• Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Homeowners' Policy and Claims Bill of Rights Working Group Meets on Alternative Dispute Resolution, Insurers' Right to Repair
  • August 13, 2013
  • Law Firm: Colodny Fass Talenfeld Karlinsky Abate Webb P.A. - Fort Lauderdale Office
  • Today, August 12, 2013, the Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Homeowners' Policy and Claims Bill of Rights Working Group ("Working Group") met via teleconference to continue its discussion on property insurance claims handling issues.  Specifically, they addressed alternative dispute resolution ("ADR") and the right to repair.  On these matters, the Working Group identified the following possible recommendations:

    Alternative Dispute Resolution

    • Combine the insurance mediation, neutral evaluation and appraisal processes to reflect a stronger alternative dispute resolution process for consumers.
    • Increase regulatory review by the Florida Department of Financial Services ("DFS") with stronger licensing requirements, qualification criteria and standards of conduct.
    • Adoption of rules of new ADR processes to include rules similar to the Rules of Civil Procedure that give more structure to the process. (e.g. requirements for disputes regarding coverage and damages be separately stated, certain document requests and/or notices provides prior to ADR.)
    • Enforceability of property owner presence for all ADR proceedings.

    Insurers' Right to Repair-Safeguards and Warranties

    • Establish standards for Right to Repair Programs, as well as for Managed Repair Programs.
    • Required warranties for work provided under Right to Repair.
    • Establish dispute resolution for parties not satisfied with work performed under these programs.

    On today's teleconference, a DFS official noted concerns about neutral evaluators and mediators, explaining that the DFS does not feel as though it has strong enough statutory authority to discipline the "bad actors" in this arena.  Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott agreed that the DFS should have stronger disciplinary authority.  The Working Group members also felt it may be a good idea to license appraisers and umpires.

    Regarding the right to repair, the Working Group agreed that authorizing a Right to Repair program is a good addition to the claims handling toolbox.  However, it is not used universally in the insurance industry.  Ms. Westcott expressed some concerns about potential abuses with deductible financing.  She does not believe an insurer should be able to put a policyholder in a weak position by controlling the repair and the deductible financing.  Often, the financing company is an arm of the insurer.  

    Following these discussions, the hour-long call adjourned.

    The Working Group next will meet in person on August 19, 2013 at the Pinellas Realtors Organization, 4590 Ulmerton Road, Clearwater, FL 33762 from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.  A call-in number will be provided.  The meeting will also be televised on the Florida Channel, which can be accessed at www.TheFloridaChannel.org.