BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – In the wake of Hurricane Ida, the state Insurance Commissioner is launching a mediation program to help policyholders have a better shot at getting a fair deal with their insurance companies — but there are some limitations.
The goal of the program is to help residential property owners with insurance claims of $50,000 or less, not including their deductible. They can bring in a third party to come in and look at evidence of damage from Hurricane Ida and make an assessment of how much should be paid.
The meeting costs $600 and Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is urging the company to cover it but it could fall on the policyholder if they refuse.
“Even if they have already been tendered an amount the company feels is the full amount, they have the right to file a supplemental claim and to ask for mediation if they don’t get a positive response,” Donelon said.
This is a voluntary program unlike after Hurricane Katrina. Donelon said the reasoning behind it is “the market is stressed” since there have been numerous disasters in the area in recent years.
“I am confident this new mediation program will be very helpful in solving claim disputes between their insurers and policyholders, in getting people what they need to put their homes and lives back in order,” Donelon said.
Mediation meetings will take place in Baton Rouge or New Orleans. People in the bayou parishes will need to drive into town for the meetings. A virtual option is being explored. The decision made by the mediator is not legally binding but Donelon is urging insurance companies to follow it.
The mediation agreement between the two firms is for only one 90-minute session. That is why Donelon set the limit at $50,000 worth of claims. Anything more will likely take more than one session.
“If they don’t resolve that claim to the satisfaction of their policyholder, ultimately there will be litigation,” Donelon said.
The program is set to end on June 30, 2022, but if it’s really popular and a lot of people take advantage of it, it could be extended.