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Gallagher Creates Mediation Program for Storm Victims to Resolve Insurance Disputes

10/11/2004

CONTACT: Tami Torres
850-413-2842
 
Emergency Mediation Rule
 
Emergency Mediation Order
 
TALLAHASSEE - Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher today announced the creation of a mediation program to give storm victims, at no charge to them, a way to quickly and fairly resolve claim disputes with their insurance company.
 "So many Floridians are hurting and struggling to start over.  My goal is to help them do that by getting their insurance claims resolved," said Gallagher, who oversees the Florida Department of Financial Services.
 
The mediation program, created by emergency rule, establishes a dispute resolution process for citizens who need help with resolving hurricane claims prior to pursuing other options such as going to court.   Mediation meetings will be scheduled and facilitated by court-certified mediators provided through the Collins Center for Public Policy. 
 
Under the emergency rule, once a policyholder disputes a claim settlement offer, the insurance company is required to notify the policyholder of his or her right to mediation. Policyholders can also contact the department at 1-800-22-STORM to request mediation. The insurance company will then have 21 days to resolve the claim before a mediation meeting can be scheduled. 
 
According to Gallagher, who was Insurance Commissioner when Hurricane Andrew devastated Homestead in 1992, more than eighty percent of claims referred to mediation reach settlement, and more than 90 percent reach partial settlement.
At least four mediation centers will be set up in hurricane-hit communities around the state, with the first one soon opening in Charlotte County.
 
Storm victims can learn more about mediation services by logging on to the department's website at www.fldfs.com and downloading the "Mediation Program" brochure or by calling the hurricane hotline at 1-800-22-STORM.