Insurance Policy Decision Following the Loss of Irma

When Lazaraly Guzman and Larry Rosado’s dwelling was damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017, they notified their insurance provider, American Security Insurance, Co., and filed a claim.

From the start, the insureds and representatives of the insurance company could not agree on the cost of the damage from the storm, so Guzman and Rosado started the litigation process. When both parties agreed to an appraisal per the insurance policy’s instructions, the court stayed the case until an award was issued. After both parties failed to agree on a neutral umpire for the appraisal, the court appointed Lawrence Leiby to oversee the appraisal.

The disagreement centered on an email exchange between the appraisers for each party and Leiby. Leiby initially circulated an award amount of $121,800 to both parties’ appraisers. Court documents allege that the appraiser representing American Security Insurance, Co. objected to the amount and asked for an itemized list that detailed the damage. Leiby then sent a revised figure to both parties: $90,704. American Security Insurance, Co. wanted to pay the lower amount.

Daniel J. Rodriguez, representing Guzman and Rosado, maintained that the language of the insurance policy and the emailed agreement between his clients’ appraiser and Leiby proved otherwise. Because the appraiser for Guzman and Rosado had already agreed to and signed off on the original amount, Rodriguez asked the judge to uphold Leiby’s original award.

The court sided with the plaintiffs, explaining in its decision that the American Security Insurance policy stated that a decision agreed upon by any two panel members was binding. Because the panel comprised both appraisers and Leiby, the neutral umpire, the original award became binding when the appraiser for the plaintiffs signed off on the initial amount put forward by Leiby.

Daniel J. Rodriguez and the attorneys at RRBH Law want all insurance policyholders to know that insurance litigation is an avenue of recourse they can pursue if they feel they have a right to compensation other than what their insurance providers offer.

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