Hurricane Ian: Mediation Plan


Disaster Relief Claims Resolution Services are for homeowners, property, and business claims. The American Arbitration Association has a specific disaster relief program that helps families and individuals dispute claims related to natural disasters. Natural disasters are very destructive to property, livelihood incomes, insurance claims, time, and emotional duress. The American Arbitration Association has helped citizens with their disaster claims through notable programs like Storm Sandy -New York, Storm Sandy - New Jersey, Hurricane Katrina, and Rita - Louisianna and Mississippi, Hurricane Andrew - Florida. During Hurricane Andrew, Florida mandated this program that has a settlement rate of 92% for their 2,500 + claims. This program is an incredible resource for individuals looking to make claims on their property due to Hurricane Ian. Many insurance companies have their own internal arbitration programs and disclosure that you must read on your specific policy. Mediation services can also be petitioned to your local court mediation services department.

Disputing a claim with AAA

  1. Mediation Process Commences - AAA Provides a case manager for the parties and the mediation is scheduled.

  2. Mediation Conference Occurs - In-person or via telephone communications mediation process

  3. Mediation Settlement - Insurer issues payment and mediator reports to AAA

  4. Mediation Impasse - Mediator delivers reports. Parties proceed to the next step in agreement - AAA arbitration or litigation



The mediation process for natural disasters can be very emotionally distressful however mediators are there to facilitate the conversation to a settlement agreement. If the parties can not settle on a stipulation then the mediation is called an impasse. The mediator must deliver the report that the parties did not agree and the next step would be litigation (trial procedure) or arbitration ( stipulation administered by a certified and court-appointed arbitrator).


Residential Property Mediation

The mediation process may be requested by the policyholder and is the first-party or third-party with assigned policy benefits or insurer. The insurer is not required to be a part of the mediation process if the mediation was requested by the third party assigned with policy benefits. In the mediation process, it is important to have a Letter of Representation if the petitioner has an attorney or public adjuster contract. The Assignment of Benefits is a signed agreement that transfers the insurance claims rights and benefits of the policy to the third party. The third party is allowed to file a claim, make repair decisions and collect insurance payments with the policyholder(s). Depending on the language of the assignment of benefits the third-party holder might relinquish the rights to the insurance claims which may include the civil mediation right, or make decisions regarding the claim like repairs or policy payment adjustment rates.

Typically, the dispute is a disagreement on what caused the damages or the amount of money a company offered to pay for repairs. Although certain requirements of the policy are not met, the company and the insurer or AOB can agree to a mediation to settle this civil dispute. This is because the company wants to help the individual repair damages and process their payment claims. The individual wants to make the repairs on their residential property and have an affordable payment plan. A professional neutral will be assigned to this mediation process between the parties to resolve this civil dispute. If the AOB has the right to sign a mediation settlement agreement then the primary policyholder(s) do not need to be in attendance because they no longer have settlement authority. Mediation costs are typically very affordable compared to full litigation or arbitration process. It would be wise to have a good attitude and respect during the mediation process to gain a situation agreement that promotes your long-term well-being.


Automobile Mediation

Automobile mediation allows you to settle insurance claim disputes caused by the ownership, operation, and use or maintenance of a motor vehicle. Automobile mediations are usually caused by a claim against your insurance company and the claims against the other party's insurance company are both eligible for mediation. Automobile mediation services are completely voluntary. The insurance company nor the claimant are required to participate. A mediation only occurs if both parties agree to make a settlement agreement process. Automobile insurance companies may have their own specific policy for mediation and the primary policyholder will be held to the terms and conditions of their mediation procedure. The third-party claimants for a claim dispute against someone else's insurance company can occur in mediation.

Certain disaster-related automobile mediations can be caused by a car accident during the evacuation, damage to unoccupied vehicles, drive-by damage, and minor damages caused by another party's vehicle collision. Unoccupied vehicles can take on damages like debris, water damage caused by flooding, and deterioration of the interior (seats, dashboard, electrical units, additional personal property inside the vehicle, and the trunk). The insurance company can also request mediation if they have discovered damages or appropriated costs that the policyholder(s) or third-party AOB are requested to pay. Corporate disputants must have a corporate representative that has full knowledge of the facts of the dispute and is authorized to make an agreement. In some instances, a corporation will have a representative that has a certain amount of authoritative power that allows them to negotiate within the parameters of a settlement to resolve the dispute.


Commercial Residential Mediation

Residential property mediation allows you to settle disputes regarding all residential property claims resulting from policies in which a Condominium Association, Cooperative Association, or Homeowners’ Association are the policyholders. Information that is needed during a mediation process includes policy, photographs, estimates, bills, reports, letters, email correspondence, telephonic conversation time, and dates. Documentation by the board for the property or entity designates an authorized representative. The name of the condominium or cooperative, association, the date of the meeting when the designation was made, the designated individual(s), and the authority granted to the individuals of the dispute. Insurance responsibilities that the entity and unit owners are held by for maintaining and repairing the property. Written testimonial of the damages by third-party experts that inspected and pre-appraised the building or foundation. Written analysis of the damages to the property that allocates the costs of the estimated damages between the individual residential owner of parcels or units, common areas, and the entity's property within the individual's jurisdictional control.

The Florida mediation programs can help insurers and self-represented litigants (pro se) find affordable mediation services because they usually have to pay mediation fees upfront before the mediation session begins. Usually, notice from the insurance company's response to an internal claim is what proposes a right to mediation which describes the rules and regulations of the program such as formalities of the session, and preparation tips for self-represented litigants or individuals with representation. I highly suggest that individuals try to make a good effort to dispute a claim with their company internally. However, many disputes are petitioned to the court system for disaster-related instances.


Remember petitioners can be referred to their local Florida court house mediation service program.


"For the people and the peaceful resolution of disputes."


References


American Arbitration Association (2022) Disaster Relief Programs. https://www.adr.org/DisasterReliefPrograms


Division of Consumer Services (2022) Mediation and Neutral Evaluation. https://www.myfloridacfo.com/division/consumers/mediation/


Rubin, M. (n.d.) Disaster Mediation: Lessons in Conflict Coordination. chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://www.acctm.org/docs/Disaster%20Mediation%20-%20Lessons%20in%20Conflict%20Coordination%20-%20MELVIN%20RUBIN.pdf






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