The photograph above depicts the Merlin Law Group “War Room” during a week-long arbitration last week. Michael Duffy, Ian Dankelman, Eric Dickey, and Kelly Kubiak were the winning Merlin Law Group team obtaining a $3.1 million award on Saturday. What a way to start off the year!

Arbitration is not appraisal. We have had policyholders and inexperienced lawyers from other law firms bring cases to us asking us to fix their bad arbitration awards because they treated the requirement of an arbitration like an appraisal.

Arbitrations require attorneys. It is almost like an informal trial. Evidence is presented after swearing in witnesses. It almost feels as if the proceeding is in a trial court. The proceedings are adversarial, and policyholders deserve to have excellent trial attorneys make the presentation because it is a lot more legally technical than an appraisal where the attorney’s trial skills do not matter.

The point of this post is to alert policyholders and public adjusters to determine whether the property insurance contract contains an arbitration provision versus an appraisal provision. We are finding more arbitration clauses within property insurance policies—especially commercial policies issued by surplus lines insurance companies. If the property insurance policy contains an arbitration clause, the proceeding differs vastly from appraisal and the case must be prepared as if it were going to trial rather than an informal appraisal.

Thought For The Day

All wars are follies, very expensive and very mischievous ones. In my opinion, there never was a good war or a bad peace. When will mankind be convinced and agree to settle their difficulties by arbitration?
—Benjamin Franklin