Flooding in French Settlement, La., Thursday Sept. 2, 2021. Gov. John Bel Edwards visits the parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, and Tangipahoa during an aerial tour to assess Hurricane Ida damages and meet with local officials. (Photo by Bill Feig, The Advocate)
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Homeowners and insurance companies haggling over Hurricane Ida damage claims can take advantage of a new mediation program announced Tuesday by Louisiana’s Department of Insurance.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon detailed the program at a Tuesday news conference.
Two mediation companies — Mediation & Arbitration Professional Systems in Metairie or Perry Dampf Dispute Solutions in Baton Rouge — have agreed to provide the service for such residential claims for a flat fee of $600. The policyholder or the insurance company can request mediation, and the other party can accept or reject the invitation.
“Both insurers and policyholders are free to bring adjusters, appraisers, contractors or other knowledgeable individuals to the mediation,” the department said in a news release. Mediation sessions will last 90 minutes.
Donelon said the program is not mandatory for insurers, but added that it would be in insurers' best interest. “To not spend this $600, I think, risks being penny-wise and dollar-foolish,” Donelon said. “Because if they don't resolve that claim to the satisfaction of their policyholder, ultimately, there will be litigation. And litigation becomes costly to all parties.”
An unsuccessful mediation doesn't affect the policyholder's right to continue negotiations or to litigate, Donelon said.