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Property in 60 Seconds: Texas and Florida Supreme Courts Weigh In On Appraisal Issues

The Supreme Courts for both Florida and Texas issued opinions addressing appraisal in those jurisdictions.
The Texas Supreme Court in Rodriguez v. Safeco held that an insurer’s full payment of an appraisal award plus statutory interest precludes the recovery of attorney’s fees in an action under Chapter 542A of the Texas Prompt Payment of Claims Act. The court reasoned that because the insurer paid all the amounts owed under the policy there will never “be an amount to be awarded in the judgment to the claimant for the claimant’s claim under the insurance policy.” This decision reinforces the sensible rationale that full payment of amounts due under a policy for property damage should prevent an insurer’s liability for an alleged breach of the policy.

The Texas Supreme Court’s opinion can be found here.

In Am. Coastal Ins. Co. v. San Marco Villas, Florida’s high court ruled that trial courts have discretion to determine the order in which appraisal and disputes over coverage are resolved. Here, there was a dispute over the amount of loss appropriate for appraisal and a denial of coverage based upon material misrepresentations. The court held that, because the policy’s appraisal provision gives the insurer the right to deny the claim even if there is an appraisal, a trial court can decide whether the matter should proceed to appraisal even prior to deciding the coverage issues.  A significant aspect to this holding is the clear recognition that coverage disputes and disputes over the amount of loss present separate issues, with coverage disputes not being appropriate for appraisal.

The Florida Supreme Court’s opinion can be found here.

Appraisal remains an important and rapidly evolving issue across the United States. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact any member of HKR’s team.

This post was originally published through Horst Krekstein & Runyon’s Property in 60 Seconds Newsletter. If you would like to receive future copies of that newsletter, please contact Sean Dever at sdever@hkr.law.