Here is a Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division opinion issued by Justice Reed O’Conner. This opinion echoes similar opinions being issued in the Federal Courts in Texas. The style of this case is, Twanya Braden v. Allstate Vehicle and Property Insurance Company.
Braden reported a claim for hail and windstorm damage to her house to Allstate. A dispute arose as to the damages amount and appraisers set the amount of loss at $9,005.92. Allstate had made a previous payment and after taking into account the deductible, Allstate paid the balance.
Allstate moved for summary judgment based on the claim having been properly paid pursuant to the appraisal amount and thus, there were no other issues for the Court to decide.
Texas courts have repeatedly rejected breach of contract claims when an insurer timely paid an appraisal award. Appraisal awards made pursuant to the provisions of an insurance contract are binding and enforceable, and every reasonable presumption will be indulged to sustain an appraisal award. Courts will disregard the award only if the award was (1) made without authority, (2) the result of fraud, accident, or mistake, or (3) not in substantial compliance with the insurance policy. The effect of an appraisal award is to estop one party from contesting the issue of damages in a suit on the insurance contract, leaving only the question of liability. By payment of the full amount of the appraisal award, the insurer complies with every requirement of the contract, and it cannot be found to be in breach.
Layers for Braden argued some evidentiary points that at first seemed plausible but disregarded the requirements of the evidentiary requirements when the evidence is part of a motion for summary judgment. Thus, the Court overruled Braden’s evidentiary objections.
Braden was unable to provide the Court with any reason to disregard the appraisal award according to any of the necessary ways of doing so as outline above.
For the reasons stated here and in the opinion, the Court granted Allstate’s motion.