I listened carefully to a speech, Point/Counter Point - Update on Appraisal and Insurable Interest Principles of Property Insurance Procedures for the Public Adjuster, given by attorneys Jeffrey Diamond and Wayne Taylor last Tuesday at the Georgia Association of Public Insurance Adjusters Spring Conference. Taylor commented that it is unnecessary to file a lawsuit to appoint an umpire. He merely sends a letter to a judge and asks for an umpire to be appointed.

My extra-sensory perception and projection must have been working really well because a couple of days later, I received an unsolicited email from attorney Tom Hamrick from El Paso, Texas regarding the same topic. He is giving a speech at the Texas Bar’s 12th Annual Advanced Insurance Law Course. According to Tom:

The topic is listed as “Appraisal / Adjustments of the Claim”—but in reality it is “Things You Might Want To Consider On Your Way To The Courthouse.” The presentation will cover subject matter jurisdiction and ethical considerations when asking the court to appoint an umpire.

I will not steal the thunder from Tom’s speech and his presentation, but the procedure for appointing an umpire may not require the need to file a lawsuit. A typical appraisal clause states:

If we and you disagree on the value of the property or the amount of the "loss," either may make written demand for an appraisal of the "loss." In this event, each party will select a competent and impartial appraiser. You and we must notify the other of the appraiser selected within twenty days of the written demand for appraisal. The two appraisers will select an umpire. If the appraisers do not agree on the selection of an umpire within 15 days, they must request selection of an umpire by a judge of a court having jurisdiction….

Nowhere does it state that a lawsuit must be filed to appoint an umpire. This is the topic of Hamrick’s speech, and I will let you know of his conclusions next month—including important ethical boundaries for lawyers doing so. However, Wayne Taylor sends letters and yours truly has done the same.

Positive Thought For The Day Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will. 

—Zig Ziglar