An "appraisal" is a little-understood process prescribed by the policy for arriving at the post-loss value of a disputed claim or loss. This is not to be confused with the pre-loss appraisal of property to establish an insurable value. Post-loss appraisal is a procedure granted to the parties to a property insurance contract to have the disputed amount of property damage losses determined in a faster, less expensive method than resorting to litigation. Whether the loss was caused by fire, flood, windstorm, theft or any other casualty, the dispute can be resolved through the appraisal process that is provided for in the policy of insurance.
The appraisal clause can be found in most homeowners' policies, in every policy covering commercial buildings, in all business policies, as well as in every renters' policy. Historically, the procedure provided by the appraisal clause has been invoked more often by insurers who generally have greater familiarity with the terms and conditions of their policies, although insureds have recently looked more to post-loss appraisal as a means of resolving damage disputes.
There can be many pitfalls to the process, and knowing how to avoid them is the key to maximizing insurance coverage.
Unlike arbitration or a trial, the appraisal is a more informal process. There is no hearing or formal marshalling of evidence. If the carrier and the business cannot agree on the value of a loss, either party can invoke an appraisal (usually, it is the carrier which invokes the process).
The precise terms of the appraisal clause may vary from one policy to the next, but typically it requires each party -- the carrier and the business -- to designate a qualified and independent appraiser. The two designated appraisers then select a third person, an umpire. If the two designated appraisers cannot agree on an umpire, often a district court will appoint the umpire.
Next, each appraiser evaluates the loss and makes a determination of the value of the property damages. The determination may be based upon existing information, or may require development of new avenues of exploration that may involve outside experts. Once each side has has made a determination as to the amount of damages sustained in the loss, the two appraisers discuss their respective findings in an attempt to reach common ground. If there are areas where the appraisers agree, then that portion of the claim is settled. For those portions of the loss where the appraisers cannot agree, then the appraisers submit the disputed part to the umpire. The umpire will then review the claim and render a decision which, if agreed to by either or both appraisers, constitutes the appraisal award.
Why Oliver & Co. as Your Appraiser?
Why should you retain the services of Oliver & Co. Property Loss Consulting to serve as your appraiser? Our appraisers, utilizes nearly than 25 years of experience with an extensive background in dealing with property claims, insurance repair and restoration, insurance coverage disputes, and specifically disaster property claims. We make sure that you have equal footing -- considering that the insurance company has many experts on their side -- when it comes to appraisals.
When Oliver & Co. is your appraiser, we utilize all available resources to obtain the most information that best establishes the value of the damaged property. All documents are examined, all experts are consulted, and all necessary research is performed so that a complete and thorough profile of the loss can be compiled for presentation. In addition, the work-product of the opposing appraiser is examined in great detail, with all questionable positions challenged to the fullest extent allowed by the umpire.