Summary Judgment Granted for Insurer in Dispute over Appraisal Clause in NH Property Claim


Attorney Matthew Lindberg obtained summary judgment in favor of an insurer in a declaratory judgment action arising out of a first party property claim. Following discovery of water damage, the plaintiff property owner made a claim under the Businessowners Policy issued by the defendant insurer. As the parties disagreed on the amount of the damages, the insurer invoked the appraisal clause of the policy. In accordance with the appraisal clause, each party selected an appraiser and the two appraisers selected a third.

The policy requires that the appraisers “appraise the loss, stating separately actual cash value and loss to each item . . . .” The insurer’s appraiser submitted a single figure, representing the damage to the property. The property owner and his selected appraiser refused to accept the figure, arguing that the insurer’s appraiser was required to itemize damages to the components of the building.

As a matter of first impression in New Hampshire, the Court agreed with the insurer that the single number submitted by its appraiser satisfied the policy requirements. In ruling for the insurer, the Court referenced case law cited by the defendant from other jurisdictions, as well as the plaintiff’s own concession that the insurer’s position was the majority rule among states that confronted the issue. The Court also denied the plaintiff’s cross-motion for summary judgment on the issue of calculation of actual cash value.

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