New Jersey has now joined New York in instituting a voluntary mediation program for insured victims of Superstorm Sandy with “open and unresolved first-party insurance claims.” The program became operative with the issuance of a Bulletin on Thursday, March 28, and insurers must provide all eligible policyholders with notice of their right to request mediation and detailed instructions about how to do so within five business days’ time, which is to say by Friday, April 5.
New York instituted such a program on February 25, 2013, when the state’s Department of Financial Services promulgated an emergency amendment to New York’s Insurance Regulation 64. The amendment created a voluntary program for policyholders who had sustained loss or damage to real or personal property — excepting motor vehicles and claims under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) — between October 26 and November 1 of last year in the four Long Island counties, the three New York City counties, and three other counties (Orange, Rockland and Westchester) upriver from the city. If certain conditions were met, insureds with disputed or denied claims were entitled to request mediation using the Storm Sandy Mediation Claims Program of the American Arbitration Association (AAA). Any AAA fees were to be borne by the insurer. The mediation process was non-binding, and it did not affect any other rights that the policyholder had (such as the right to request appraisal and the right to commence litigation).
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