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Case Law: Defining “Disinterested Appraiser” Under State Farm Policy

Pekar Law, P.A. Dec. 28, 2023

Understanding the ins and outs of your insurance policies can be quite a challenge. One concept that often raises questions is the term "disinterested appraiser".  

A disinterested appraiser, as defined under State Farm policy, is an individual who is unbiased and impartial, with no financial interest in the outcome of the appraisal. This person's role is to assess the value of a claimant's loss in the event of a dispute between the insurer and the insured. 

Examples of a Disinterested Appraiser

There are various scenarios in which a disinterested appraiser may be called upon to evaluate an insurance claim. Some common examples include: 

  • Property damage claims: In the event of a natural disaster or accident, an insurance company may send in a disinterested appraiser to assess the damage and determine the appropriate amount of compensation. This is to ensure that the policyholder receives fair and unbiased evaluation of their losses. 

  • Auto insurance claims: If there is a dispute over the value of a totaled vehicle, a disinterested appraiser may be brought in to assess its worth. This can also apply to disputes over repair costs or other damages related to an auto accident. 

  • Personal injury claims: In cases where there is a disagreement over the extent of injuries sustained or the amount of compensation owed, a disinterested appraiser may be called upon to evaluate the medical records and provide an impartial assessment. 

The Case of Parrish v. State Farm: A Closer Look at the Role of Disinterested Appraisers

In the realm of insurance policies and appraisals, the case of Parrish v. State Farm serves as a critical reference point. This case delved into the definition and role of a "disinterested appraiser", bringing to light the importance of impartiality and the potential conflicts of interest that can arise when an appraiser is compensated based on the outcome of a claim. 

George Keys, president of Keys Claims Consultants, Inc. (KCC), a homeowner's public adjusting firm, was set to be compensated on a contingency basis for his adjusting services. He was initially allowed by the trial court to serve as Parrish's disinterested appraiser, given that the arrangement was disclosed to State Farm. 

However, this decision didn't hold up in higher courts. The Second District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's decision, stating that Keys couldn't serve as Parrish's disinterested appraiser. The Supreme Court affirmed the Second District's decision, ruling that due to his pecuniary interest in the outcome of the claim, Keys couldn't qualify as a "disinterested" appraiser. 

This case underscores the necessity of a disinterested appraiser in insurance disputes. It's clear from this case that an appraiser with a financial stake in the outcome of the claim cannot be considered "disinterested". This principle has profound implications for how claims are handled throughout Western and Central Florida, including Orlando, Sarasota, Fort Myers, and Lakeland. 

The ruling in Parrish v. State Farm adds another layer of clarity to the role and definition of a disinterested appraiser under State Farm policy, and indeed, any insurance policy. It's a reminder that the appraiser's role is to evaluate the value of a claimant's loss without any financial interest in the results of the appraisal. Their impartiality is key to ensuring a fair process. 

Qualifications of a Disinterested Appraiser 

Not just anyone can serve as a disinterested appraiser. They must possess certain qualifications to ensure they are truly unbiased and capable of providing an accurate assessment. Some common qualifications include: 

  • Education and training in the field relevant to the appraisal: This could be in areas such as property damage, auto insurance, or personal injury. 

  • Professional experience: A disinterested appraiser may have a background working for insurance companies, law firms, or other organizations related to the insurance industry. 

  • Licensing and certifications: Depending on the jurisdiction, a disinterested appraiser may be required to hold certain licenses or certifications to perform appraisals. 

Importance of a Disinterested Appraiser 

Having a disinterested appraiser involved in an insurance claim can provide several benefits for both parties involved. These include: 

  • Fair and unbiased assessment: With no financial stake in the outcome, a disinterested appraiser can provide an impartial evaluation of the claim, leading to a fair resolution. 

  • Speedier resolution: By having a third party involved in the appraisal process, disputes can be resolved more quickly without the need for lengthy negotiations or legal action. 

  • Cost savings: In cases where there is disagreement between the insurer and insured, bringing in a disinterested appraiser can save both parties the cost of hiring their own appraisers or going to court over the issue. 

The Role of Legal Guidance 

The interpretation and application of case law can be complex, especially when dealing with intricate insurance policies. Attorney Jeff Pekar's deep understanding of such intricate case laws makes him a reliable ally for clients dealing with insurance claim disputes. His commitment to serving clients throughout Western and Central Florida ensures they have an informed advocate by their side, equipped to handle the complexities of interpreting and applying case law. 

Whether it's interpreting the role of a "disinterested appraiser" or any other legal challenge, Attorney Jeff Pekar's experience, and dedication make him a trusted ally in the pursuit of justice. It's always advisable to seek professional legal advice when dealing with such matters, ensuring that you have a knowledgeable advocate on your side.