Insurance Claim Appraisal may help resolve disputes

Did you know that the Insurance Claim Appraisal process can help resolve your claim dispute?

It is all too common for insureds to have disputes with their insurance companies over anything from coverage on a claim to not being paid enough on a claim.  If you find yourself in this position you may have more than one option.  First, many states offer a claim Mediation Program sponsored by the State and in many situations you also have the option of an Insurance Claim Appraisal if it is a dispute of the value of a loss.  In this post we are going to talk about the appraisal process and how it can help resolve your insurance claim dispute.  (If you would like more information about the mediation program please follow this link to another post we wrote on the mediation program.)  The way the appraisal portion reads in most policies where it is available is something like this:

If you or we fail to agree on the amount of loss, either may: 2. Demand an appraisal of the loss.  In this event each party will choose a competent appraiser within 20 days after receiving a written request from the other.  The two appraisers will choose an umpire….The appraisers will each set the amount of the loss.  If the appraisers fail to agree to an amount they will submit the differences to the umpire.  A decision agreed to by any two will set the amount of the loss….

The process will work similarly to how it reads.  Here are the typical steps to the process:

  1. You choose a competent appraiser to represent your interest through the process.  Many Public Adjusters are also Appraisers and can assist you through the process.
  2. You or your appraiser will notify the insurance company of your intent to invoke the appraisal provision of your policy.
  3. The insurance company will appoint an appraiser to represent them in the process.
  4. The 2 appraisers will exchange lists of umpire they would like to have in the event they are unable to come to an agreement.
  5. If the 2 appraisers are unable to agree on an umpire, either party may petition the courts to appoint an umpire.
  6. Upon the umpire being selected the 2 appraisers will most likely meet at the loss location to inspect the property and each put together their own valuation of the loss.
  7. The 2 appraisers attempt to negotiate a fair settlement to the claim.  If they are not able to come to an agreement they will then engage the services of an impartial umpire.
  8. Any 2 of the 3 party appraisal panel will sign the appraisal award and submit it to the insurance company for payment.

The results of the appraisal are binding to all parties.  This process can be a great alternative to lengthy litigation however there are mixed opinions on the process.  In Florida we have seen many companies taking this provision out of their policy as the Florida Insurance Code does not require it to be in the policy.  If you don’t feel that the insurance company has paid you enough for your loss, you may want to check and see if this provision is in your policy as it may be a good option to settle your dispute.

We posted a story about a claim where it was eventually settled with the Insurance Claim Appraisal process. The story may give you a better understanding of how the process works.