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Florida Property Insurance Disputes: What is an Umpire?


Imagine that your Broward County home suffered serious damage in a midsummer thunderstorm, which is certainly not an uncommon occurrence in South Florida. Fortunately, you have property insurance. Even better, your damage is covered under the terms of the policy. However, this still leaves open a very important question: How much does the insurance company owe you?

The answer is not always clear. Of course, as a homeowner you want to recover fair compensation for every dollar you are owed under the terms of your insurance coverage. The insurance company has a legal duty to pay you full compensation. Indeed, under Florida’s Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights, insurance companies must pay homeowners the full value for their coverage without any unreasonable delay.

Yet, the insurance company also has a business interest to pay policyholders as little as possible. Sometimes these obligations and interests clash with one another and disputes arise. To settle a dispute over the value of property damages, an appraiser will often be brought in to assess the situation. When your appraiser and the insurance company’s appraiser come to different conclusions, an umpire may be selected to settle the issue. 

The Umpire is the (Supposedly) Neutral Party

Both parties are allowed to bring in their own appraiser. You can hire an appraiser and so can the insurance company. To ensure fair, efficient settlements, an umpire may need to be brought in as a third appraiser, to settle the situation. The umpire is supposed to be a neutral third party who can give a qualified but disinterested assessment of the value of the property damage. To effectively serve as an umpire, an individual must be:

  • Fully knowledgeable about the subject matter of the dispute;
  • Completely disinterested in the results;
  • Comfortable with the appraisal process; and
  • Qualified to make a fair and just assessment.

Choosing the Umpire  

The selection of an umpire is one of the most important parts of any property insurance claim. Should there be a dispute, you need to have a fair, qualified umpire, so that they insurance company is not able to take advantage of the situation. Generally, the selection of an umpire is done in accordance with a process that is established in the written language of the insurance policy in question.

As a general rule, most property insurance policies set up a system whereby the two party-appointed appraisers work together to pick the umpire. To make this process work better, typically the two party-appointed appraisers will also spend some time working together to narrow the issues at stake so that the umpire’s task is clear and is agreed upon by both parties.

Was Your Florida Property Insurance Claim Denied?  

The dedicated property insurance claims attorneys at Geyer Fuxa Tyler are standing by, ready to help. We have extensive experience handling all aspects of property insurance claims, including appraisal disputes. To learn more about what we can do for you, please contact us today to set up your free case review. We represent homeowners in the city of Fort Lauderdale and throughout Broward County.


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