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In Florida, DFS mediation refers to the mediation process administered by the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS). It typically involves disputes related to insurance claims and is often used when there is a disagreement between an insurance company and a policyholder.

On the other hand, an appraisal is used when the claim is not denied but you and your insurance company cannot agree on the actual damage amount. Generally, an appraisal addresses the value of the loss, not the causation. In other words, the purpose of the assessment is not to challenge or dispute what caused the loss but instead the financial value of the damage.

Differences Between DFS Mediation And Appraisal

Both mediation and appraisal are means of alternative dispute resolution to keep cases out of court. They aim to facilitate communication, negotiation, and resolution between the parties involved. While both processes are similar, there are differences between the two. 

One significant difference between appraisal and mediation is that the appraisal results are usually binding, while the mediation results are not. DFS mediation is often used early in the dispute resolution process for insurance claims. Mediation can be used when your claim is denied and there is a disagreement on the value of the loss. 

DFS Mediation

DFS Mediation

DFS mediation is an alternative procedure for resolving disputed property insurance Mediation is between the homeowner and the insurance company, with a neutral mediator presiding over the session. 

In the first letter you receive from your insurer after reporting a claim, the insurance company is required by law to inform you of the DFS mediation program for residential property claims. They must also provide you with a copy of the DFS mediation pamphlet outlining the program and provide a phone number for requesting to participate. 

If your claim is denied or underpaid, you should first contact the DFS to schedule a mediation. If you suffered some residential or commercial property damage and have filed a property damage claim, you have the right to participate in the program.


Florida provides property owners with the right to have a DFS mediation. However, the right, requirement, or option to have an appraisal can vary between insurance companies and policies. Many Florida property insurance policies include an insurance appraisal provision. Your policy likely consists of an appraisal clause telling you your appraisal rights.

DFS Mediation Process & Cost

The DFS mediation process proceeds similarly to any legal mediation process. You are not required to bring an attorney, but we recommend you consult one. If you hire an attorney for the mediation, you must notify the insurer beforehand. Unlike most civil mediations, in which the cost may be charged to one or both parties, the insurance company is responsible for the cost of DFS mediation.

At the mediation, each side will get the opportunity to present their evidence and to dispute the other party’s claim. The mediator will often ask various questions throughout the process. Once each side presents their case, the mediator may speak to each separately to encourage them to compromise.

Remember, the mediation is not legally binding at this time, and you should not feel pressured to accept a monetary amount you think is unfair. However, if you do reach an agreement, the case will be settled, and you will wait for your check. 

If you do not settle, your next step is to file a formal lawsuit against the insurance company for damages. 

How Is Appraisal Different?

One of the most significant differences in the appraisal process is that you—the insured—essentially give up control of the outcome. It is now up to the appraiser, and not you, to determine the value of damages. Another stark difference is in who is responsible for the cost. While the insurance company pays for DFS mediation, each side is typically responsible for the cost of paying their respective appraiser in an appraisal. The costs can quickly climb into thousands of dollars, so it is essential to be mindful of potential costs when disputing the value of your claim. For instance, if you and your insurance company are not too far apart in valuation, it may not be financially savvy to proceed with the appraisal process, as you could spend the difference in hiring an appraiser. 

DFS Mediation Attorneys

At Arias & Abbass Your Attorneys, we are a boutique law firm specializing in providing personalized individual attention to our clients. If you are facing a dispute with your insurance company over a property claims settlement in the Miami-Dade County area, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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