Why is it becoming costlier to close a property claim in Texas and other heavily litigated states? In part, it is because the lengthy appraisal process of settling property claims has become an opportunity for everyone involved — from policyholder attorneys to restoration contractors to the professional appraisers themselves — to legally grab as much of the settlement money as possible. Unfortunately, the appraisal process is the norm in Texas, causing the lifecycle of many claims to be lengthened by weeks and sometimes months. The longer the loss file is open, the more money both the insurance company and the policyholder stand to lose. What is the appraisal process? If the insurance cash payment of a property damage claim is disputed between the insured and their insurance carrier, then the claim can move to the appraisal process. Each party then will hire an independent professional appraiser who is competent in their understanding of the loss value and evidence, and who is disinterested from both parties. You can learn more about the appraisal process here. Under normal circumstances, policyholders have 60 days from the date they receive their claim disposition letter to request appraisal if they want to dispute the amount of loss their carrier will pay for the claim. (Of note, this deadline was recently extended in Texas for Hurricane Harvey-related claims.) But here’s the kicker: If the adjuster did not perform a thorough initial inspection of the claimed loss, evidence/damage could easily have been discarded, making any appraisal inaccurate or even impossible. Why experience is crucial for appraisal claims An experienced adjuster will know to treat each loss assignment as if it will go to appraisal; this is one of the many reasons that Mason Claims uses only seasoned claims adjusters. A skilled and knowledgeable adjuster will record, photograph, and expertly examine any and all possible related property losses, compiling the data he or she collects into a comprehensive report and uploading it into the carrier’s claims tracking system. Mason Claims’ experience in states where it’s the norm to take property losses directly to the appraisal process — such as in Texas —helps the carriers we work with move through the appraisal process more efficiently, thus saving them both time and money. Our carrier-clients know that our team of experienced independent adjusters will have meticulously recorded all damage and done thorough due diligence from the commencement of Mason Claims’ involvement. The future of the appraisal process…and how to fix this problem The good news is that many state legislators are aware of the burden the current appraisal process is having on their constituents, and they are working to simplify the process. But until legislation is passed to make the appraisal process simpler, faster, and more transparent, you must ensure that your reports and claim files are thorough and all relevant information and evidence is correctly documented.