Florida Insurance Appraisal Process
If you find yourself in appraisal with your insurance company to set the amount of damages for your claim, you might be interested in the ethical rules for insurance umpires.
Last month, the Windstorm Insurance Network or WIND, released their ethical rules for umpires to ensure the fairness and integrity of the appraisal process. The following are the ethical rules as of January 17, 2018:
How Appraisal Works
Appraisal is an informal dispute resolution process to establish the amount of damages for an insurance claim. The availability of the appraisal process for your claim depends on the terms and conditions of your insurance policy. In short, you will need to review your insurance policy to determine if appraisal is available and how to invoke it for your claim.
Normally, each party selects their own appraiser. Often the parties will select the adjusters they are working with. That means the insurance company will select its independent insurance adjuster and the homeowner will select its public adjuster. If the two appraisers are unable to come to an agreement as to the amount of damages, they will need to agree on a third party to serve as an umpire. In the unlikely event the appraisers cannot agree on an umpire, a petition will need to be filed in Court for a judge to select a neutral umpire.
The Appraisal Umpire
The umpire will, in the end, be the deciding voice as to the amount of damages for the claim. To reach this decision, the umpire can and often visits the property to see the damages, reviews repair estimates, and speaks with the property owners, experts, or repair personnel. The umpire’s appraisal award must be signed by at least one of the other appraisers for it to be final. Absent a showing of fraud or collusion, the final decision of the umpire will set the amount of loss.
Integrity of the Appraisal Process
As you can see, the umpire is an important participant in the appraisal process. Given the importance, it is crucial to select the right umpire for your appraisal. Retired judges often serve as umpires for insurance appraisals. In any case, you will want to have an umpire that is familiar with the unique issues that your insurance claim presents as well as being a person of unquestioned ethics and honesty.
The Windstorm Insurance Network has positioned itself as an organization whose mission is to promote education, awareness, and fairness for the insurance claim process. In doing so, WIND has established criteria and standards for its members along with a certification process for umpires and appraisers. Verifying that your umpire is WIND certified helps to ensure you will be treated fairly during the appraisal process.
About the Author: Patrick Russell, Esq., has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1994 and is an experienced Florida insurance lawyer. Patrick started his insurance law practice more than twenty years ago when he represented homeowners and business owners for their Hurricane Andrew insurance claims. The purpose of this article is educational and not for the solicitation of legal services. The goal is to avoid the mistakes learned from the past, specifically those from previous windstorms. Knowledge is power. Information is free. Mistakes are costly. If you would like more tips on how to process your Florida insurance claim, Patrick can be reached at (305) 608-2977 or here.