What Happens in Mediation and Appraisal for Property Damage Claims?
Very often, the homeowner or business owner will not agree on the amount of money being offered by the insurance company to repair damage at your house or building. When this happens, most insurance policies allow for either party – the insured or the insurance company – to request mediation or appraisal to resolve the disagreement over the value of the property damage claim. If this happens, consulting with a Fort Lauderdale property damage law firm is greatly encouraged in order to make sure you agree to a proper settlement.
Breaking Down the Mediation Process for Property Damage Claims
Mediation is a meeting between the insured and a representative from the insurance company. The meeting is presided over by a neutral party called a mediator. The mediator is paid by the insurance company but is bound ethically to work for both sides in an effort to get the claim resolved. Most mediators like to say that a good mediation occurs when the insured leaves the mediation taking a little less than they wanted, and the insurance company leaves the mediation having paid a little more than they wanted to pay.
At mediation, the insured will have chance to present evidence as to why their claim is worth more than the insurance company wants to pay. You can do this through estimates, photographs, bills, or any other documentation that shows how much property damage you had, and the cost of repairs that it will take to fix the damage.
Mediation is an informal process. It is also voluntary, meaning that is one side does not want to settle their case at mediation, they are not required to. There are no rules of evidence to follow. If you have information that you think is relevant to your claim, you just need to bring it with you for the mediator and the insurance company to consider. The insurance company will also have a chance to argue why the amount they offered is sufficient to cover your property damage. A Fort Lauderdale property damage lawyer isn’t required, but can certainly attend to help you understand the process and provide legal advice.
Once the mediator has heard both sides’ presentations, each side will be placed in a separate room, and the mediator will have private discussions with each side. The mediator will then go back and forth between the parties and attempt to get them to agree on a dollar value for the property damage. If both side agree, they will sign a mediation agreement that becomes binding on the parties once signed.
What Can You Expect from Mediation for Your Claim?
The goal of the mediation process for property insurance coverage disputes is to determine how much the insurance company is going to pay. If successful, mediation will result in a negotiated agreement regarding the coverage to be provided. The mediator’s role is not to issue a binding decision but rather to help the parties (you and your insurance company) reach an agreement that considers all pertinent facts and circumstances.
Appraisals to Evaluate Damage to Properties in South Florida
Appraisal is also a process used when the insured and the insurance company cannot agree on the value of a property damage claim. Appraisal is different from mediation in that both sides – the insured and the insurance company – will choose an “independent” appraiser that will provide an estimate on the value of your property damage. In reality, the insured will hopefully choose a person that will give them a favorable estimate, and the insurance company will do the same. Both appraisers are then charged with selecting a neutral umpire who will consider both appraisers estimate, will view the property, and determine a reasonable value for the property damage and repairs needed to fix the damage.
For both mediation and appraisal, it is best for an experienced homeowner property damage lawsuit lawyer to represent you. Lawyers are trained and experienced in both procedures, but also the small details of your insurance policy, and how to maximize the value of your claim. Insurance companies attend thousands of mediations and appraisals each year and are experienced in how to minimize and defend your claim. If you choose mediation or appraisal and agree to resolve your claim, you will give up your right to a jury trial.
What is the Difference Between a Mediation and an Appraisal for Property Damage?
The appraisal process is entirely different from mediation. While mediation focuses on achieving a negotiated resolution, the appraisal process involves hiring a third-party professional to determine how much coverage is owed. An appraisal will generally be considered binding, although there are options for challenging unfavorable appraisals in many cases.
Do You Need a Fort Lauderdale Property Damage Lawyer to Assist with Mediation or an Appraisal?
While you can try to handle mediation on your own, it is in your best interests to hire a lawyer to represent you. A lawyer who is familiar with the process and who has significant experience handling property damage claims will be able to spot issues, assert strategic arguments, and help you make informed decisions regarding a settlement.
The same is true when it comes to requesting an appraisal. An experienced Fort Lauderdale property damage lawyer can make sure that requesting an appraisal is your best option, make sure you request an appraisal correctly, and make sure you choose an appraiser who is capable of accurately valuing your home and the cost of repairs.
Your Lawyer Can Help with Requesting Your Appraisal or Mediation
You should consider requesting mediation or an appraisal if you are struggling to obtain coverage under your home, flood or business insurance policy. Specifically, you should consider requesting mediation or an appraisal if your insurance company isn’t providing enough coverage for all of the necessary repairs to your home or business.
But, requesting mediation or an appraisal isn’t necessarily your first option. In many cases, it will be possible to secure full coverage by hiring a lawyer to handle your claim for you. While South Florida property damage lawyer Joseph Maus is experienced in handling property insurance mediation and appraisals, he is equally experienced in helping homeowners and business owners obtain coverage through the normal claims process.
Your lawyer will need to review the terms of your home, flood or business insurance policy to see what it says about requesting mediation or an appraisal. Typically, the process involves submitting some sort of formal notice to your insurer. It is important to make sure you follow the terms of your policy to the letter, as your insurance company may deny your request (and later claim that you “waived” your rights) if you don’t do exactly what is required under the terms of your policy.
What if You are Dissatisfied with the Outcome of Mediation or an Appraisal?
Mediation is a non-binding process; so, if you are not satisfied with your insurance company’s offer, you can seek coverage through other means. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of an appraisal, you will need to consult with a property damage lawyer to find out what options you still have available.