COURT ENFORCES INSURANCE POLICY ARBITRATION PROVISION FOR CLAIMS AGAINST AGENCY AND AGENT
Last Monday, the Amarillo Court of Appeals enforced an insurance policy arbitration provision as applicable to the policyholder’s claims under Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and, fiduciary duty claims against and agency and individual agent. In Jody James Farms, JV v. The Altman Group, Inc., 2016 WL 6092370 (Tex. App. – Amarillo, October 17, 2016), a crop insurer denied a claim in part due to untimely submission. The insured field suit and the insurer compelled arbitration under a policy provision mandating arbitration as the means to resolve “all disagreements” under the policy. The arbitrator ruled in favor of the insurer. The insured then filed suit against the agency and agent that secured the policy and they also moved to compel arbitration. The court agreed and the arbitrator found in favor of the agency and agent. The trial court entered an order in their favor and the insured appealed.
The Amarillo Court of Appeals analyzed case law addressing efforts to enforce arbitration provisions against non-signatories to the agreement. The court observed that the arbitration provision applied to all disagreements related to the policy and that the arbitrator had the authority to determine his ability to arbitrate claims against non-signatories to the agreement. In this case, the court determined the arbitrator properly exercised his authority and found that the trial court did not err in affirming the arbitration award. The court affirmed the trial court’s judgment in favor of the agency and agent.