In property damage claims under homeowners insurance policies, disputes between the insurer and insured often concern the amount that the insurer is obligated to pay, rather than whether the claim is covered by the policy. These types of disputes are the basis for the entire public adjusting industry. Public adjusters act as advocates for insureds in order to maximize the settlement amount recovered for property damage claims.
Sometimes, even with a public adjuster’s involvement, an insurer and insured reach a stalemate where they cannot agree on the amount that should be paid for a homeowners insurance claim. In that case, Massachusetts law (M.G.L. ch.175, §99) requires that the dispute be referred to a three-person panel for arbitration. This process, which is commonly known as “reference,” provides a quicker, less expensive process than litigation through the court system. The reference process, however, is subject to strict procedural requirements and deadlines, and culminates in a hearing before the arbitrators. While reference hearings are not as formal as court trials, they typically involve sworn live testimony, documentary evidence, and expert witnesses. Insurance companies retain attorneys to represent their interests in reference proceedings. Any homeowner pursuing the reference process should do so as well. If you and your insurer are at an impasse over the extent of the damage or cost of repairs for your home, please contact our office.
The contents of this page are intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice. For guidance and advocacy tailored to the needs of your legal matter, please contact our office.
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