantly less than should have been paid under their policy. Once such a release is executed, a policyholder can be left with not recourse to seek additional amounts when the settlement funds run out.
We have assisted countless policyholders both through and following the residential property insurance mediation process. If you are considering participating in residential property mediation, Bennett Legal is here to help and submit a request on your behalf that will be taken seriously by the insurance company. So that we may evaluate your loss and submit a request to the Florida Department of Financial Services on your behalf, please provide the following information in the message field below:
1. The name of your insurance company.
2. Type of loss, including whether the loss is related to hurricane, fire, sinkhole, hail, plumbing leak, mold, pool pop, personal property, theft, vandalism, other.
3. Your policy number.
4. Your claim number.
5. The address of the insured property.
6. Whether the dispute is over a) unsatisfactory settlement offer, b) cause of loss, c) scope of repairs, or d) scope of damages.
7. The county where the insured property is located.
8. The full name of all persons appearing as named insureds on the insurance policy.
Have a question about Florida's Sinkhole Neutral Evaluation Program or want to make a request for same? Fill out the details above in the contact form and include the name of the engineering or geology firm retained by the insurance company to investigate your claim.
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