An independent appraiser is needed to dispute an insurance claim. If you have a dispute with your insurance company over the amount they wish to pay for your insurance claim damage, then you have a choice and a voice. The choice may be found right in your policy. For many claims the only available option to resolve a dispute may be a clause located in the "Conditions" and/or "What to do after a loss," sections of the policy. It's called The Appraisal Clause - also know as The Appraisal Provision. (For more details about the Insurance Appraisal Clause visit here.) As stated, to invoke this clause and dispute your claim, an independent appraiser is needed.
This page will explain the process you will need to take to advise the insurance company that you dispute their findings and how to find and hire an independent appraiser for your dispute. Lets get started.
Advising the insurance company that you dispute their findings must be done in writing. The letter should include that you wish to invoke the appraisal clause of their policy. In that letter will be the name of the independent appraiser you have chosen. (Yes, we will show you a sample letter you can use, but first things first.)
It's important to understand that a good Independent Appraiser is someone who understands insurance issues and who has firsthand knowledge of construction and replacement costs. A good Independent 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 understand; An Independent Appraiser for Settlement Dispute is 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 an Independent 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, or their duties as an Independent Appraiser?
- 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, Settlement Dispute Process, or their duties as an Independent Appraiser.
- Construction Attorney: A Construction Attorney most likely has knowledge of construction contracts and issues that building contractors have. Do they know anything about the appraisal clause process, the claims process, the software used by insurance companies, the contents damaged? Have they ever acted as or know the duties of an Independent Appraiser? (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? More importantly, what is their knowledge of building costs, construction practices, or contents damage? Does the attorney know anything about the software used by insurance companies? Be careful, Insurance Attorney's may know everything about the policy, the appraisal clause, and the appraisal process, but if they're not familiar with repairing or building a residential or commercial structure, they may not be the best choice. (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.)
- Independent Claims 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?" No! You'd go to a brain surgeon! It is highly recommended to use a qualified, professional, Independent Appraiser who specializes in the Insurance Appraisal Process. This professional will already know the about the Appraisal Clause, the Appraisal Process, and the duties of an Independent Appraiser that settles insurance claim disputes. They will also have qualified professionals (all that are listed above; engineers, contractors, inspectors, attorneys, etc.) at their disposal to back up their analysis. Insurance Appraisal Settlements is what we do. (To hire us as your Independent Appraiser, click here to jump to the next step.)
Whichever route you decide to take, it's best to call several individuals that you think may be able to assist in your situation. Speak with them, explain your claim, basically you are interviewing them. Listen for certain things, like;
Regardless of background, the person you appoint as your independent 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? (To interview Insurance Appraisal Services as a prospect for your needs, please call Joe Brennan at (919) 669-9111 between 9:00 am and 7:00 pm Mon-Sat - EST. or fill out this contact form.)
After you have conducted your interviews with a few prospects you will need to notify who you have decided to use as your independent appraiser. Speak to this individual. Find out what their hourly rate is, how they collect their fees, and to fax, email, or mail you a copy of their contract to read. Many may wish to sit down and discuss these items with you prior to sending you anything. (Contracts and fees are usually proprietary.)
Once you have finalized your choice advise that person that you have chosen them to represent you in your insurance claim dispute. Advise them that you are writing a letter to your insurance company to invoke appraisal on your claim. For that letter you will need the following from the appraiser:
First and Last Name
City, State, Zip/Postal Code
After you have chosen and gathered the appropriate information needed from your independent appraiser, you must formally advise the insurance company that they will be acting in your behalf. Below is a link to a sample letter. The sample letter has been written as if we will be your appraiser. If you wish or need to use another appraiser you can simply change the information accordingly.
- If you disagree with your insurance companies analysis of your claim and you wish to invoke the insurance appraisal clause yourself - then you need a letter advising the insurance company that you wish to forward your claims dispute to the appraisal process. Download our sample Invoking Appraisal Letter to notify your insurance company of your intent to invoke appraisal. This document will advise the insurance company that you wish to execute the appraisal clause in your policy. Again, this sample letter has been pre-written to name Joe Brennan as your settlement dispute appraiser. If you wish or need to use another appraiser you can simply change the information accordingly. Open the Invoking Appraisal Letter here to customize the letter for your needs. (You will be brought back here once you obtain the letter.)
After you have created your letter it is very important to have that letter sent to the insurance company adjuster via registered mail! As well, you should mail a copy to your independent appraiser.
After sending out the letter to your insurance company they will be responding once they choose an independent appraiser. If you do not receive a reply from the company within 14-days, call your independent appraiser and advise them. They can help you push and nudge the appraisal process forward.
It's recommended to limit all communication with your insurance company after the appraisal process has begun. The insurance company's appraiser may call you to request information, which is fine, however, notify your independent appraiser as they may wish to be involved with that meeting or discussion.
Hope you found this information helpful.
If you'd like to speak to someone about your appraisal dispute needs, feel free to call (919) 669-9111 between 9:00 am and 7:00 pm Mon-Sat - EST. If you wish to contact us after hours, or wish for us to call you back at another time, please fill out the Appraisal Dispute Form for policyholders here.
For an outline of what our Independent Appraiser Process is continue here.
We can assist you in the process to invoke appraisal. We provide insurance appraisal services in North Carolina (NC), South Carolina
(SC), Georgia (GA), Florida (FL), Alabama (AL), Mississippi
(MS), Louisiana (LA), Texas (TX), Virginia (VA), Maryland
(MD), Delaware (DE), Washington DC, Pennsylvania (PA), New Jersey (NJ), New York (NY),
Ohio (OH), Kentucky (KY), Indiana (IN), and Oklahoma (OK). If you are in need of invoking appraisal as outlined; please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here
to help you in any way we can.