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Won a groundbreaking ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court requiring insurance appraisers to be fully unbiased and impartial.

Owners Ins. Co. v. Dakota Station II Condo. Ass'n, Inc., 443 P.3d 47 (Colo. 2019)
Date: 06.25.19

Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell (WTO) attorneys won a major victory in the Colorado Supreme Court for both the public and property insurers operating in Colorado. On behalf of Owners Insurance Company (Owners), the team prevailed on the controlling legal issue in the case: the meaning of the near-universal requirement in insurance policies that loss appraisers be “impartial.”

The case arose out of an approximate $3 million appraisal for hail damage to a condominium association insured by an Owners insurance policy. The policy’s appraisal provision required each party to select a “competent and impartial appraiser.” The trial court held that the provision did not require appraisers to be impartial in the same manner as an umpire or arbitrator. The Colorado Court of Appeals agreed, adding that appraisers may be “advocates for their respective parties” and may “favor one side more than another.”

Owners retained WTO to seek certiorari and argue the case in the Supreme Court. The high court rejected the court of appeals’ interpretation of the term “impartial,” stating that appraisers must “be unbiased, disinterested, and unswayed by personal interest” and cannot favor one side more than the other. This holding will have immediate and positive repercussions for both the insurance-buying public and insurers in Colorado by promoting fairness and accuracy in insurance appraisals.

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