Whether you’ve been a roofing contractor for a day or for a century, you’ve no doubt run into a difficult adjuster. As you may know, there are a few different routes you can take if you believe your clients have been wronged by an unethical adjuster. The first thing you can do is to request a second inspection, but usually that will end about the same as the first. You can also go the route of hiring a public adjuster or even pursue litigation with the carrier. Both of these options are expensive and very time consuming. The last option is utilizing the process of appraisal.
As owner of one of the premier Northern Colorado roofing companies, I can tell you that we try to avoid fighting the carriers 99% of the time. In almost all circumstances, it will take too much of your time and energy to do so. However, there are certain circumstances where the homeowner is deserving of better treatment, and it’s never wrong to do the right thing. In our experiences, the best route to take in these circumstances is appraisal.
Appraisal basically works like arbitration. The homeowners and the carrier will each need to hire an appraisal company to represent them. Both appraisal companies employ or contract with unbiased adjusters who will meet at your client’s home to address the discrepancies at hand. In most cases this consists of them discussing a roof that needs to be replaced because of hail damage.
If the adjusters are truly unbiased, they are usually able to quickly come to agreement either in favor of the carrier or in favor of the homeowner. However, because both parties are employed by opposite sides of the argument, they are often in disagreement. The next step is to hire an umpire to make a final determination. The umpire is mutually agreed upon by the carrier and the homeowner’s appraisal company. His decision will be final in determining if the claim is covered or not.
In the circumstance that a mutual umpire cannot be agreed upon, a court-ordered umpire will be assigned.
We had two cases last year in which we utilized the appraisal process for our clients, both of which ended favorably for them. In both cases, the homeowner was very upset that their claim was originally denied and was motivated to right the wrong. This is an absolutely essential part of the roofing appraisal process. You need a motivated homeowner.
Our first appraisal was completed within 100 days. This is normal as it takes a little time for the carriers to respond to the appraisal demand letter, hire an appraisal firm, schedule the re-inspection, etc. There usually isn’t any language in the carrier’s contract to hold them to a specific time period, so it’s just something you have to deal with. The second appraisal took 10 months. We were working with a very difficult carrier who insisted on dragging their feet the entire length of the process. They even denied all of our requested umpires, so we had to go the route of a court-appointed one. Additionally, our client is still waiting on the final appraisal award, over a year after starting the process. This is a very rare circumstance to find yourself in, but it happens.
With this said, the process does have some upsides. If you have the time, resources, and a homeowner who is on the same page as you, there’s no doubt that you can make better profit margins, all the while sticking it to fraudulent adjusters who may be taking advantage of homeowners. The justification of the process is very rewarding. To be transparent, this isn’t something we do often, as most adjusters in our area are very fair and just. However, it’s nice to know that there are alternatives to hiring a PA or an attorney if you have a homeowner who has been wronged.
Most large cities will have one or two appraisal companies that you can find with a simple Google search. Be sure to ask for references and perform your due diligence like you would when hiring any prospective partner. Good luck!