What Happens in Mediation and Appraisal for Property Damage Claims?
A South Florida Property Damage Law Firm Can Help with Mediations Between You and the Insurance Company
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.
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 medition, 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.
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.