It's important to understand that a good Settlement Dispute Appraiser is someone who understands insurance issues and who has firsthand knowledge of construction and replacement costs. A good Settlement Dispute Appraiser is also someone who can secure binding bids from reputable sources to repair and replace the damaged property, knows building codes, and can articulate unforeseen costs of repairs. Usually this entails an enormous amount of research, such as costs to thoroughly repair a structure to its pre-claim condition, costs of replacing the property with items of like kind and quality, cost of clearing the land or bulldozing the property (in cases of fire and/or major contamination), cost of repairing and replacing contents with items of like kind and quality. As well as, Additional Living Expenses incurred if a home is uninhabitable or Business Interruption loss due to a destroyed building.
Now, please do not get confused! A Settlement Dispute Appraisers not a real estate appraiser. He or she is an Insurance Claims Expert on costs and bids to repair and replace. It’s recommended to appoint a Settlement Dispute Appraiser who is a specialist when it comes to the Insurance Appraisal Process and also Insurance Claims Handling. People requesting assistance in the past have asked if the following experts with the following backgrounds are good candidates:
- Structural Engineers: This person may be a structural expert and could probably provide a good estimate to replace a building, but what about the contents (furniture, food, etc.) damage? Do they know anything about the insurance policy, the claims process, the software used by insurance companies, the Appraisal Process, Settlement Dispute Process?
- General Contractor or Construction Superintendent: Again, excellent choice for generating a structural estimate, but will most likely not be familiar with insurance claims... and even more importantly, the Insurance Appraisal Clause, the Appraisal Process, or Settlement Dispute Process.
- Construction Attorney: A Construction Attorney most likely has knowledge of construction contracts and issues that building contractors have. Do they know anything about the insurance policy, the claims process, the software used by insurance companies, the Appraisal Process, the contents damaged? (NOTE: If you retain an attorney as Appraiser, remember, there is NO attorney/client privilege because the attorney is being hired as an Appraiser, not as an attorney.)
- Insurance Claim Attorney / Lawyer: Keep in mind that the process was designed to keep these types of disputes out of court. A policyholder can surely use an attorney as a Settlement Dispute Appraiser; however, the fees can exhaust the reward. Attorney's fees range between 30% and 40% of the amount collected. This can dig deep into the net amount the policyholder receives. An Insurance Attorney will also have expert knowledge of the policy. However, the Appraisal Clause clearly notes that no policy provisions will apply, appraisal is about the amount of loss only. Has the attorney represented their clients in many appraisals or mostly in court cases? How familiar are they with the Appraisal Clause and Appraisal Process, building costs, construction practices, or the contents damaged? Does the attorney know anything about the software used by insurance companies? (NOTE: If you retain an attorney as Appraiser, remember, there is NO attorney/client privilege because the attorney is being hired as an Appraiser, not as an attorney.)
- Settlement Dispute Appraiser: Doesn't it make sense to hire an individual who is an expert of the process in which you are about to engage? You've heard the expression, "Would you go to your auto mechanic if you needed brain surgery?" It is highly recommended to use a qualified, professional, Settlement Dispute Appraiser. This professional will already know the about the Appraisal Clause, the Appraisal Process, and the duties of a Settlement Dispute Appraiser. They will also have qualified professionals (all that are listed above; engineers, contractors, inspectors, attorneys, etc.) at their disposal to back up their analysis. Settlement Dispute Appraisals is what we do. Visit here for more information on what we do and how to hire us as a Settlement Dispute Appraiser.
Regardless of background, the person appointed as appraiser needs to be a skilled communicator and advocate. He or she should not be unreasonable or biased. They should know about the insurance policy, the appraisal clause, the claims process, the software used by insurance companies, the Appraisal Process, contents damage, structural damages, building costs and processes, as well as materials and building codes. Makes sense, right?