Many property insurance policies contain appraisal clauses. These clauses define a process for appraising the value of the damaged property, if the parties cannot agree. Common provisions call for each party to choose an appraiser. Those appraisers then chose a neutral third appraiser, called an umpire. If the parties or their appraisers cannot agree on an umpire, either party may petition a court to appoint one. Once the appraisers and umpire are chosen, they value the loss. If all do not agree on the value, the decision of nay two will control. The intent is to give the insurer and insured a simple, speedy, and fair means of deciding disputed values. This was set out in the 1938, Waco Court of Appeals opinion, Fire Ass’n of Philadelphia v. Ballard.
The 1994, San Antonio Court of Appeals case, Provincial Lloyds Ins. Co. v. Crystal City I.S.D., says that when the two appraisers do not agree, the umpire does not simply choose between them, rather, it is the duty of the umpire to ascertain and determine, in the exercise of his own judgment and as the result of his own investigation, the values of the disputed items.
Either party may seek specific enforcement of the appraisal clause, and the court will abate any pending lawsuit and compel the parties to submit to the appraisal process. In addition, an insured may recover consequential damages sustained as a result of the insurer’s failure to comply with the appraisal clause. This was made clear in the 1979, 14th Court of Appeals opinion, Standard Fire Ins. Co. v. Fraiman.