What Are Your Options If You're Unsatisfied With Your Home's Appraisal Value After A Loss?

Having your home damaged in a storm or fire can be a heart-rending process—from performing the initial cleanup and retrieving precious items to negotiating with the insurance company and building contractors to arrange for repairs. This already emotionally fraught process can be made even more difficult if you feel you're not getting a fair value in the settlement of your claim or you don't think the amount your insurance company is willing to pay will be enough to restore your home to its pre-accident condition. What are your options in this situation? Read on to learn more about appraisal umpires and some of the choices you have if you're dissatisfied with the settlement amount your insurance company is offering.

What role does an umpire play in the appraisal process?

Just as a baseball umpire is responsible for calling balls and strikes for each team, an appraisal umpire is responsible for bringing appraisers who have reached different results to come to a binding agreement on the insurance valuation of a home.

When insurance negotiations break down and there is a discrepancy between appraisal amounts that cannot be resolved, an umpire will be appointed to join the appraisers already on either side of the transaction. Two of these three appraisers have the ability to render an award that binds all parties; while the umpire may not always serve as the "tie-breaker," this is often the case. After a decision has been rendered, it can't be appealed or further negotiated. 

What should you do if you're dissatisfied with your claim settlement offer? 

If you're not satisfied with the settlement amount being offered by your homeowners' insurance company, you have a few options. 

The first is to request an appraisal. This can often end in the umpire process, so it's important to be willing to accept the outcome—whatever it may be—before you head down this path. However, having a total of three appraisers weigh in on the value of your home and the cost of any necessary repairs is likely to give you a fairer figure than simply accepting the first number the insurance company throws out.

Next, you'll want to take a careful look at your insurance policy. Often, the dispute resolution processes available are laid out in the policy itself—and you may find that some options (like filing a civil lawsuit against your insurance company) are barred by the terms of your agreement. However, you may be able to seek arbitration or mediation to compel your insurance company to improve its offer. For more information, contact companies like All American Appraisal & Umpire Service.