We have over 25 years of experience representing insurance companies and serving as a referee in Massachusetts’s reference proceedings. Most property insurance policies provide for resolution as to the amount of loss through an appraisal process. In Massachusetts, that process is referred to as a reference proceeding. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 175, § 99, which is incorporated by operation of law into property insurance covering the risk of fire, mandates:
In case of loss under this policy and a failure of the parties to agree as to the amount of loss, it is mutually agreed that the amount of such loss shall be referred to three disinterested men, the company and the insured each choosing one out of three persons to be named by the other, and the third being selected by the two so chosen; and the award in writing by a majority of the referees shall be conclusive and final upon the parties as to the amount of loss or damage, and such reference, unless waived by the parties, shall be a condition precedent to any right of action in law or equity to recover for such loss; but no person shall be chosen or act as a referee, against the objection of either party, who has acted in a like capacity within four months.
Gen. Laws ch. 175, § 100 titled “ Reference of amount of loss under policy of fire insurance to referees; selection of referees” provides for the procedure for the assembly of the Reference panel:
Section 100. If a claim is presented under any policy of fire insurance issued on property or interests in the commonwealth in the standard form set forth in the preceding section, and if the parties fail to agree as to the amount of loss, the company shall, within ten days after receiving a written demand from the insured for the reference of the amount of loss to three referees as provided in such policy, submit in writing the names and addresses of three persons to the insured, who shall, within ten days after receiving such names, notify the company in writing of his choice of one of the said persons to act as one of said referees.
The insured shall submit in writing the names and addresses of three persons to the company, which shall, within ten days after receiving such names, notify the insured in writing of its choice of one of said persons to act as one of said referees.
If, at the expiration of ten days from the choice of the second referee, the two referees chosen as hereinbefore provided, shall not have agreed upon and selected a person to act as the third referee, then either of the said referees or parties may make written application on oath to the commissioner in such form as he may prescribe, for the appointment of the third referee and the commissioner shall, after such summary inquiry or hearing, if any, as he may deem expedient, appoint a person to serve as the third referee and shall notify such person and the parties in writing of such appointment.
There are several short deadlines that an insurance company receiving a demand for Reference must be aware. The most important is the ten (10) day response time to respond to the policyholder’s demand, with the insurance companies’ submittal in writing of names of three disinterred referees.