WIND Certified Umpire Code of Ethics
Please note that it is up to the parties selecting an umpire to check references and credentials and to arrange any payments for services. WIND does not endorse or guarantee the qualifications of any of the listed umpires, nor makes recommendations for any of the listed umpires.
WINDSTORM INSURANCE NETWORK, INC.
THE CODE OF ETHICS FOR UMPIRES IN INSURANCE APPRAISALS
Effective February 2005, Revised September 2007
The Code of Ethics for Umpires in Insurance Appraisals was prepared in 2004 by the Umpire Directory Committee of Windstorm Insurance Network, Inc. and approved by the Officers and Board of Directors at its meeting on August 3, 2004. Pursuant to the Bylaws of the organization, the Code was adopted by the members at the Annual WIND Membership Meeting in February 2005 at the annual Windstorm Insurance Conference.
The use of appraisal to resolve insurance disputes has grown extensively. Persons who act as Umpires therefore undertake serious responsibilities to the public, as well as to the parties. Those responsibilities include important ethical obligations.Few cases of unethical behavior by Umpires have arisen. Nevertheless, this Code sets forth generally accepted standards of ethical conduct for the guidance of Umpires, in the hope of contributing to the maintenance of high standards and continued confidence in the process of Appraisal.
Although most proceedings are Appraised pursuant to an insurance contract and voluntary agreement of the parties, certain disputes are submitted to Appraisal by the Court. In all such cases, the persons who have the power to decide should observe fundamental standards of ethical conduct. In this Code, the per- son is called “umpire.” Umpires, like judges, have the power to decide cases. However, unlike full-time judges, Umpires are usu- ally engaged in other occupations before, during, and after the time that they serve as Umpires. Often, Umpires are purposely chosen from the same trade or industry as the parties in order to bring special knowledge to the task of deciding the pending issues. This Code recognizes these fundamental differences between Umpires and judges.
NOTE ON CONSTRUCTION:
Various aspects of the conduct of umpires, including some matters covered by this Code, may also be governed by agreements of the parties described in any Memorandum of Appraisal, arbitration rules to which the parties have agreed, applicable law, or other applicable ethics rules.
All provisions of this Code should therefore be read as subject to contrary provisions of applicable law. They should also be read as subject to contrary agreements of the parties. Nevertheless, this Code impos- es no obligation on any umpire to act in a manner inconsistent with the umpire’s fundamental duty to pre- serve the integrity and fairness of the Appraisal process.
Canons I through VIII of this Code apply to all Umpires participating in the Appraisal process.
CANON I. AN UMPIRE SHOULD UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND FAIRNESS OF THE APPRAISAL PROCESS.
A. An Umpire has a responsibility not only to the parties but also to the process of appraisal itself, and must observe high standards of conduct so that the integrity and fairness of the process will be preserved. Accordingly, an Umpire should recognize a responsibility to the public, to the parties whose rights will be decided, and to all other participants in the proceeding.
B. (1) (2) (3)
One should accept appointment as an umpire only if fully satisfied: that he or she can serve impartially; that he or she can serve independently from the parties, potential witnesses, and the appraisers; that he or she is competent to serve; and
that he or she can be available to commence the appraisal in accordance with the requirements of
(4) the proceeding and thereafter to devote the time and attention to its completion that the parties are rea- sonably entitled to expect.
C. After accepting an appointment and while serving as an Umpire, a person should avoid entering into any business, professional, or personal relationship, or acquiring any financial or personal interest, which is likely to affect impartiality or which might reasonably create the appearance of partiality. For a reason- able period of time after the decision of a case, persons who have served as Umpires should avoid enter- ing into any such relationship, or acquiring any such interest, in circumstances which might reasonably create the appearance that they had been influenced in the appraisal by the anticipation or expectation of the relationship or interest. Existence of any of the matters or circumstances described in this paragraph C does not render it unethical for one to serve as an Umpire where the parties have consented to the Umpire’s appointment or continued services following full disclosure of the relevant facts in accordance with Canon II.
D. Umpires should conduct themselves in a way that is fair to all parties and should not be swayed by outside pressure, public clamor, and fear of criticism or self-interest. They should avoid conduct and state- ments that give the appearance of partiality toward or against any party.
E. When an Umpire’s authority is derived from the agreement of the parties, an Umpire should neither exceed that authority nor do less than is required to exercise that authority completely. Where the agree- ment of the parties sets forth procedures to be followed in conducting the appraisal or refers to rules to be followed, it is the obligation of the Umpire to comply with such procedures or rules. An Umpire has no ethical obligation to comply with any agreement, procedures or rules that are unlawful or that, in the umpire’s judgment, would be inconsistent with this Code.
F. An Umpire should conduct the appraisal process so as to advance the fair and efficient resolution of the matters submitted for decision. An Umpire should make all reasonable efforts to prevent delaying tac- tics, harassment of parties or other participants, or other abuse or disruption of the appraisal process.
G. The ethical obligations of an Umpire begin upon acceptance of the appointment and continue throughout all stages of the proceeding. In addition, as set forth in this Code, certain ethical obligations begin as soon as a person is requested to serve as an Umpire and certain ethical obligations continue after the decision in the proceeding has been given to the parties.
H. Once an Umpire has accepted an appointment, the umpire should not withdraw or abandon the appointment unless compelled to do so by unanticipated circumstances that would render it impossible or impracticable to continue. When an Umpire is to be compensated for his or her services, the Umpire may withdraw if the parties fail or refuse to provide for payment of the compensation as agreed.
I. An Umpire who withdraws prior to the completion of the appraisal, whether upon the Umpire’s initia- tive or upon the request of one or more of the parties, should take reasonable steps to protect the interests of the parties in the appraisal, including return of evidentiary materials and protection of confidentiality.
Comment to Canon I
A prospective Umpire is not necessarily partial or prejudiced by having acquired knowledge of the par- ties, the applicable law or the customs and practices of the business involved. Umpires may also have special experience or expertise in the areas of business, commerce, or technology which are involved in the appraisal. Umpires do not contravene this Canon if, by virtue of such experience or expertise, they have views on certain general issues likely to arise in the Appraisal, but an Umpire may not have pre- judged any of the specific factual determinations to be addressed during the Appraisal.During an appraisal, the Umpire may engage in discourse with the parties or their counsel, draw out arguments or contentions, comment on the law or evidence, make interim rulings, and otherwise control or direct the appraisal. These activities are integral parts of an Appraisal. Paragraph D of Canon I is not intended to preclude or limit either full discussion of the issues during the course of the Appraisal or the Umpire’s management of the proceeding.
CANON II. AN UMPIRE SHOULD DISCLOSE ANY INTEREST OR RELATIONSHIP LIKELY TO AFFECT IMPARTIALITY OR WHICH MIGHT CREATE AN APPEARANCE OF PARTIALITY.
A. (1) (2)
Persons who are requested to serve as Umpires should, before accepting, disclose:
any known direct or indirect financial or personal interest in the outcome of the appraisal;
any known existing or past financial, business, professional or personal relationships which might reasonably affect impartiality or lack of independence in the eyes of any of the parties. For example, prospective Umpires should disclose any such relationships which they personally have with any party or its lawyer, with any appraiser on the panel, or with any individual whom they have been told will be a witness. They should also disclose any such relationships involving their families or household members or their current employers, partners, or professional or business associates that can be ascertained by rea- sonable efforts;
(3) the nature and extent of any prior knowledge they may have of the dispute; and
(4) any other matters, relationships, or interests which they are obligated to disclose by the agreement of the parties, the rules or practices of an institution, or applicable law regulating umpire disclosures.
B. Persons who are requested to accept appointment as Umpire should make a reasonable effort to inform themselves of any interests or relationships described in paragraph A.
C. The obligation to disclose interests or relationships described in paragraph A is a continuing duty which requires a person who accepts appointment as an arbitrator to disclose, as soon as practicable, at any stage of the appraisal, any such interests or relationships which may arise, or which are recalled or discovered.
D. Any doubt as to whether or not disclosure is to be made should be resolved in favor of disclosure.
E. Disclosure should be made to all parties unless other procedures for disclosure are provided in the agreement of the parties, applicable rules or practices of an institution or by law.
F. When parties, with knowledge of a person’s interests and relationships, nevertheless desire that per- son to serve as an umpire, that person may properly serve.
G. If an Umpire is requested by all parties to withdraw, the Umpire must do so. If an Umpire is request- ed to withdraw by less than all of the parties because of alleged partiality, the Umpire should withdraw unless either of the following circumstances exists:
(1) An agreement of the parties, or Appraisal rules agreed to by the parties, or applicable law establish- es procedures for determining challenges to Umpires, in which case those procedures should be followed; or
(2) In the absence of applicable procedures, if the Umpire, after carefully considering the matter, deter- mines that the reason for the challenge is not substantial, and that he or she can nevertheless act and decide the case impartially and fairly.
H. If compliance by a prospective Umpire with any provision of this Code would require disclosure of confidential or privileged information, the prospective Umpire should either:
(1) Secure the consent to the disclosure from the person who furnished the information or the holder of the privilege; or
CANON III. AN UMPIRE SHOULD AVOID IMPROPRIETY OR THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY IN COMMUNICATING WITH PARTIES.
A. If a Memorandum of Appraisal establishes the manner or content of communications between the Umpire and the Appraisers, the umpire should follow those procedures, notwithstanding any contrary provision of paragraphs B and C.
B. An Umpire or prospective Umpire should not discuss a proceeding with any party in the absence of any other party, except in any of the following circumstances:
(1) When the appointment of a prospective Umpire is being considered, the prospective Umpire:
(a) may ask about the identities of the parties, counsel, or witnesses and the general nature of the case; and
(b) may respond to inquiries from a party or its counsel designed to determine his or her suitability and availability for the appointment. In any such dialogue, the prospective Umpire may receive information from a party or its counsel disclosing the general nature of the dispute, but should not permit them to dis- cuss the merits of the case.
C. Unless otherwise provided in this Canon, in applicable appraisal rules or in an agreement of the parties, whenever an Umpire communicates in writing with one Appraiser, the Umpire should at the same time send a copy of the communication to other Appraisers.
CANON IV. AN UMPIRE SHOULD CONDUCT THE PROCEEDINGS FAIRLY AND DILIGENTLY.
A. An Umpire should conduct the proceedings in an even-handed manner. The Umpire should be patient and courteous to the parties, their representatives, and the witnesses; and, he or she should always encourage similar conduct by all participants.
B. The Umpire should allow each Appraiser a fair opportunity to present its evidence and arguments.
C. When the Umpire determines that more information than has been presented by the parties is required to decide the case, it is not improper for the Umpire to ask questions, call witnesses, and request documents or other evidence, including expert testimony.
D. Upon the request of either or both Appraisers the Umpire should personally inspect any available damaged property.
E. Although it is not improper for an Umpire to suggest to the parties that they discuss the possibility of settlement or the use of mediation, or other dispute resolution processes, an Umpire should not exert pressure on any party to settle or to utilize other dispute resolution processes. An Umpire should not be present or otherwise participate in settlement discussions or act as a mediator, unless requested to do so by all parties.
CANON V. AN UMPIRE SHOULD MAKE DECISIONS IN A JUST, INDEPENDENT AND DELIBERATE MANNER.
A. The Umpire should, after careful deliberation, decide all issues submitted for determination. An umpire should decide no other issues.
B. An Umpire should decide all matters justly, exercising independent judgment, and should not permit outside pressure to affect the decision.
C. An Umpire should not delegate the duty to decide to any other person.
D. In the event that both appraisers agree upon a settlement of issues in dispute and request the umpire to embody that agreement in an award, the umpire may do so.
CANON VI. AN UMPIRE SHOULD BE FAITHFUL TO THE RELATIONSHIP OF TRUST AND CONFIDENTIALI- TY INHERENT IN THAT OFFICE.
A. An Umpire is in a relationship of trust to the parties and should not, at any time, use confidential information acquired during the Appraisal process to gain personal advantage or advantage for others, or to affect adversely the interest of another.
B. The Umpire should keep confidential all matters relating to the Appraisal process and decision. An Umpire may obtain help from an associate, a research assistant or other persons in connection with reaching his or her decision.C. It is not proper at any time for an Umpire to inform anyone of any decision in advance of the time it is given to all parties. It is not proper for the Umpire to inform anyone about the substance of the delibera- tions of the Appraisers. After an appraisal award has been made, it is not proper for an umpire to assist in proceedings to enforce or challenge the award.
CANON VII. AN UMPIRE SHOULD ADHERE TO STANDARDS OF INTEGRITY AND FAIRNESS WHEN MAKING ARRANGEMENTS FOR COMPENSATION AND REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES.
A. Umpires who are to be compensated for their services or reimbursed for their expenses shall adhere to standards of integrity and fairness in making arrangements for such payments.
B. Certain practices relating to payments are generally recognized as tending to preserve the integrity and fairness of the appraisal process. These practices include:
(1) Before the Umpire finally accepts appointment, the basis of payment, including any cancellation fee, compensation in the event of withdrawal and compensation for study and preparation time, and all other charges, should be established.
(2) Umpires should not, absent extraordinary circumstances, request increases in the basis of their compensation during the course of a proceeding.
(3) Umpires should not withhold any decision or award pending payment by any or either party for the services of the umpire.
CANON VIII. AN UMPIRE MAY ENGAGE IN ADVERTISING OR PROMOTION OF UMPIRE SERVICES WHICH IS TRUTHFUL AND ACCURATE.
A. Advertising or promotion of an individual’s willingness or availability to serve as an Umpire must be accurate and unlikely to mislead. Any statements about the quality of the Umpire’s work or the success of the Umpire’s practice must be truthful.
B. Advertising and promotion must not imply any willingness to accept an appointment otherwise than in accordance with this Code.
Comment to Canon VIII
This Canon does not preclude an Umpire from printing, publishing, or disseminating advertisements conforming to these standards in any electronic or print medium, from making personal presentations to prospective users of umpire services conforming to such standards or from responding to inquiriescon- cerning the umpire’s availability, qualifications, experience, or fee arrangements.
Please note that The Code of Ethics For Umpires In Insurance Appraisals is a living document. It is submitted to the organization for approval and can be modified or amended at future meetings.
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