Volume 3 Number 9
February 27, 2006

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Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, would like Floridians to know that mediation is available to homeowners who suffered damage from the 2005 hurricanes and have not been able settle their insurance claims.  The program is free to policyholders and seeks to achieve quick and fair settlements for storm victims. 

“My number one priority continues to be helping Floridians recover from two unprecedented hurricane seasons,” Gallagher said. “This program has proven results in helping families recover from the 2004 storm season, and I know it will help thousands more still seeking assistance after the 2005 storms.”

Gallagher initiated the mediation program in the aftermath of multiple hurricanes in 2004. Of 12,000 requests for mediation, 93 percent were settled successfully.

Insurance companies are required to notify homeowners whose claims are in dispute of their right to mediation.  Once this notification has been made, the company has 21 days to settle the claim; otherwise the policyholder can call the Department of Financial Services to request that mediation be scheduled. Mediation can help a hurricane victim avoid the lengthy and costly option of going to court.  The mediation is non-binding in those cases where the homeowner chooses not to settle.  Court-approved mediators are provided through the Collins Center for Public Policy.

Storm victims can learn more about mediation by calling 1-800-22-STORM.

The following offices are conducting mediation sessions for Floridians who are having trouble settling their hurricane insurance claims: 

Broward Mediation Center
3544 South University Drive
Davie, FL 33328    

Orange County Bar Association
880 North Orange Avenue
Orlando, FL  32801

Schofield Law Firm
25 West Cedar Street, Suite 450
Pensacola, FL  32502

Plant City
Dickerson Law Firm
Jim Williams
110 East Reynolds Street, Suite 203
Plant City, FL  33563

Punta Gorda
Wotitzky Mediation Firm
407 East Marion Avenue, Suite 103
Punta Gorda, FL  33950