Insurance claim disputes are fairly common.
Most homeowners discover that often insurance companies offer settlements way below what they expected or consider fair. For a small property loss claim, it may not make much sense to go to great lengths to get what you think it’s fair. On the other hand, when the loss in question is a large or catastrophic property loss, a less than fair settlement may bring the insured on the brink of financial ruin.
It’s also the large property loss claims that the insurance companies are most worried about, as they too can suffer large losses as a result. They have a vested interest in trying to minimize the settlement amount they pay out to you, and unlike you, they have large departments whose only job is to help them minimize their claims liability, at your expense.
Under such conflicting circumstances, you can hardly expect the insurance company to be an advocate for your interests. It is entirely up to you, the homeowner, to make the case for the losses suffered, quickly and effectively.
Should you try to resolve a claim dispute on your own?
Trying to solve a claim dispute for a large property loss yourself may prove both unrealistic and costly. First, the average homeowner does not have the knowledge, time or resources to properly manage a claim dispute. Also, in the end, hiring professionals help for your claim dispute will likely cost much less than the amount you’ll leave on the table when trying to do it yourself. With a large property claim dispute, you just can’t afford not to get the best help you possibly can. It can in the end make the difference between a successful settlement and financial ruin.
Claim disputes about the amount of the property loss
At the basis of any property loss claim is creating an inventory and documenting all property losses. This is an arduous process. It requires not just an inventory of lost items, with brands, prices paid and the age of the items, but also cleaning estimate, repair estimates from multiple contractors and so on. The insurance company will use this information to appraise your losses and offer a settlement amount.
In the event you disagree with the settlement offer, you can invoke the “appraisal clause”. The appraisal clause states that, in case of a dispute regarding the value of the loss, the two parties can select a disinterested third party to perform an independent appraisal. The independent appraiser is called an “umpire”, and it’s used by the two parties to negotiate any differences in the appraisal.
Insurance Code 2071 states:
“In case the insured and this company shall fail to agree as to the actual cash value or the amount of loss, then, on the written request of either, each shall select a competent and disinterested appraiser and notify the other of the appraiser selected within 20 days of the request. Where the request is accepted, the appraisers shall first select a competent and disinterested umpire; and failing for 15 days to agree upon the umpire, then, on request of the insured or this company, the umpire shall be selected by a judge of a court of record in the state in which the property covered is located. Appraisal proceedings are informal unless the insured and this company mutually agree otherwise. For purposes of this section, “informal” means that no formal discovery shall be conducted, including depositions, interrogatories, requests for admission, or other forms of formal civil discovery, no formal rules of evidence shall be applied, and no court reporter shall be used for the proceedings. The appraisers shall then appraise the loss, stating separately actual cash value and loss to each item; and, failing to agree, shall submit their differences, only, to the umpire. An award in writing, so itemized, of any two when filed with this company shall determine the amount of actual cash value and loss. Each appraiser shall be paid by the party selecting him or her and the expenses of appraisal and umpire shall be paid by the parties equally. In the event of a government-declared disaster, as defined in the Government Code, appraisal may be requested by either the insured or this company but shall not be compelled.”
You should not start the Appraisal process without your own appraiser or public adjuster. It would be like going to court without a lawyer when the other party has hired a top rated one.
Michigan Fire Claims Inc. employs highly skilled individuals who can work on your behalf as property loss appraisers, public adjusters, loss consultant as well as independent umpires.
Contact us to find out more about our professional adjusting, loss appraising and umpire services.