Need a Referee for a M.G.L. chapter 175 § 99 Reference Panel?
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Attorneys at The Jacobs Law are experienced with insurance reference hearings and are available at far more reasonable rates than what are typically charged. STOP spending $450 or even $300/hour on high-priced insurance industry careerists, mediators or arbitrators. M.G.L. chapter 175 § 99 does NOT require referees to be certified as a mediator or arbitrator.
SAVE your and your client’s money by submitting the names of our experienced attorneys as part of the three (3) proposed referees. The Jacobs Law LLC’s attorneys are familiar with homeowner and condominium insurance claims for property damage as well as the MGL ch.175 sec.99 Reference process!
Read below and then complete the form at the end or email CONTACTUS@THEJACOBSLAW.COM and a Referee Candidate from The Jacobs Law, LLC will contact you as soon as possible.
ABOUT THE M.G.L. chapter 175 § 99 REFERENCE PANEL PROCESS
If you are a homeowner or condominium owner who has made a claim for property damage or loss to your home or condo, or an attorney representing such a client, you should become familiar with Massachusetts General Law Chapter 175, Section 99 (See MGL ch.175 sec.99). The essence of this statute is, by law, incorporated into Massachusetts Homeowners’ Insurance Policies; but the statute itself is not well known or understood by homeowners or attorneys.
MGL ch.175 sec.99 requires any dispute over the value of a loss to be submitted to a 3 Person Reference Panel. Given that the deadline to sue your homeowners’ insurance company is two (2) years from the date of loss, if you dispute the value the insurance company has placed on your loss, you MUST move quickly to request a Reference Panel. Some courts in Massachusetts have also ruled that where a dispute over coverage exists (i.e. the insurer simply denies coverage for the loss), a Reference Panel is still required — these courts have reasoned that a denial of coverage is like saying the value of the claim is zero. An unsuspecting attorney unfamiliar with MGL c.175 sec. 99 who files suit against the insurer close to the statute of limitations deadline without proceeding to the 3 Person Reference Panel first, may find their case dismissed without any further recourse or options against the insurance company.
Once you request the Reference Panel it tolls (or pauses) the statute of limitations period. In other words, the clock stops ticking so long as the Reference Panel process is in motion. Be forewarned through, if you send a request to an insurance company just a few days before the deadline to sue, courts in Massachusetts have held in some circumstances that the Reference Panel request was merely used to delay or extend the deadline to file suit, and the homeowner has been barred from suit forever.
The process works like this: The insured (homeowner or condominium owner) who disputes the value or denial of coverage must send a request to the insurer (the insurance company) requesting the matter be submitted to a 3 Person Reference Panel pursuant to MGL ch.175 sec.99. The insurer then has 10 days to submit 3 choices to the insured. The insured then has 10 days to select 1 and submit 3 choices to the insurer. Once both the insurer and insured have selected a referee, those 2 referees select a third. (See MGL ch.175 sec.100) The insurer and insured split the costs of all 3 referees.
The 3 Referees for the Reference Panel can essentially be any uninterested individual, residing in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, over the age of 18 and competent (i.e. not legally mentally incompetent). However, you likely do not want to select your next door neighbor or 3rd cousin or best friend from high school. You want a Referee who knows the Reference Panel process and is familiar with the issues of value and coverage that arise. Many lawyers hire seasoned mediators or arbitrators for this, but there are two key problems with that – FIRST, they’re expensive and can run you $400+ per hour EACH. For a day-long, 8 hour session of 3 Referees, that (400x3x8)/2 = $4800 each for the insurer and insured. And neither the insurer or insured can collect that money back from the other regardless of who wins or loses. SECOND, many of them do a lot of business with insurance companies and have long friendly relationships with the insurer and/or insurance company attorneys.
The Jacobs Law LLC has a solution to this dilemma: Include one or more of our experienced attorneys in the three (3) referees you must propose for your MGL ch.175 sec.99 Reference Panel Referee for selection by the insurance company. Once we review the specific facts and circumstances, we may authorize you to use our names. You only incur a fee after an attorney from The Jacobs Law is selected and begins to perform services related to the MGL ch.175 sec.99 Reference Panel process.
To make an inquiry, please complete the form below or email us at CONTACTUS@THEJACOBSLAW.COM