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Your Car Accident - Dealing With Your Insurance Company on a Disputed Claim

By Dan Baldyga Email: dbpaw@comcast.net

When you disagree with your insurance company, about a claim, you have options you can use without going to court.

#1. If your agent is unable to solve your problem, get the name and phone number of your insurance companies Claims Department. It’s usually an 800 number. Call and ask if they have a Consumer Complaint Department? Most do. If so, talk to them because they may be able to help you.

Don’t hang up until you get the specific name of the person with whom you spoke. (Make a note of the person you talked with and hold onto it until you’ve finished with your dispute).

#2. Be ready to support your case by sending a covering letter (to that individual whom you spoke with) which contains all the documents you have to back up your position.

#3. All insurance companies have either an “Appraisal Service” or “Arbitration Service” to help settle differences and/or disputes. Your policy should explain these options.(If you can’t find either of these ask your agent to find them for you)!

#4. If you’ve followed their rules for resolving your dispute, and you’re still not satisfied, your own state’s insurance department should be able to help you.

#5. If, after hearing from your own insurance company’s people (you're confident you’ve not been handled properly) you should call 1 800 942-4242 ( a toll-free Consumer Information Service) sponsored by the insurance industry.

Trained personnel are available to assist consumers who have complaints. THIS “HELP LINE” OPERATES ON EASTERN TIME, MONDAY THRU FRIDAY, 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM.

#6. ALSO: An “Independent Arbitrator”, who allegedly has experience in insurance problems, can decide if what you’ve been told (or offered to settle your claim) is fair. You can get to them by calling THE AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION 1 212 484-4000.

#7. MEDIATION: More often than not the Mediator does not have the authority to make a binding decision or issue an award to either party. The mediator only recommends a solution.

Mediation is a solid first step because it can negate the need for further expense on both sides. The first thing you should do is check the language in your auto insurance policy where it will spell out who will mediate (and/or arbitrate) a claim. You should submit a DEMAND FOR ARBITRATION FORM to whoever is listed in your policy. On that Demand for Arbitration Form you can specify whether you want “MEDIATION” or “ARBITRATION”.

DEMAND FOR ARBITRATION FORMS are available from your state’s Department of Insurance, or you can print a copy of a Demand Form from the American Arbitration Association’s web site.

AS YOU MOVE ALONG WITH THE ABOVE NEVER FORGET THESE TWO CRUCIAL FACTS:

A. Mediation is much less expensive than Arbitration.

B. The Mediation Decisions are only considered to be advisory.

HOWEVER: Arbitration Rulings are absolutely binding!