When two parties in a property insurance appraisal are unable to reach an agreement on the amount of loss, each party selects “a competent, disinterested, and impartial appraiser, who has no direct or indirect financial interest in the claim.” 51 Roses Mill LLC as Assignee of Bridge33 Capital v. American Guarantee & Liability Ins. Co., 2023 WL 2454446 (Conn.Super.) The appraisers then attempt to agree on an umpire. Pursuant to Connecticut General Statute Section 52-411, an umpire is either selected through a written agreement by the appraisers or appointed by a judge. The written agreement is typically part of the appraisal provision in the insurance policy that outlines the process of appointing an umpire. If the appraisers cannot agree on an umpire, then a judge will select one that is “competent, disinterested, and impartial,” Id.
In 51 Roses Mill LLC as Assignee of Bridge33 Capital v. American Guarantee & Liability Ins. Co., Docket No. NNHCV216115479S, Attorney Brianna K. Robert successfully argued for our client’s proposed umpire. In this case, the appraisers for the respective parties were unable to agree upon an umpire so the parties made a joint application to the court to appoint one. Each party submitted a list of potential umpires and oral argument was held before the court.
Judge Elizabeth Jane Stewart cited to three criteria for appointing an umpire as addressed in Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. Pukhovich, slip opinion, Docket No. 3L20-CV-00341 (JAM) (D. Conn. May 5, 2020) (2020 WL 2124617) and Employers Insurance Co. of Wausau v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyds of London, slip opinion, Docket No. 09-CV-201-bbc (W.D. Wis. September 29, 2009) (2009 WL 3245562). The criteria used by these courts in appointing an umpire for an appraisal proceeding was, (1) experience with the appraisal of the type of loss at issue, (2) lack of bias, and (3) proximity to the location at issue and availability of time to devote to the project. In 51 Roses Mill LLC, the court appointed Mr. Kenneth Ursaki because Judge Stewart found, “he brings the most valuable experience to this matter, and he appears to be the only candidate proffered by either party who previously has served as an umpire and who has been selected by other judges of the Superior Court for that role.” 51 Roses Mill LLC as Assignee of Bridge33 Capital v. American Guarantee & Liability Ins. Co., Docket No. NNHCV216115479S
Connecticut courts consider factors such as impartiality, arbitration and umpire experience, exposure to the relevant law through prior positions, potential conflicts of interest, availability, and proximity when appointing an umpire. 51 Roses Mill LLC as Assignee of Bridge33 Capital v. American Guarantee & Liability Ins. Co., Docket No. NNHCV216115479S; Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. Pukhovich, Docket No. 3L20-CV-00341; Employers Insurance Co. of Wausau v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyds of London, Docket No. 09-CV-201-bbc.
Judge Stewart’s decision can be found here: https://civilinquiry.jud.ct.gov/DocumentInquiry/DocumentInquiry.aspx?DocumentNo=24337327