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The Florida Statutes

The 2023 Florida Statutes (including Special Session C)

Chapter 627
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F.S. 627.745
627.745 Mediation of claims.
(1)(a) In any claim filed with an insurer for personal injury in an amount of $10,000 or less or any claim for property damage in any amount, arising out of the ownership, operation, use, or maintenance of a motor vehicle, either party may demand mediation of the claim prior to the institution of litigation.
(b) The costs of mediation must be reasonable, and the insurer must bear all of the cost of conducting mediation conferences, except as otherwise provided in this section. If a policyholder fails to appear at the conference, the conference must be rescheduled upon the policyholder’s payment of the costs of a rescheduled conference. If the insurer fails to appear at the conference, the insurer must pay the policyholder’s actual cash expenses incurred in attending the conference if the insurer’s failure to attend was not due to a good cause acceptable to the department. An insurer is deemed to have failed to appear if the insurer’s representative lacks authority to settle the full value of the claim. The insurer shall incur an additional fee, paid to the mediator, for a rescheduled conference necessitated by the insurer’s failure to appear at a scheduled conference. The fees assessed by the department or administrator must include a charge necessary to defray the expenses of the department related to its duties under this section and must be deposited in the Insurance Regulatory Trust Fund. The department or administrator may request that the department suspend the insurer’s authority to appoint licensees if the insurer does not timely pay the per-mediation-event administrative fee. Mediation under this section is also available to litigants referred to the department by a county court or circuit court.
(c) Only one mediation may be requested for each claim, unless all parties agree to further mediation.
(2)(a) The department shall approve mediators to conduct mediations pursuant to this section. All mediators must file an application under oath for approval as a mediator.
(b) To qualify for approval as a mediator, an individual must meet one of the following qualifications:
1. Possess an active certification as a Florida Supreme Court certified circuit court mediator. A Florida Supreme Court certified circuit court mediator in a lapsed, suspended, sanctioned, or decertified status is not eligible to participate in the mediation program.
2. Be an approved department mediator as of July 1, 2014, and have conducted at least one mediation on behalf of the department within 4 years immediately preceding that date.
(3) The department shall deny an application, or suspend or revoke its approval, of a mediator to serve in such capacity if the department finds that one or more of the following grounds exist:
(a) Lack of one or more of the qualifications specified in this section for approval.
(b) Material misstatement, misrepresentation, or fraud in obtaining or attempting to obtain the approval.
(c) Demonstrated lack of fitness or trustworthiness to act as a mediator.
(d) Fraudulent or dishonest practices in the conduct of mediation or in the conduct of business in the financial services industry.
(e) Violation of any provision of this code or of a lawful order or rule of the department, violation of the Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, or aiding, instructing, or encouraging another party in committing such a violation.

The department may adopt rules to administer this subsection.

(4) The department shall adopt by rule a motor vehicle claims insurance mediation program to be administered by the department or its designee. The department may also adopt special rules that are applicable in cases of an emergency within the state. The rules shall be modeled after practices and procedures set forth in mediation rules of procedure adopted by the Supreme Court. The rules must include:
(a) Reasonable requirements for processing and scheduling of requests for mediation.
(b) Provisions governing who may attend mediation conferences.
(c) Selection of mediators.
(d) Criteria for the conduct of mediation conferences.
(e) Right to legal counsel.
(f) Controls of costs and expenses of mediation.
(5) The department may designate an entity or person to serve as an administrator to carry out any of the provisions of this section and may take this action by means of a written contract or agreement.
(6) Disclosures and information divulged in the mediation process are not admissible in any subsequent action or proceeding relating to the claim or to the cause of action giving rise to the claim. A person demanding mediation under this section may not demand or request mediation after a suit is filed relating to the same facts already mediated.
History.s. 42, ch. 90-119; s. 40, ch. 91-201; ss. 86, 114, ch. 92-318; s. 76, ch. 98-199; s. 31, ch. 2014-123; s. 79, ch. 2015-2; s. 37, ch. 2023-144.