After Hurricane Katrina a number of states rushed to set up insurance claim mediation programs. We offered suggestions to those that were interested in our input, then published a Policyholders Guide to Mediation to help consumers get better results. Policyholders who have used state-sponsored mediation have reported to UP that they were disappointed by the experience, felt intimidated into accepting a lowball offer and/or that it was a waste of time because the insurer didn’t take the process seriously. In 2010 we launched a research project to gather data and identify the essential consumer protection features that make mediation work well for policyholders. Hastings Law student Anne Scott began the project, then Rutgers School of Law at Camden Professor Jay Feinman joined and recruited students Abe Tran and Oliver Barry. Abe Tran completed a 2012 UP report titled; “Consumer Protection Standards for Post-Disaster Insurance Mediation” and was awarded The First Congressional District of New Jersey Award for Scholarship in the Law. This award is presented to a student whose outstanding legal paper addresses an important issue in government, politics or society that is impacting, or has had a profound impact historically on our country. We commend Mr. Tran on this honor and are grateful for his volunteer service to United Policyholders. UP is distributing the report to insurance regulators throughout the United States. Under the right conditions and with safeguards, it is possible for insurance disputes to be resolved fairly via mediation instead of a court or jury trial. But just as insurance is not a level playing field, neither is mediation. Company personnel are repeat “institutional users” with an advantage of being familiar with the mediation process, terminology, and the insurance claim game in general. Consumers generally are first time users at the mercy of the mediator and highly vulnerable to being discouraged about their chances of winning a lawsuit and pressured into accepting a low offer.
What people say about UP
“This group provided valuable information and support for those who lost their homes in the Fourmile Fire two years ago and they have worked in many other communities that have suffered property damaging disasters. I recommend them without reservation.”United Way
“We cannot thank you enough for all your support, education and assistance through our recovery from the 2017 Tubbs Fire. Without all your input I have no idea how we could have recovered. We’re not quite there yet, but getting closer! Many, many thanks.”Christopher and Urmila - 2017 Tubbs Fire Victims
“The disaster recovery resources you provided helped many individuals and families.”County of Lake, CA
“Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of your outstanding contributions to the Third Supervisorial District and the County of San Diego.”County of San Diego
“(United Policyholders) provided helpful insights into the state of the current insurance market for earthquake, fire and flood coverage, and the critical rile insurance plays in the ability of our communities recover from such catastrophic events. You brought an important and unique perspective to the hearing, that of homeowners themselves.”California State Senate
“Whenever I felt confused about any topic I first looked it up in the yellow book. Then I could go deeper based on what I read. Or I knew when to call it good.”Wildfire Survivor 2014