Minnesota litigator, Ed Beckmann of the Edina Minnesota law firm of Hellmuth & Johnson, contributes the following pointer to Minnesota Litigator:
Storm season is upon us in Minnesota. Property owners are making claims with their insurance companies, and insurers are offering adjustments to settle the claim. A homeowner may wonder what he or she can do if the adjustment from the insurer seems unfair.
One way to resolve a dispute with an insurer is appraisal. Appraisal is like arbitration in that it is an alternative to filing a lawsuit. Appraisal can and should be used by property owners to achieve a fair resolution of their storm damage claim. Appraisal is a process for deciding the value of a storm damage claim. The process is found in every Minnesota homeowners policy as it is required by Minnesota Statute Section 65A.01 subd. 3.
A recent Supreme Court opinion strengthens the appraisal process. It is now clear that appraisers can decide, with finality, what caused the damage to your property. Insurers often dispute if the damage was caused by poor maintenance, a construction defect, or some other storm unrelated to the insured storm. The Supreme Court has held that causation issues like this should be decided through appraisal.
This decision is important for homeowners as the cost of appraisal is far less than the cost of litigating in court.