Can An Appraisal Award Be Appealed? | Property Insurance coverage Protection Regulation Weblog

The title of this put up is a query usually requested by policyholders. The sensible reply in most states is that one ought to by no means anticipate to efficiently enchantment a choice by an appraisal panel. When you get a poor award from the panel, you higher be prepared to just accept it as a result of chances are high slim that it is going to be modified by a court docket. I mentioned this fourteen years in the past in Value determinations Higher Be Gained As a result of They’re Tough to Overturn–Even when Unfair in End result or Process.

Illinois is a bit totally different as a result of its case legislation permits a celebration to keep away from an appraisal award the place the award is non-binding. For instance, in Stratford West Owners Affiliation v. Nation Mutual Insurance coverage Co., 788 N.E.second 342, 343 (Unwell App. Ct. 2003), the court docket dominated:

The availability in query is actually an arbitration clause, . . . [subject to] the Uniform Arbitration Act . . . . Nevertheless, non-binding arbitration exists in Illinois as a way of resolving disputes, and neither the Act nor Illinois case legislation mandates that each one arbitration have to be binding. . . .

. . . With out language requiring binding arbitration, a coverage will likely be construed as an settlement to undergo non-binding arbitration. …Nothing within the insurance coverage contract indicated that, by taking part within the appraisal, Stratford was forfeiting its proper to hunt redress in court docket. We decline the chance to decrease the usual below which events relinquish their proper to sue. A celebration’s waiver of that proper have to be evident from the settlement.

On this case, the appraisal doesn’t function as a closing and binding decision of the events’ dispute over the quantity of the loss and doesn’t foreclose both celebration from sustaining an motion in a court docket of legislation. The plaintiff didn’t quit his proper to file swimsuit, and the trial court docket correctly struck Nation Mutual’s defenses.

Nevertheless, in an Illinois case determined final week,1 a federal choose dominated that the coverage phrase, “If there’s an appraisal, we [i.e., Defendant only] will nonetheless retain our proper to disclaim the declare,” nonetheless sure the events to the appraisal award with the next reasoning:      

Plaintiff argues that the appraisal provision is nonetheless non-binding as a result of it later states that if there’s an appraisal, ‘we [i.e., Defendant only] will nonetheless retain our proper to disclaim the declare.’ Plaintiff interprets this language to imply that, if Defendant can deny the declare, then the appraisal can’t be binding. Plaintiff misinterprets this language, conflating ‘declare’ with ‘appraisal.’ The contract between the events makes clear that an appraisal is proscribed to the valuation of the loss. …The appraisal doesn’t “reply questions of contract interpretation” or handle any variety of authorized or factual disputes that will give rise to a declare based mostly on Defendant’s denial of legal responsibility. …The binding appraisal provision merely signifies that ‘the insurer should still object to legal responsibility, however can’t object to the quantity assessed by the appraisal course of.’ CenTrust Financial institution, N.A. v. Montpelier U.S. Ins. Co., No. 12-cv-9233 (N.D. Unwell. Might 1, 2013).

Opposite to Plaintiff’s declare, the appraisal provision doesn’t enable Defendant to disclaim the declare if it doesn’t approve the appraisal consequence, fairly, the appraisal provision makes clear that the willpower of an appraisal quantity below that provision won’t affect Defendant’s proper to disclaim a declare below the phrases of the insurance coverage coverage. In different phrases, submitting to a binding appraisal course of doesn’t foreclose Defendant from denying the declare based mostly upon the provisions of the insurance coverage coverage, simply as submitting to the binding appraisal course of doesn’t foreclose Plaintiff from bringing swimsuit based mostly upon an improper denial of Plaintiff’s declare. It does, nonetheless, preclude both celebration from submitting swimsuit on the grounds that it disagrees with the result of the binding appraisal course of, which is the underlying foundation of Plaintiff’s first amended grievance.

The underside line is that appraisal could be a quick and more cost effective technique to resolve an insurance coverage declare. Nevertheless, policyholders and public adjusters ought to at all times work diligently to put proof in entrance of the complete appraisal panel to help the claimed quantity to keep away from a disastrous award.  A poor award attributable to any variety of preventable components often can’t be overcome in later proceedings.

When you’ve got questions on Illinois legislation property insurance coverage legislation, I counsel you contact our very skilled and profitable Merlin Regulation Group attorneys, Ed Eshoo and Christina Phillips, in our Chicago workplace.

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The most effective preparation for tomorrow is doing all of your finest at present.

—H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

1 Courtyards at Prairie Fields Condominium. Assoc., No. 1:22-cv-04854 (E.D. Unwell. Sept. 22, 2023).

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