The Louisiana Department of Insurance recently announced a voluntary mediation program for Hurricane Ida claims with disputes of up to $50,000. The program is called the Hurricane Ida Mediation Program. Below you will find a summary of the mediation program requirements, a copy of the Department of Insurance bulletin, and my general recommendations.
Summary of the Hurricane Ida Mediation Program
- The program is for insurance claims up to $50,000 in value.
- It only applies to residential insurance policies.
- Perry Dampf Dispute Solutions and Maps Arbitration are the participating mediation firms.
- All relevant documentation relevant to the insurance claim must be given to the selected mediator within five (5) days of first contact from the mediator.
- The mediation will be scheduled within 30 days of assignment.
- Attorneys and other representatives are not required but may attend the mediation.
- Each party can present their side of the story. Contractors, adjusters, appraisers and other people with knowledge of the claim may be there in support of the parties.
- All evidence and statements made are considered settlement negotiations in anticipation of litigation.
- Up to the first ninety (90) minutes, (1) the program is free to the policyholder and (2) the insurance carrier has to pay $600. After the ninety minutes, the mediation can continue though the mediator will bill for the additional time.
- Both parties have to agree to any settlement amount. Payment will need to be made within ten (10) days.
Department of Insurance Hurricane Ida Mediation Program Bulletin
For a complete copy of the Hurricane Ida Mediation Program Bulletin, Bulletin 2021-09, dated October 15, 2021, click here.
Disputes over pricing and methods & scope of repairs should be ideal candidates for this program, whether or not the policyholder is represented by an attorney. Under the terms of the program, contractors, insurance adjusters, appraisers, and other people with knowledge of the claim can attend. With these knowledgeable people present the claim could be fully presented to the mediator and negotiated.
For coverage disputes the policyholder will be best served to represented by an attorney knowledgeable of the applicable insurance policy and insurance laws and court case precedents. When there is a coverage dispute, the insurance company will have a fixed interpretation of policy language and how it applies to the disputed claim. It is difficult to have an insurance carrier re-interpret its own policy provisions and decisions as to coverage. That’s why an experienced insurance attorney who can show the insurance company specific statutes and court cases that apply to the claim is beneficial. As well, the attorney’s negotiation and litigation experience should add value to the claim.
Bad faith insurance disputes will likely not be resolved through the Hurricane Ida Mediation Program. Insurance companies obviously do not like to pay bad faith damages in pre-suit claims negotiations, or ever really. And, regardless, the bad faith damages would almost always increase the payable damages above the $50,000 limit. Generally speaking, bad faith damages become due when an insurance company arbitrarily, capriciously or without probable cause: denies an insurance claim, fails to pay a claim within thirty (30) days after receiving satisfactory proof of loss, fails to promptly and thoroughly inspect the loss, and more. (For more information on bad faith liability and damages in Louisiana, read this blog.)
Disclaimer: These are general recommendations only. If you would like to discuss your insurance claim, contact me by phone or email.