SJJ attorney Tim Johnson recently won a huge case at the Iowa Supreme Court in Walnut Creek v. Depositors that will allow policyholders to have their disputed insurance claims resolved outside of court through the quicker and less expensive insurance appraisal process.
The Walnut Creek case started as a disputed insurance claim. The insurance company claimed that hail had not damaged the property, but an insurance appraisal panel disagreed and awarded roughly $1.5 million of damage from the hailstorm at issue. At trial, the court disregarded the panel’s findings and set aside the appraisal award. SJJ appealed and the Court of Appeals overturned the trial court and upheld the appraisal panel’s findings. Then the insurance company appealed and the matter was heard before the Iowa Supreme Court.
At the Supreme Court, SJJ argued that appraisal panels’ determinations on the cause, scope, and amount of loss are binding on the insurance company. Like the Court of Appeals, the Iowa Supreme Court agreed with SJJ and held the “appraisers’ determination of the factual cause and monetary amount of the insured loss is binding on the parties.”
This is a huge victory for Iowa policyholders. Now, when an insurance company undervalues a claim, the policyholder will be able to resolve their dispute through the inexpensive appraisal process rather than court. It will speed up claims, allow policyholders to challenge their insurance company without spending tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, and it will level the playing field between policyholders and insurance companies. This is yet another in a line of several cases across the country where SJJ attorneys have changed insurance law to better protect policyholders.