Challenge to Appraisal Clause in Homeowner’s Insurance Policy

Feb 22, 2016 | News

Knoxville managing partner Clinton J. Woodfin secured a motion for summary judgment on behalf of his clients last week in the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The case involved an insurance claim for storm-related damage to the property of the plaintiffs, and the judgment will allow all insurers whose policies contain appraisal clauses to know that Tennessee will continue to enforce them as they are intended.

In that case, the homeowner and insurer could not agree on the value of the loss. The insurer, Clint’s client, raised the fact of the appraisal clause in the insurance policy, but the homeowners challenged the enforcement and validity of that clause, alleging it was in effect “arbitration” and therefore not binding. The attorney for the homeowners claimed the appraisal provision did not comply with the Uniform Arbitration Act (TCA Sec. 29-50-302(a)), which requires agreements to be arbitrated over issues relating to property used as residences. The trial court granted the insurer summary judgment, which was affirmed by the Tennessee Court of Appeals in all respects.

Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney wrote separately to state that, in his opinion, the Rye standard for summary judgment announced by the Tennessee Supreme Court is intended to be applied retroactively. Under either standard, Spicer Rudstrom effectively rebuked the challenge to the appraisal clause.

Clint, an AV-Preeminent rated attorney with Martindale-Hubbell, focuses his practice on insurance defense, insurance subrogation, business and commercial litigation, premises liability, products liability, real estate and construction litigation, workers’ compensation, employment practices litigation, and automobile liability. He has represented major corporations, insurance carriers, local businesses, and individuals in all phases of litigation. He is the chair of the firm’s Trucking and Transportation practice.