This question about appraisers speaking with parties has been raised in a number of recent appraisal classes. Jonathon Held’s 2nd Edition of “The Appraisal Process: An Outline For Making Awards Useful and Final” has an answer to this question. I strongly urge those active in the appraisal process and property insurance claims to read it. Jonathon Held is a leader in the property insurance claims industry. When he speaks, people should listen.

Continue Reading Should Appraisers be Prevented from Speaking with Parties to the Appraisal?

Isn’t it great when people work collaboratively on a noble cause and grand success happens? 

Merlin Law Group attorneys Drew Houghton from Oklahoma and Dan Ballard from Redbank, New Jersey, worked with policyholder attorney Jason Liss from Michigan to obtain a significant ruling yesterday in the Southern District of New York.1

Continue Reading Blockbuster New York Appraisal Decision Impacts Causation and Period of Restoration Determinations

Mark the time and date, Chip Merlin and Jonathon Held have complete agreement upon something: Appraisers should not have to hold adjuster licenses. In a Claims Journal article, Viewpoint: Licensing Mandate for Appraisers Will Increase Costs, Held makes the following point regarding the unfounded legal position of the Florida Department of Financial Services that a policyholder appraiser has to have a public adjuster license:

This movement is not in the best interest of either insurers or policyholders to the extent that a state adjuster’s license requirement will significantly reduce or, in some cases, eliminate the pool of potential experts who are best served to evaluate the amount of loss. This will also likely result in increased costs to policyholders and insurers who will be forced to hire experts in addition to having a licensed adjuster act as appraiser.  

The process will be far better served by having competent and unbiased appraisers as panel members. Attempts to limit the most qualified potential appraisal panel members don’t seem to make reasonable sense and will only increase the likelihood of incorrect measurements of loss.

Continue Reading Jonathon Held Argues That Appraisers Should Not Have To Be Licensed Adjusters

The post last week, Louisiana Bill Proposes to Codify All the Rules of Appraisal, generated a lot of comments. I quickly read the bill, wrote my concern that the rules might not be as good as the common law, and asked for responses. Some comments, private and public, contained very interesting analysis. One public comment was not so nice to me. So, let me provide some background and updates because who can be an appraiser and if written rules will be applied to this process is one of the biggest issues of insurance dispute resolution. 

Continue Reading Who Should Be Appraisers to an Appraisal Panel? NAPIA Takes a Stand

While I have often said that appraisal is the Wild West of insurance claims resolution because there are no written rules, I suggest readers of this blog take a few minutes to read a bill pending in the Louisiana legislature1 and ponder the question I never thought I would say: 

Are We Better Off With No Written Rules When It Comes To Appraisal Other State Common Law? 

Continue Reading Louisiana Bill Proposes To Codify All The Rules of Appraisal

Insurance companies and their experts have a long and growing checklist of excuses not to pay hailstorm losses. Many of those excuses center on allegations that the observed damage was not caused by the particular hailstorm being adjusted. When insurers say the alleged hailstorm damage occurred outside the policy time frame, can the matter still be appraised? 

Continue Reading Can Appraisal Determine Which Hailstorm Caused the Damage?

The worst feeling is waiting for the end of your insurance claim…and then it is not the end. I think I would sometimes want a bullet to the head rather than to go back and back and back again. But karma will come around for those insurance defense attorneys charging by the hour and delaying claims payments. When appraisal panels make ambiguous findings, the insurance defense attorneys should send the appraisal panel a case of Cristal as a gift. When ambiguous awards are made, the only certain loser is the policyholder who signed up for the promise of good faith treatment, not for the delay. Those charging-by-the-hour insurance company attorneys are not giving the customer any good faith benefit of the doubt about the ambiguous award. It is all about getting the best deal they can for their client. And to be fair and balanced, that is their ethical obligation as attorneys, even if they personally feel otherwise.  

Continue Reading What Happens If The Appraisal Award Is Ambiguous?

This morning’s post, Insurance Defense Attorneys Trying To Be The New Appraisal Stars—And Pick Up More Business Doing So, noted that a leading Louisiana insurance defense attorney suggests that insurers should invoke appraisal as a technique to avoid Louisiana law requiring prompt and full payment following claim investigation. This may be a motive in a recent case for an insurer in Louisiana to fight off arguments of waiver to invoke appraisal.1

Continue Reading Can The Right To Appraisal Be Waived? A Louisiana Perspective Worthy of Study

First-party insurance defense lawyers are like beavers to a flowing river. If economic resolution of disputes is working well without litigation, they need to find anything to dam it up and slow it down. The extra work goes to them in the form of billable hours. Their actions increase their insurer clients’ economic profits and delayed float of money, which would otherwise go to policyholders.

Continue Reading Insurance Defense Attorneys Trying To Be The New Appraisal Stars—And Pick Up More Business Doing So