North Carolina Offers Mediation for Storm Claims

Homeowners in North Carolina whose property suffered recent storm damage but had their claims denied by their insurance company may eligible for a mediation program.

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin announced the program in the wake of a massive storm system that swept across the Southeast last weekend leaving behind dozens of fatalities, destroyed homes and dead livestock. In North Carolina alone, some 24 people were killed.

The Disaster Mediation Program was created by lawmakers after the 2005-2006 hurricane season to help homeowners resolve disputes with insurers in designated disaster areas .

Following the recent storms, Gov. Beverly Perdue declared 18 counties disaster areas while state officials estimated that up to 440 homes were completely destroyed and 6,000 damaged.

Under the program, homeowners can request a mediation conference if their homeowners’ insurers deny or partially deny their claims. During the mediation an independent mediator with no ties to an insurance company will help discuss and negotiate a possible settlement.

“I want to make sure the insurance claims process goes as smoothly as possible for our citizens,” said Goodwin. “Mediation will help homeowners resolve disputes with their insurance companies in a fair and timely manner.”

The Disaster Mediation Program is available only to homeowners; commercial property and auto policies are not eligible. The total amount of the claim or the difference between an insurer’s coverage and the disputed portion of the claim must be at least $1,500. The disputed claims don’t include claims denied because of policy exclusions or the because policy was not in force at the time of the loss. The request for mediation must be made within 60 days from when the claim was denied.