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Court Must Agree When Parties Agree to Appraisal

Barry Zalma | January 19, 2024

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Satellite view of a hurricane

In an insurance dispute stemming from Hurricane Ian, the parties agreed that their case should go to appraisal to determine the extent of the loss.

The court held that when an insurance policy contains an appraisal provision, "the right to appraisal is not permissive but is instead mandatory, so once a demand for appraisal is made, 'neither party has the right to deny that demand.'" McGowan v. First Acceptance Ins. Co., Inc., 411 F. Supp. 3d 1293, 1296 (M.D. Fla. 2019) (quoting United Cmty. Ins. Co. v. Lewis, 642 So.2d 59, 60 (Fla. 3d Dist. Ct. App. 1994)).

Like other stipulations about dispute resolution, the court must enforce contractual appraisal provisions by nondispositive order. Therefore, in Buena Vista of Deep Creek Condo. Ass'n, Inc. v. Clear Blue Specialty Ins. Co., No. No. 2:23-cv-957-SPC-KCD, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 210003 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 27, 2023), the court concluded that because appraisal would not dispose of any claims or defenses, the court did not treat the motion to compel appraisal as one for summary judgment.

Since the parties agreed that appraisal was appropriate, their request was granted. Further, the parties requested a stay during appraisal, which was also granted because the Hurricane Ian Scheduling Order contemplated such relief if the parties agreed that appraisal was appropriate. Thus, the case was stayed.

As a result, all deadlines and events in the Hurricane Ian Scheduling Order were suspended. The parties agreed that the appraisal panel must itemize the awarded damages by coverage, to be accompanied by a supporting estimate. Even though the parties cited no contractual provision that required such an award, because the parties agreed, their request was granted.


The appraisal condition of a first-party property policy is an extra-judicial means of resolving disputes between an insurer and an insured about the amount of loss. Since the parties agreed that appraisal was an appropriate manner of resolving that limited dispute, they moved to stay the action in hopes that the appraisal result would allow the parties to resolve all their differences. The court understood this and issued orders to fulfill the agreement of the parties.

© 2024 Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE

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