Why the Umpire Plays Such a Critical Role in Insurance Appraisal
Any competent Insurance Appraiser should always demand a truly disinterested, impartial and neutral individual to serve in the capacity of Umpire. This is especially important when you consider that the Umpire holds a lot of power when it comes to the final outcome of the Appraisal Award.
It is common that the carrier's appraiser will often recommend individuals with whom they have a healthy rapport, relationship or preexisting agreement.
There is no insurance appraiser licensing law governing appraisal in Florida. This means that almost anybody can work as an appraiser? This requires a buyer beware attitude before you choose whom to hire as an appraiser or Who The Two Appraisers Select As An Umpire. It is not uncommon to see contractor, estimators, roofers. mold remediation contractors, engineers, insurance company contractor vendors, or independent adjusters to offer services as an appraiser or umpire in Florida.
Please note that their many independent adjusters who work for the insurance company also attempt offer their services as appraisers to the Florida policy holder. Even though this may be in direct violation of an independent adjusters Florida license. These appraisers are trying to play both sides? Being able to work only for the insurance company as an adjuster, yet holding themselves out to be able to be an appraiser or be an umpire for the policy holder! These people are exploiting the gap in Florida law!
Many insurance company appraisers also offer their services as umpires too! These appraisers often get hundreds of appraisal files from insurance carriers to work as the insurance company appraiser? This means that they have a financial interest to handle the appraisal work for the insurance carriers. Or they may be offering their appraisal service to another insurance company based on their past appraisal work history for a different insurance company. How can a person that works for the insurance company as an independent adjuster or appraiser? Not be biased as an umpire in favor of protecting their own financial interest for future work? I personally don’t think that anybody that derives the majority of their income working as an independent adjuster or appraiser for the Florida Insurance companies can also be considered as fair unbiased neutral umpire.
Many Florida Insurance Companies even go so far as to have a pre-approved list of umpires that they give to their appraisers to utilize. Even though this goes against the basic premises of using impartial appraisers and umpires! This is a common dirty trick that I have seen over my years acting as an appraiser for the policy holder.
Clearly, choosing a biased umpire with preexisting opinions and views resulting from many years of protecting the interests of the Insurance carrier. Is not in the best interest of the policy holder!
It is my normal practice to formally reject any attempt made by the carrier's appraiser to elect an umpire that is biased in favor of the insurance carrier.
If the two appraisers cannot agree on an Umpire, either the policy holder or insurance carrier shall petition the local court of jurisdiction for the appointment of an Umpire. The next extra step to get a honest unbiased umpire involves the hiring of a lawyer to go before the court. The cost of hiring an attorney to go before the court and get a neutral umpire picked is approximate $2,000 - $3,000. Which is far less than giving away up to 33% of your entire claim if you hire an attorney to go court. I suggest that policy holders have their own counsel present if the insurance company attorneys are going before the court to choose an umpire. You want someone their protecting your interests in selecting an unbiased umpire.
Hiring the right lawyer who is familiar with property insurance claims and understand the appraisal process is of utmost importance!