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What is an insurance appraisal?

Insurance appraisals are a tool used here in California and other states to resolve disputes carriers and policyholders regarding coverage. The areas in question often revolve around whether the policy covers the claim, the details of the claim, what was damaged and how much is the claim worth. The two sides may opt to resolve their differences through litigation. Still, they can address the issue using an insurance appraisal, an onsite inspection of the property by a panel with all interested parties present.

Due to the number of people involved, it could take months to finalize the appraisal's date. Moreover, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it likely adds additional time because of stay-at-home orders and business closures. There may also be necessary arrangements in the format that uses social distancing, masks or other precautions to ensure that the parties can attend and conduct the appraisal in relative safety.

The benefits of this format

Avoiding litigation can be beneficial for both sides for the following reasons:

  • Not waiting for a court date can speed up the process for resolving the matter.
  • Choosing not to litigate also often saves on legal fees.
  • The two sides are free to negotiate their binding settlement, which would be final with no potential for appeal.
  • The parties can create or maintain a strong working relationship if there are other policies involving each side.
  • Each side pays their fees and for their appraiser.
  • An umpire handles any differences between the parties' appraisals.

Legal help may still be useful

It is common for the policyholder and the insurance company to disagree. If the parties cannot resolve the dispute to mutual satisfaction, it can be useful to hire an attorney to address areas in dispute, mainly if the other side is being unreasonable, but if both parties still wish to avoid court. Of course, a court date is an option if the two sides cannot agree.

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