Property Loss Professionals: Who Are They and How Can They Help You?


...usually provide this training. Membership organizations such as the Restoration Industry Association also provide educational programs.

What do they do?

Most policyholders choose not to abandon their property after a loss and want it restored because it is one of their biggest assets. Restoration contractors give the insured the ability to have their building repaired or rebuilt so they can reopen their business and/or return to normal as soon as possible. These professionals have particular expertise in and understanding of how to deal with damage from fire, mold, water and asbestos, whereas most general contractors focused primarily on new construction are not familiar with these specialty restoration areas. This distinction makes a big difference in how quickly and effectively a property is repaired or rebuilt —making it important to choose a contractor with the appropriate restoration experience.

When do they enter the process?

Restoration companies are usually involved very early on and may even be on site immediately after the damage has occurred. Unfortunately, some insureds will start the rebuilding process prior to having their claim settled and as a result will end up having a lot of change orders along the way. This can also result in many open items that are negotiated and renegotiated throughout the adjustment and rebuilding processes. The better approach is when insureds choose to separate the adjustment part of the process from the rebuilding— and are firm in wanting an agreed upon settlement and therefore an established budget to work with before beginning the repair or rebuilding process.

Appraisers (Appraisal Process)

Who are they?

Although coverage interpretation issues can arise during the claims process, appraisals come into play when there is a dispute over the value of a loss; the insured, for example, believes the value of the damages to be higher than the insurer does. Disputes between insurance companies and policyholders over the amount of loss or the extent of damages can bring the entire claims process to a frustrating halt.

Most policyholders feel they have no choice but to accept the demands of the insurance company. They do, however, have alternatives — and the right to an appraisal is one of the most effective options available. In fact, either side can demand an appraisal at any time.

The insured and insurer each identifies their appraiser, who can be any industry expert familiar with the type of damages in question. For example, if as the policyholder you are being challenged over the cost of replacing your damaged foundation, you will want to choose a general contractor as your appraiser. The role of an appraiser is to focus solely on resolving the dispute in value.

What role do they play?

When one side decides to demand appraisal, the other side has a certain number of days to respond with the name of their appraiser. Once each side has selected an appraiser, the next step is to agree on an umpire in the event that the two sides still do not agree. The umpire is approved by both parties and is intended to be an impartial mediator, similar to a judge.

How are they compensated?

Typically, the insured and insurer each pays for their own appraiser and spilt the cost of the umpire.

Are they licensed?

No, they don’t have to be licensed. However, it behooves both the insured and the insurer to select appraisers and an umpire who are knowledgeable about the items or structural matter being contested.

How are they trained?

Although no formal training is required, as noted above, appraisers and umpires are normally experts in their specific field. Many also have backgrounds in the restoration and insurance industries.

What do they do?

Appraisals are designed to bring binding resolution to claim disputes when the policyholder and...