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What is an Appraisal? What does an Appraiser do?

Most insurance policies have progressive steps known as “the duties of an insured.” Once a claimant submits all the required documents, forms, estimates, property inventory loss forms, and anything that supports their claim. The insurer has a duty to investigate, and seek a resolution. 

The first step is that both parties must agree that the claim is covered by the policy. The next step is to attempt to agree on the amount that the policyholder is owed. When neither party can agree on the value of a claim a form of arbitration is used. Every policy will have forms of arbitration intended to solve disputes before litigation and lawsuits can be utilized because nobody, not even your insurance company, wants to be in court. Every policy is unique so it is good to read up on the arbitration clauses in your policy.  One of the dispute resolutions that is in most policies is known as the “appraisal clause”. This is the one that we recommend using in the case of a price dispute. This clause can be used over any insurance coverage price dispute. Having a qualified property-loss appraiser is critical because many times the results of an appraisal can lock a claim value in even if done improperly or wrong. Your insurance policy dictates whether the results are binding, but generally does not prevent loss victims from suing their insurer for any poor outcome. 

Appraisal sets up a three party panel: you, your insurance company, and an agreed upon third member known as the umpire. Anyone can be appointed to be your representative in the state of Florida. If the two parties can not agree on who the umpire is then a local judge will choose. Your claim amount is to be established by the umpire and agreed upon by another party.

Preparing for an appraisal is a precursor for litigation. If your file is proper and all your forms are in line then your open insurance claim dispute will settle. This allows loss victims to keep their claim costs low, and avoid the traditional 40% taken by attorneys not including experts and filing costs. Suing your insurance company should be the absolute last thing a person does.A resolution of an insurance claim is always a compromise by all parties and establishing claim amounts is, in large part, opinion driven. We build every client’s claim package with the understanding that our product may be the difference maker when seen by a jury. Insurance companies see that and decide to cut their losses by just paying the valid claim. The secret to a claim is patience, experience, and attention to detail.

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