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The Umpire Process.

A typical insurance contract will provide the following language:

“APPRAISAL- If you and we fail to agree on the amount of loss, either one can demand that the amount of the  loss be set by appraisal. If either makes a written demand for appraisal, each shall select a competent, independent appraiser. Each shall notify the other of the appraiser’s identity within 20 days of receipt of the written demand. The two appraisers shall then select a competent, impartial Umpire. If the two appraisers are unable to agree upon an Umpire within 15 days, you or we can ask a judge of a court of record in the state where the residence premises is located to select an Umpire. The appraisers shall then set the amount of the loss. If the appraisers fail to agree within a reasonable time, they shall submit their differences to the Umpire. Written agreement signed by any two of these three shall et the amount of the loss”.

With insurance claims, an articulated process must be followed before alternative dispute resolutions can be considered. First, the carrier has the right to work up its estimate as does the property owner. The carrier will employ an independent adjuster while the property owner may utilize a public adjuster. Together, they will try agree on a monetary resolution of the claim. When the appraisers reach an impasse, an Umpire must be utilized. Most appraisers maintain a roster of Umpires they have learned to trust to be fair and impartial and with the input of the claimant and the carrier, each side usually submits a list of appraisers to the other side. Many times, the appraisers cannot agree on an Umpire and a circuit court judge may be called upon to select an Umpire, pursuant to the appraisal provision in an insurance contract.

As with an arbitration panel, the Umpire and the two appraisers jointly are considered a “panel.” When at least two of the three panel members agree on the appropriate award, the matter is deemed resolved, and an award is issued.

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