Changes to Florida law created the Neutral Evaluation Process, or NEP, in Florida in 2006. Neutral Evaluation is designed to give insurance companies and homeowners a "second opinion" about the cause of damage to homes, specifically about whether sinkhole activity is impacting a home. On its face, NEP sounds like a fair and balanced solution to help determine the cause of damage to homes.
How "Neutral" Is The Neutral Evaluator?
In reality, however, NEP is far from fair and balanced. Most of the Neutral Evaluators approved by the Florida Department of Financial Services DO ALMOST ALL OF THEIR WORK FOR INSURANCE COMPANIES!!! In fact, the same testing companies most often used by insurance companies are listed as Neutral Evaluators! How neutral can these Neutral Evaluators be of one day they’re working for an insurance company, and the next day they’re evaluating or judging that same insurance company?
How Does Neutral Evaluation Work?
When an insurance company makes a sinkhole claim determination, with the coverage letter the insurance company is supposed to send the homeowner a pamphlet describing the NEP. A homeowner or an insurance company my elect neutral evaluation simply by calling the phone number on the phamplet. Neutral Evaluation is paid for by the insurance company, at no cost to the homeowner.
Within days of requesting a NEP, the Florida Department of Financial Services notifies both the insurance company and homeowner, and the process of selecting a Neutral Evaluator begins. But remember – since almost all Neutral Evaluators do most of their day to day work on behalf of insurance companies, you should question how "neutral" the selected Neutral Evaluator is.
Once selected, the Neutral Evaluator will conduct his or her investigation. Some investigations are very thorough and complete, involving a top to bottom inspection of a home and independent testing, while potentially less "neutral" neutral evaluators might not even want to conduct any testing at all!
As a homeowner, you should always request that the Neutral Evaluator conduct his or her own testing and come up with his or her own results! What if the insurance company’s test results are not accurate? What if the insurance company did a sloppy investigation? You should always demand testing during a neutral evaluation process.
Blg Experienced At Neutral Evaluation
Attorney John Byrne has personally been involved in over a hundred neutral evaluations. Working to protect the homeowner’s best interests, John Byrne has successfully argued for additional in-depth testing, caused Neutral Evaluators to confirm sinkhole activity where insurance company testers had previously denied it, and forced insurance companies to do the right thing and properly cover their policyholders.
If you have filed a claim for sinkhole activity, regardless of whether your insurance company will cover you or not, you owe it to yourself to find out more information about your rights under Florida law. Neutral evaluation can be a tool used to help ensure your sinkhole claim is treated fairly and properly by insurance companies.
Be Careful Asking For Neutral Evaluation!
Florida law states that neutral evaluation reports are admissible in court! This means that the Neutral Evaluator’s opinion might be heard by a Judge or jury – and if the opinion is not favorable, it could hurt your claim! It may be smart to discuss your case and your options with an experienced sinkhole attorney such as John Byrne of the Byrne Law Group. John Byrne will discuss your specific facts and situations for FREE during an in-person or telephone phone consultation, and advise you of certain options you may have. Don’t go through the sinkhole process by yourself – make sure you have an experienced team on your side! Talk to the Byrne Law Group today by calling 813-413-6565 right now!