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New Brunswick Court stresses the need for cooperation and collegiality in appraisal under the Insurance Act

Allstate Insurance Company of Canada v Stephen Robb, 2023 NBKB 212 (CanLII)

Reading time: 3 minutes (approx.)

By: Weston McArthur

The Applicant, Allstate Insurance Company, brought an application for the appointment of an umpire pursuant to section 107(5) of the New Brunswick Insurance Act. The Respondent, Stephen Robb, opposed the application on two grounds. Justice Bourque wrote at paragraph 2 that “The Respondent, Stephen Robb, opposes the application on the basis that there is no disagreement between the parties which has triggered the appraisal process under Section 107 of the Act and alternatively, the individuals proposed by the Applicant are not acceptable.”

The crux of this application was that the parties could not agree on an umpire. Both sides went back-and-forth, eventually prompting the Applicant to file its Notice of Application.

Justice Bourque quickly turned her attention to the policy behind the law on the appraisal process contained in the Insurance Act. She quoted from paragraphs 15 and 16 of Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company v Falahatparvar, 2023 ONSC 1355:

“15 The purpose of the appraisal process under the Insurance Act is to provide an easy, expeditious, and cost-effective means for the settlement of claims for indemnity under insurance policies: Desjardins General Insurance Group v. Campbell, 2022 ONCA 128 at para 27.

16 The process is designed to be collaborative and not adjudicative. In Desjardins General Insurance Group v. Campbell, at para. 29, the Ontario Court of Appeal approved Perell J.’s description of the process in Northbridge General Insurance Corp. v. Ashcroft Homes-Capital Hall Inc., 2021 ONSC 1684, at para. 29: …” 

Justice Bourque noted the great hostility between the parties, which she blamed for the parties’ inability to select and umpire and get on with the appraisal process. Justice Bourque did note that the Respondent’s concerns with respect to the cost and experience of the umpire were valid, as the appraisal in this case appeared to be quite simple.

Ultimately, Justice Bourque exercised the Court’s discretion and decided that the parties were to pick an umpire within 30 days, failing which the parties would return to Court. The Court would then consider the suggested umpires from each side and make a decision.

Case: 2023 NBKB 212 (CanLII) | Allstate Insurance Company of Canada v. Stephen Robb | CanLII

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