No one wants to be in a position of having to make an insurance claim. That means you have some kind of issue or damage has been done to your home or business. It’s also never pleasant to deal with your insurance company, as they don’t want to have to payout. There is always an appraisal done to assess the cost, and people are often not happy with it.
What is an Insurance Appraisal?
An insurance appraisal is conducted for various reasons. Not just when you are making an insurance claim, but when you are buying property, or refinancing your mortgage. An appraisal is the estimated value of a home determined by an inspection of the property and its comparison to recently sold homes or businesses in the area to estimate the value. This goes for the amount you determine your valuables to be worth in your home or business. It is written out in detail for insurance purposes when you get the insurance.
If you need to make a claim for property damage, a professional adjuster will examine the property to determine the value or payment you are due. This is the cost to replace your lost items or rebuild the property. However, there are often problems. If you underestimate the cost of an item or property, if something happens to it, you will only get the value you initially gave it.
While some items are easy to value, others may not. An adjuster may not agree with you over the cost of certain items, like artwork, antiques, or collections of things. A professional appraiser can determine the cost for the lost or damaged items. They have training and knowledge about a lot of items that may be more difficult to determine. Once that appraisal is complete, it’s down to the insurance company to pay what has been determined. But, they may not agree, and you may also not be happy with the amount reached.
Example of a standard appraisal clause:
If we and you disagree on the value of the property, the amount of Net Income and operating expense or the amount of loss, either may make written demand for an appraisal of the loss. In this event, each party will select a competent and impartial appraiser. The two appraisers will select an umpire. If they cannot agree, either may request that selection be made by a judge of a court having jurisdiction. The appraisers will state separately the value of the property, the amount of Net Income and operating expense or the amount of loss. If they fail to agree, they will submit their differences to the umpire. A decision agreed to by any two will be binding. Each party will:
a. Pay its chosen appraiser; and
b. Bear the other expenses of the appraisal and umpire equally. If there is an appraisal, we will still retain our right to deny the claim.
What Happens if You Disagree?
There will almost always be a disagreement on the amount you receive and the amount the insurance company is willing to pay. Not only can they pay less than the estimated value, but they may also deny your claim.
Even if your claim is approved, it may not be for what you feel your property is worth. This can be very frustrating, in particular, if you are already going through a difficult time. However, there are things you can do.
You can start by reviewing your insurance policy. There may be something you missed or were not aware of. The same can be for the insurer. There may be a mistake, or the policy may not actually cover what you thought it did.
You can also go to the manager at your insurance company and ask why you were denied or were not given the amount you requested. This way your case will need to be gone over again.
If they use terms or talk in code, make sure they are clear and tell you exactly what they mean. If you are still at odds, get a second opinion from another agent at the insurance company.
If you don’t get the results you want you can file an appeal. Your entire claim will be looked over again, and you will need to have all the information and documents ready.
You can contact the State Department of Insurance. They can help you with free advice, resources, and what you need to do next to continue fighting your claim. They can be very helpful and they don’t charge you for their service.
You can also contact a lawyer. Chances are, once you start to push back, they will have their lawyer onboard. Often, things change quickly once the legal teams are involved.
Be sure to choose a lawyer who deals with residential and commercial property. They will have a lot of knowledge and experience with these types of claims and can help you through it all.
It’s not often easy making an insurance claim, but you shouldn’t be bullied or denied what you have been paying for. That is why we get insurance in the first place.