In Khorsand v. Liberty Mutual Fire Ins. Co. (No. B280273, filed 2/27/18), a California appeals court affirmed an appraisal award favorable to a homeowners insurer, ruling that it was improper to admit as evidence in opposition to a petition to confirm the award a declaration from the policyholders’ appraiser, except for the limited purpose of showing improprieties in the appraisal, bias, partiality or other improper conduct.
The homeowners had a pipe leak and submitted a claim. The insurer responded to an estimate from the owners’ adjuster by retaining an expert and paying an undisputed amount that was significantly less. Eleven months later the owners had upper deck damage and submitted another claim. Relying on the same expert, the insurer paid another undisputed amount significantly less than the owner’s estimate. The owners requested appraisal but the insurer denied the request, contending that the dispute was over coverage and outside the scope of appraisal.
The owners’ petition for appraisal was granted, with the court ordering separate listing of items the insurer disputed regarding coverage or causation. The appraisal panel issued an award stating that total damage was $132,293, of which $96,530 was contested by the insurer. The insurer filed a petition to confirm the award, which was granted despite the fact that the owners’ appraiser had refused to sign it.
Reprinted courtesy of Valerie Moore, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP and Christopher Kendrick, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP