A recent case1 had the following fact pattern of facts and findings:
1. Public adjuster Erick Arias of Universal Loss Consultants, Inc., was hired as a loss consultant for the Plaintiffs with respect to the subject insurance claim.
2. Erick Arias produced an estimate for the Plaintiffs prior to the invocation of appraisal.
3. There exists a fiduciary relationship between Erick Arias and the Plaintiffs through the Plaintiffs’ counsel.
4. It is unreasonable to believe that Erick Arias would second-guess his initial estimate at appraisal.
5. There is too great a likelihood that neither Erick Arias, nor any other person affiliated with Universal Loss Consultants, Inc. could be disinterested for the purposes of appraisal as required by the appraisal provision of the subject policy.
State Farm’s policy called for a disinterested appraiser and the holding is not surprising:
1. Defendant’s Motion to Compel Appraisal with a Disinterested Appraiser and Abate Litigation is GRANTED;
2. This action is abated pending the completion of the appraisal process;
3. Neither Erick Arias, nor any other person affiliated with Universal Loss Consultants, Inc., nor any person affiliated with CV Perez Construction Corp., are disinterested as required by the policy.
4. Plaintiffs have thirty (30) days from the date of this Order to appoint an appraiser not affiliated with either Universal Loss Consultants, Inc. or CV Perez Construction Corp.;
The finding of this cases is a little different because the public adjuster was hired as an estimator by the attorney for the policyholder and not a public adjuster. It certainly raises the question if the insurance company estimator is disinterested as well.
I have no idea how an estimator can be a “fiduciary” of the policyholder because the policyholder’s attorney hired the public adjuster as an estimator. I plan on researching this issue and commenting on it in the future because an expert estimator is not a fiduciary.
I would suggest readers of this blog also read:
Thought For The Day
All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.
1 Santiago v. State Farm Florida Ins. Co., No. 2019-CA-007154-O, 27 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 882a (Fla. Cir. Ct. [Orange County] Nov. 14, 2019).