The Appraisal Process – Watch Out!
It is common for insurance companies and their insureds to have disagreements on the amount of the policyholder’s covered loss in a first party property claim, particularly in storm damage claims. If you and your insurance company have a dispute about the value or amount of your insurance loss, the appraisal clause in your property policy may be invoked by the insurance company or you. But the appraisal process has frequently proven to be an obstacle or trap for homeowners, landlords, property managers, consumers, and other policyholders. Too often the appraisal process may be manipulated by an insurance company or its appraiser or it is improperly implemented or carried out at the insurance company’s direction or control to manipulate an outcome the insurer seeks.
How Does the Insurance Appraisal Process Work?
Once the appraisal process is requested in a first party property loss, both the policyholder and the insurance company are required to hire competent and impartial appraisers to determine the amount of loss. A third person is chosen as “an umpire” by the two appraisers if the two appraisers cannot agree on the amount of the covered loss. If the appraisers cannot agree on an umpire, a court may select the umpire. If the two appraisers cannot agree on the amount of loss, the umpire is brought in and one of the appraisers and the umpire can agree on the amount of loss for an appraisal award. A valid and enforceable appraisal award is binding on the insurance company and policyholder regarding the amount of loss, assuming appraisal is properly carried out.
Sounds easy and simple? It is not. If an appraiser or umpire is not competent, or more likely not impartial, then a policyholder can get stuck with a bad award and one that does not compensate you for your loss. Insurance companies often use the same appraisers over and over again. Sometimes appraisers and umpires do more than they are permitted by the property insurance policy, such as determining the cause of the loss or coverage for the loss. But no matter what, a bad appraisal award can be hard to undo and a disaster for a policyholder. For this reason, it is essential to make sure that the appraisal is invoked properly, the appraisal process is properly performed, and that you consult with an insurance coverage lawyer with experience in the appraisal process to protect your rights and answer any questions about your claim.
Contrary to opinions that appraisal is a simple process, you need an experienced attorney in the appraisal process that protects your interests before, during and after the appraisal process. Attorney Mark A. Ticer is a frequent writer and lecturer on the topic of appraisal, its pitfalls, and challenges. Attorney Mark A. Ticer has written and spoken on appraisal in Texas more than any other Texas attorney. We provide informed and experienced counsel aimed at protecting your interests before, during and after the appraisal process. Visit our Appraisal page to learn more about insurance appraisal in Texas.
Contact Us for Experienced, Aggressive Representation Fighting for Your Claim
A knowledgeable lawyer can help guide and protect you through the appraisal process. To arrange a free initial consultation at our office in Dallas, Texas, please contact us online or call 214-219-4220 (800-963-3378 toll free).