How to dispute an insurance appraisal

The whole point of an insurance claim is to have help restoring things back to normal. But what if you feel like your insurance company isn’t helping you enough when it comes to your insurance appraisal? Many people let things slide and just pay the extra costs to repair or replace their things after a disaster. However, they may not know that you can dispute the amount that your carrier is willing to give you. It doesn’t amount to just arguing, though. You’ll need to work with your carrier and your agent so that they can get you the claims payout you need. Here’s the proper way to dispute your insurance appraisal.

How to dispute an insurance appraisal.

1. Take photos of the damage.

As soon as you can, take photos (and preferably videos) of the damages. Make sure that you and anyone who views the footage can easily see what was damaged and to what extent. Keep the damaged items in the same position you found them in if possible. This can help your adjuster determine exactly what you had and what was damaged. If you’re filing a home insurance claim, photos of the aftermath of a disaster in conjunction with a home inventory and receipts/appraisals before the accident can help significantly as well.

2. Review your coverage.

Look carefully over the types and amounts of coverage you have in your policy. Make sure you have the type of insurance that will actually cover what you’re asking to be repaired or replaced. For example, if you don’t have comprehensive coverage for your car insurance, a stolen car may not be covered by your insurance. Similarly, if your belongings are insured for their actual cost value (ACV) instead of their replacement cost value (RCV) in your homeowners’ insurance policy, your claim payout may rightfully be a lot lower than you believe your items to be worth (because ACV takes depreciation into account).

Additionally, your policy may have different exclusions to your coverage. So, if you believe that you should be paid out more on your claim, read your policy to make sure that the plan you chose can back you up.

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3. Look at the adjuster’s report carefully.

After an adjuster comes out to survey the damages, they’ll issue an adjuster’s report. This report will either be included with the insurance check or will come beforehand so that you can review it. For general exterior damage to your home or car, look through this report thoroughly to make sure you understand how the payout rate was calculated. If you think the insurance payout is unusually low, be prepared to make a case as to why you believe certain parts or hours of labor are worth more money.

If you’re filing a personal property claim, the adjuster’s report may look a little more itemized. Usually, the report will list, in columns:

  • The description of items damaged
  • How many items were damaged
  • How much the damaged items cost according to average market value
  • The items’ depreciation amount
  • How much you’ll be paid for the damaged item

After you are issued the report, your insurance agent or the actual adjuster may follow up with you to discuss the report and the terms of the payout. If you have any questions or objections to how your personal belongings were priced, refer to the report to try and ask specific questions and get particular clarification. Do not deposit the check, give the money to your mortgage lender or auto body shop, or sign anything regarding the report until you fully understand and agree to the amount paid to you.

4. Get a second opinion about the insurance appraisal.

Typically, your insurance company will decide on the amount of your payout based on the contractors, auto shops, or workers that they’re already partnered with. So, if you don’t agree with your carrier’s estimate, it may be worth it to get a second opinion of the costs from a contractor or shop that you use and trust.

If the second-opinion estimates are fairly different than your adjuster’s estimate, you now have concrete evidence to present to your carrier in order to get the money you need. If the estimates of your second opinion are close to those of your adjuster, you now, at least, have a better reference point for the total costs of repairing or replacing your things.

5. File an appeal/complaint about the insurance appraisal.

If you still don’t agree with the amount your insurance company is paying you, you’ll need to provide a statement, in writing, about the costs you disagree with and why you need more money. Gather up any documentation, appraisals, receipts, or other evidence that may help you prove to your carrier that you need a larger settlement.

In your statement, be as specific, polite, and professional as possible. Outline the exact estimates you disagree with, propose a detailed solution, provide evidence to back up your requests, and give a preferred and realistic response time for your carrier. During the appeal, you would probably want your carrier to get back to you as soon as possible. Therefore, if your insurance company requires additional materials, help the process go as smoothly as possible by responding promptly to them.

These are some simple steps to follow if you need to dispute your insurance claim payout. Remember, your insurance is here to help you in times of crisis. So, as long as you are willing to patiently and professionally work with your carrier, they’re here to make sure you’re getting the most out of the coverage you pay for.

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