For Immediate Release: April 20, 2011
Mediation Helps Resolve Disputes Over Storm Damage Insurance Claims
Program is available for disaster-area homeowners who have had their claims denied
RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today announced that homeowners whose insurance claims have been denied for damage caused by the April 16 storms, tornadoes and flooding may be eligible for the Disaster Mediation Program.
The Disaster Mediation Program was created in 2006 to help homeowners resolve disputes with their insurance companies over claims arising from disasters declared by the Governor or President. The President of the United States issued such a declaration for parts of North Carolina on April 19. The following counties have been declared disaster areas and are eligible for the Disaster Mediation Program: Bertie, Bladen, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Johnston, Lee, Onslow, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Wake and Wilson.
Eligible homeowners can request mediation if they have had claims for residential property damage partially or completely denied by their insurance company. During a mediation conference, an independent mediator with no connection to the insurance company will facilitate discussion and negotiation between the insurance company and the policyholder to help them reach a resolution.
"Insurance will play an important role as many North Carolinians piece their lives back together after these devastating storms," said Goodwin. "I want to make sure that the insurance claims process goes as smoothly as possible for our citizens. Mediation will help homeowners resolve disputes with their insurance companies in a fair and timely manner."
Disaster Mediation Program details:
- Mediation is free for eligible homeowners. Commercial property policies and auto policies are not eligible for mediation.
- Requests for mediation must be made within 60 days from the date the claim was denied. Homeowners should notify their insurance company of the request.
- Homeowners must have a disputed claim in which the insurer has denied payment in whole or in part. The dispute must be over the insurance company's findings on the cause of the loss or the amount of the loss.
- The total amount of the claim, or the difference in position between the policyholder and the insurer, must be at least $1,500 (unless both parties agree to mediate a smaller claim).
- Disputed claims do not include claims denied because of policy exclusions, terms or conditions, or because the policy was not in force at the time of loss.
- Mediators facilitate discussion and negotiation between the parties but do not make a decision on the claim.
To learn more about the Disaster Mediation Program, visit the Department of Insurance website by by clicking on this link. A list of mediation sites will be added to the website as those sites are determined.
Additional information will soon be available through the American Arbitration Association (the Mediation Program administrator) at 800-426-8792 or by clicking on this link.
Any homeowner, regardless of eligibility for mediation, can file a complaint with the Department of Insurance's Consumer Services Division at 800-546-5664, or through the company's appeal/appraisal process outlined in the insurance policy.