In the first blog of this series I gave a snap shot of Texas appraisal provisions and case law that shows Texas court rulings. This week I’ll give a snap shot of the appraisal provisions in Mississippi. Appraisal provisions in property insurance contracts require that the disputed value of property damage be determined through a neutral process of private adjustment or adjudication. Typically, the provisions require the insurer and the insured to appoint an appraiser to a panel, and the appointed appraisers pick a third referee (umpire) for the panel. However, resort to appraisal is available only when there is a dispute regarding the value of property lost. The purpose of the appraisal procedure is not to determine the cause of the loss, but instead to value the property loss covered under the policy. Here’s a quick snap shot of court cases in Mississippi:
Edwards v. Guideone Mut. Ins. Co., 2010 WL 1416473 (S.D. Miss. 2010): Following a dispute over valuation of personal property destroyed in a fire, the court held the insurer was entitled to demand appraisal that would bind both parties as to value of property.
Franklin Fire Ins. Co. v Brewer, 173 Miss 317, 159 So 545 (1935): Upon reversing judgment in favor of the insured in an action on fire insurance policies covering his building, the court held, inter alia, that where it was not required by either the policies or the appraisal agreement, notice to the insured of the intention of the appraisers to meet and appraise the loss was not necessary, the policies contemplating that the conclusions of the appraisers were to be reached not upon the testimony of witnesses, but from an inspection of the building.
Sunquest Properties, Inc. v. Nationwide Property and Cas. Co., 2009 WL 1609046 (S.D. Miss. 2009): The appraisal under policy covering the Hurricane Katrina claim is to determine amount of loss, not cause of loss or whether the loss is covered.
Jefferson Davis County School Dist. v. RSUI Indem. Co., 2009 WL 367688 (S.D. Miss. 2009): An appraisal clause is used to adjust disputes over the value of loss, and not for determination of cause of loss or coverage issues. As such, where issues of causation remain, request to order appraisal is denied until the causes of loss (wind/water) are established.