Speed – The average residential insurance claims appraisal is taking 60, sometimes 90 days or 120 days, to close from start to finish. The differences on these claims are typically from 100 to 300k and are wholly associated with cost and scope. The commercial claims schedule for a standalone business can often be the same but know that a condo can sometimes take a little longer as the understanding of the damage is harder to collect and the costs more complex. Many commercial large loss claims are often resolved in 180 days but can take longer, up to 9 or 12 months, for a final award.
Usually in this amount of time you can arrange an inspection with the appraiser for the opposing side, get to the site, disagree, and set an umpire appointment. In Florida today in most occasions it should be a true appraiser meeting you as compared to the public adjuster appraising his or her own claims thanks to recent rulings as to the requirements to be “independent.”
This meeting is for the panel and I see many appraisers inviting the homeowner, contractor, adjusters, lawyers and a marching band to the panel meeting. I believe to keep efficient the panel meeting should be limited to the appraisers, if possible. It is critical to get the data from the process that preceded us, but equally important to not carry over unnecessary emotion.
Accuracy – The insurance claims appraisal process provides every opportunity to gather the real details of the loss and sweep away mistakes of other early actors. By the time a claim makes appraisal it has usually been measured and beaten about sufficiently enough to at least be the right measurements. The scope should be well defined and developed by the process. The accuracy of an appraisal can extend beyond the Coverage A and most appraisal we conduct include all coverages. We will almost always include an itemized detail for the award articulating all of the coverages appraised and the values both before and after deductible. Our office includes an Xactimate without values to aid the insured, the mortgage company, FEMA, and the insurer to document the loss and what is paid for.
Productivity – Move the files and that includes into alternative dispute resolution. Nothing better happens the longer a claim stays open. In fact – just the opposite happens. Appraisal allows contractors to go back to building instead of arguing with adjusters. It allows adjusters the opportunity to go serve insureds where they can make a difference and gives appraisers something to do. The process is beautiful in that it has a beginning marked by the demand and an end illustrated in the award. Insurance is an avalanche of math – numbers and percentages and fractions and some percentage of claims are best served by the appraisal process. Appraisers are set to go out in the field and visit the site again to see what may have been missed or is overblown without a court order and months of arguing process. Appraisers appraise, not litigate or adjust, or all of the others.
Costs – Fee sharing or one-way attorney fees in Florida add significantly to the costs of the file. It is certain there are many losses that require a judge, good counsel, and a jury – but many property claims are not that. The lines between damages caused by a covered loss, old damage, construction defect, and other causes of loss are difficult to understand and even harder to articulate in a written report. However, these differences in damage model may be clear as a day in an appraisal panel inspection. Months or years of back and forth eliminated by the appraisers meeting and gathering agreement. The less strict methods of process included in appraisal reduces the challenges in every aspect of the loss, from getting agreement for a site inspection to gathering opinions from applicable parties without deposition.
Full Disclosure – Complete is licensed general contracting and engineering company providing specialized forensic services and trial testimony on a number of affairs including land use, construction defect and Wind v. Flood but we would almost always rather be in appraisal. We are members of both the Windstorm Insurance Network Certified Appraiser/ Umpire roster as well as the IAUA Puerto Rico and we appreciate the education both programs bring to the industry. Every appraiser is different, but a quick phone call is perfectly in order to vet an appraiser until you find one that can get your files closed and the insureds down the road.