As a certified arbitrator I have been formally retained by direct insurers, ceding companies and reinsurers over 35 times since 2004 in various roles functioning as a neutral party, a party-appointed arbitrator and as an umpire. While an arbitrator is akin to a “private judge”, I describe my real role as one who is always “seeking the truth”.
Since many arbitrations must deal with fragments of an insurance relationship’s history, not always well documented and often with many of the parties long-gone, “seeking the truth” means attempting to learn from the available materials what the parties intended when they signed on to their arbitration agreements so long ago.
I am an advocate of returning arbitration to its original core intent of being a process that is supposed to be less formal, more flexible, less expensive and speedier. Arbitration is important in American history. George Washington gave credence to arbitration in his last will and testament. His 1799 will provided that “all disputes (if unhappily any should arise) shall be decided by three impartial and intelligent men, known for their probity and good understanding; two to be chosen by the disputants each having the choice of one and the third by the two of those. Which three men thus chosen, shall, unfettered by Law, or legal constructions, declare their intent of the Testators intention; and such decision is to all intents and purposes to be as binding on the Parties as if it had been given in the Supreme Court of the United States.”
There must be a benefit to the parties who put their faith in the arbitration process when they agreed to give up their right to appeal in return for industry knowledgeable individuals assisting them in reaching private, confidential solutions to their disputes. While arbitration is a creature of contract between the parties, the arbitrator, alone or on a panel with peers keeps the process moving forward by making timely decisions based on the materials presented with the end goal of bringing resolution to their dispute.