While the vast majority of insurance claims are settled quickly and effectively, sometimes the consumer and the insurer can’t agree. Luckily, there is a free, voluntary solution that offers both parties the opportunity to reach an agreement without going to court. It’s called the EAGLE (Ending Arguments Gently, Legally and Economically).
The EAGLE Mediation Program provides an opportunity for parties to settle insurance conflicts that would otherwise end up in court. It is a Conflict Settlement Program certified by the Oklahoma Supreme Court as part of the state’s Alternative Dispute Resolution System.
The primary purpose of the EAGLE Program is to help citizens and insurance companies, agents, or other licensees regulated by OID settle disputes early enough to avoid becoming embroiled in lawsuits.
The EAGLE Program reflects the Oklahoma Insurance Department’s goal of reducing the amount of litigation that ultimately costs policyholders money. Cutting down on the number of lawsuits benefits both companies and consumers. All parties who resolve their differences through mediation will be more satisfied than those who must endure the time and cost of the court system.
The Consumer Assistance Division of the Insurance Department receives more than 55,000 inquiries and complaints each year. The Oklahoma Insurance Department is constantly working to find new, creative ways to resolve disputes. Negotiation, mediation, and arbitration should be the primary methods of resolving conflicts. Litigation should remain available, but it should be the last resort.
Through the EAGLE Program, all parties would still maintain the right to go to court if they cannot reach an agreement through the mediation process.
Mediation is a just, effective, and confidential process where a neutral third party or mediator helps resolve disputes by reaching a negotiated, written agreement.
In order to participate in the EAGLE program, both opposing parties must agree to mediation and those participating in the mediation process must have full settlement authority.
Mediators for the EAGLE program will be trained mediators who have been approved by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to help unhappy consumers and insurance companies, agents, or other licensees regulated by OID work toward an agreement that puts their conflict to rest. The mediator is a neutral party and does not represent either of the parties involved, but rather advocates reaching a beneficial settlement for both parties.
The OID Consumer Assistance Division will initiate (open) an investigation regarding your insurance complaint (concern). We will contact the insurance company on your behalf for review and response. If we are unable to resolve the matter through the complaint process and EAGLE Mediation is an option, we will send a letter advising you how to move forward. The OID Legal Division then contacts both parties and sends each an Agreement to Mediate, which must be signed and returned to OID before the mediation can be set. OID works with the parties and the mediator to schedule the mediation at an agreed upon date and time. OID staff do not attend the mediation. If a negotiated settlement cannot be reached by the parties, the mediation is terminated, and the parties maintain the option of litigating their dispute.
- Mediation is fair, neutral, and confidential.
- Mediation is free and avoids costly court fees.
- Mediation saves time, often being completed in one meeting.
- A neutral third party assists the parties in reaching a voluntary, mutually
beneficial resolution where all parties have equal say in the process.
- Proceedings are informal and flexible.
One example in which EAGLE mediation can help is with first party claims regarding differences in value for property damage. Say an insured had a 2012 Ford F-150 that was stolen. They paid $27,000 for the vehicle, but the insurance company is only offering to pay $20,000 for the loss. An EAGLE mediator would listen to both sides and help them reach an agreeable settlement during that mediation session and with no costs to either party. All parties who resolve their differences through mediation are generally more satisfied than those who must endure the time and cost of the court system.
Oklahoma’s EAGLE program has served as a model for other programs since creation in 1999. It has been highly praised as an efficient mechanism for resolving claims disputes between policyholders and companies.
For more information about the EAGLE Mediation program or questions regarding any other insurance matter, contact Consumer Assistance Division at 1-800-522-0071.