Appraisals and Mediation - Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs About Appraisal

Collapse All Expand All

Generally that depends on the complexity of the matter being appraised.  You, the policyholder, pay for the cost of your appraiser and one-half the cost of the umpire, if an umpire is needed.  Your appraiser may work on an hourly rate plus expenses or on a percentage basis if allowed in the state where the loss occurred.  The umpire typically works on an hourly rate plus expenses.  The insurance company would pay for the cost of its own appraiser and the other half of the umpire’s fee.

It depends on the nature of the claim and the differences you have with your insurance company.  Generally, if the differences are minimal, Appraisal might not be a good option for you because your costs may be more than the increase in settlement.  Tutwiler & Associates can help you determine whether Appraisal would be advantageous for you.
The short answer is no, this is reserved for the courts. There are some states that allow the appraisal panel to consider causation issues beyond just the amount of the loss to help resolve the amount the insurance company owes for the loss.
The general rule is that results of an Appraisal are binding on both parties. Unless it can be proven that there was collusion or fraud involved in arriving at the award amount, it is unlikely the award will be overturned. The appraisal clauses in insurance policies may vary in the terms. So read your policy or consult with us or your agent so you understand the policy parameters. Also, like a lot of issues in an insurance policy, the appraisal clause may have been changed by the courts through case law. In some states appraisal may be called something different. For example in one northern state it is called “reference”.
We are not aware of any restriction on who can be named as an appraiser. Certainly you want someone who has a great deal of experience in this forum as well as someone with experience in the subject matter. If you are thinking of invoking appraisal, we urge you to consider involving an expert that has a significant background and experience in the appraisal process. Understanding all the issues which include appraisal agreements, appraisal award forms, timing issues, and umpire selection procedures are very critical to your success in this dispute resolution procedure.

If you have attempted to work out a settlement with your insurance company and they have acknowledged coverage but are not responding, or you disagree with their offer, you should consider demanding Appraisal.

The Appraisal process can be complex and the results will probably be binding.  Therefore, it is absolutely critical to retain the very best Appraiser for your loss.  Tutwiler & Associates is uniquely qualified to act as your Appraiser because of our thorough understanding of the insurance policy and how it applies to your loss. Our technical ability to thoroughly assess and document damages and prepare professional line-item cost estimates plays an important role in successfully pursuing your appraisal. Our ability to accurately present your claim to the insurance company’s Appraiser and the Umpire in a manner that will be successful also plays a key role in resolving this claims dispute in a reasonable way.
From our experience the first order of business for the two appraisers is to agree on an umpire.  Should a disagreement between the appraisers occur it is doubtful they will agree on an Umpire at that point, which will only delay the resolution of the claim. In addition to offering Appraisal Services, Tutwiler & Associates maintains several Windstorm Certified Umpires on staff. See our Umpire Services page for additional information.
An Umpire is supposed to be a neutral third party, a person that tries to get the two appraisers to agree.  If that is not accomplished, the Umpire will side with one appraiser and sign an award setting out the amount of the loss.  It is equally important that the Appraiser agree not only with the Umpire but also on the appraisal award form. A Memorandum of Appraisal document may also be necessary in complex cases. Call Tutwiler & Associates if you have questions about the appraisals forms.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mediation

Collapse All Expand All

The short answer is that mediation is generally considered a somewhat non-adversarial process where the two sides in a dispute come together to try and settle their differences after hearing each side’s position. A mediator is selected to work with both sides and generally the parties are separated so they both can speak candidly with the mediator. The process is not binding unless the parties reach a settlement. If no settlement is reach then any information in the mediation is suppose to be confidential. The cost is generally less than an appraisal with the biggest cost being the time put into preparation  and travel.

The appraisal process depending on the venue or unique issues will be binding on the parties. Both sides are responsible for the cost of their appointed appraiser and the cost of an umpire, if needed, will be split between both sides. While mediation can be quicker and appraisal can take longer, sometimes both forums are used to resolve a claim dispute. By going to a mediation first you will have had the opportunity to settle and if not you will probably have had a the opportunity to see the other sides best case which will allow you to better prepare your file for the appraisers and umpire.

Appraisal also requires you to pay close attention to the process. There will be appraisal award forms to agree on a time schedule, and perhaps a formal memorandum of appraisal will be drawn-up between the parties detailing what issues are to be determined in the process.

As to which one is better, there is no hard and fast rule on this. Sometimes it is better to try to mediate a dispute. Other times it may be clear the parties are too far apart and are unwilling to comprise. Thus a new set of eyes are needed to look at all the facts to reach a fair resolution of the matter. If questions about your claim give us a call let us take a look at the issues having served as a umpire and as appraisers we can often look at your issues and give you some direction on what we feel is the best outcome you could expect under both process.