On October 12, 2022, Wheeler, DiUlio & Barnabei hosted the tenth installment of the 12-part webinar series, The Perfect Claim. The goal of this series is to discuss the entire claims process from start to finish so viewers can learn how to resolve claims more efficiently. This webinar specifically focused on the appraisal process.
In The Art of Appraisal: Your Guide to the Proper Resolution, Partner Anthony DiUlio discussed:
- What makes a claim appropriate for appraisal
- Steps to make it through the appraisal process quickly and fairly
- How to deal with difficult appraisals
Notable Appraisal Language Reminders
The first thing anyone should do when filing claims or going through the appraisal process is to read the full policy. The policy itself is a rulebook. Reading the policy in its entirety will only help your case.
Once you have read the policy and decide to move forward with the appraisal process, remember to put everything in writing. Many, if not all, policies will state that all demands must be written, so have a form letter reach to go.
Appraisals are not ‘optional’. Carriers cannot refuse appraisals once there is a dispute on the amount of the loss. It is important to note that a standard timeline to file an appraisal is approximately 20 days after the demand, however, check with your policy for the exact timeframe.
Another important aspect stated in the policy language is that the appraisers are the ones who then determine the amount of the loss. In addition, the actual cash value of the loss and the amount of loss to each item must be stated separately. Then, the agreed-upon amount between appraisers and individuals shall be the binding amount of the loss.
The Appraisal Process
The most important part of the appraisal process is the choice of an umpire. The right umpire is critical to getting fair and accurate results on the appraisal as everything during the process can be guided by them.
The process you follow should be the same process for every appraisal in terms of workflows and forms. The workflow includes any set of predetermined steps with predetermined dates used on the appraisals. Here is just one example of a timeline for the appraisal process:
- Day 1: Submit an introduction letter – The introduction letter outlines timelines, goals, the scope of appraisal, and other important information.
- Day 1-10: Have a signed appraisal agreement set in place with the opposing appraiser based on agreements
- Day 10-15: Select your umpire – As stated, this is the most important part of the appraisal process. While selecting your umpire is listed as step 3, it can be strongly advised to select your umpire prior to becoming involved with the opposing appraiser.
- Day 20-30: Undergo a joint inspection with both sides
- Day 30-35: Write a position letter on the scope of the appraisal and other issues without numbers – This letter should identify everything observed at the inspection. Having documentation in writing is crucial, so make sure everything is described in detail.
- Day 35-40: Exchange estimates
- Day 40-60: Resolve disputes
Keys to a Good Appraisal
For a strong appraisal, document everything, including conversations, inspections, agreements, and more. Having proof or evidence will help support your claim in filing for a loss.
Next, move at a steady pace with purpose. Do not delay or stall anything.
Lastly, be sure to select a good umpire. As mentioned above, this is the most important part of the appraisal process. An umpire can be used to solve disputes.
Common Issues When Filing Appraisals
Some of the most notable issues that arise when filing appraisals include the following:
- Lack of response
- Selecting the wrong umpire
- Communication troubles with the carrier
- Scope agreements prior to and during the appraisal process
Seek assistance from experts to help guide you through these hurdles.
Additional Options if Appraisal Does Not Come Into Fruition
You can take a few further steps if an appraisal is not the right course of action. One option may be to litigate over unappraised items. For example, if you got an appraisal for roof damage, but there was also floor damage, seek further discussion regarding the floor.
Another additional action is to switch from appraisal to litigation on all issues. You could also file formal complaints to the insurance department or other parties involved.
Lastly, take your complaints directly to the carrier if all else fails.
Have questions about the claims process? Contact Wheeler, DiUlio & Barnabei to learn more.