For Immediate Release: September 2, 2011
Commissioner Goodwin Activates Disaster Mediation Program
Order helps resolve homeowners insurance disputes over Hurricane Irene damage claims.
RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today announced that homeowners whose insurance claims have been denied for damage caused by Hurricane Irene may be eligible for the North Carolina Department of Insurance's Disaster Mediation Program.
The Disaster Mediation Program was created in 2006 to help homeowners resolve disputed homeowners insurance 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 Aug. 30 and Sept. 1. The following counties have been declared disaster areas due to Hurricane Irene, making homeowners policyholders in those counties potentially eligible for the Disaster Mediation Program: Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Dare, Halifax, Hyde, Lenoir, Pamlico and Tyrrell. Additional counties could be added to the declaration.
Homeowners may be eligible for mediation if their claims for residential property damage have been 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.
"Many North Carolinians will be filing insurance claims in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Through mediation, eligible homeowners and insurance companies can resolve disputes in a fair and timely way," Goodwin said.
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 clicking on this link. Mediation sessions will be scheduled at the offices of qualified mediators located near the affected areas.
Additional information will soon be available through the American Arbitration Association (the Mediation Program administrator) at 800-426-8792 or on their Web site.
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.