What If I Can't Reach an Agreement with My Insurance Company?

If you and your adjuster can't agree on a settlement amount, contact your agent or your insurance company's claim department manager. Make sure you have figures to back up your claim for more money. If you and your insurance company still disagree, your insurance policy allows for an independent appraisal of the loss.

For an independent appraisal of the loss, you hire an independent appraiser and your insurance company also hires an independent appraiser. Together the appraisers choose a mediator. The decision of any two of these people is binding. You and your insurance company each pay for your own appraiser and share the other costs.

However, disputes rarely get to this stage. Some insurance companies may offer you a slightly different way of settling a dispute, called arbitration. When settlement differences are arbitrated, a neutral arbiter person who judges hears the arguments from both sides and makes a final decision on the dispute.

What Is Mediation?

Mediation is a process through which a neutral, unbiased third party meets with opposing sides in an effort to resolve a dispute. Mediation is not arbitration, where the arbiter makes the decision on how to resolve the dispute. Instead, the mediator recommends a solution after helping the parties focus on the issues and understand each other's point of view. The mediator usually chooses a non-threatening place for the conference, which could include meeting privately with you or your insurance company. The most important thing to remember about participating in mediation is that you have a chance to explain what you believe you are entitled to under your insurance claim.

Mediators should be trained professionals who are skilled in resolving disputes. All should be specifically trained in mediation theory and practice and have no bias, ties or affiliation with you or the insurance company.

Mediation is usually non-binding. Neither you nor the company is legally obligated to accept the outcome. Even if you do settle at the mediation, you have a three-day grace period to change your mind, as long as you do not cash your settlement check and you inform your insurance company that you have decided to reject the mediated outcome.

Choosing mediation also does not prevent you from taking part in other ways of resolving the dispute, or even going to court later. Nothing you say in a mediation conference can be used against you in any later proceedings.

Who Can Ask for Mediation?

Any insured person who has a disputed claim may request mediation. A disputed claim is defined as any claim where the difference between the positions of you and your insurance company are $500 or more. Claims related to commercial insurance, auto insurance, liability coverage, or the National Flood Insurance Program are not eligible. Don't let your insurance company discourage you from pursuing mediation it's your right under the law.