The appraisal process is a lot different today than in 1983, when I first started as a lawyer in this property insurance claim business. I can hear most of the people reading this blog either thinking or saying, “No joke, Chip. I was not even born or out of high school in 1983.” But if you do not know where appraisal has come from, how can you tell if a trend is meaningful in what you do for a living?
These Facebook Live Stream discussions have been very helpful to me and hopefully to those of you who watch them—I often say that the person with an open and curious mind will learn a lot when you try to teach somebody else what you know. It gets a little more difficult when a lot of what a person knows has been forgotten or is seemingly irrelevant to new participants. I find myself somewhat in that place for tomorrow afternoon’s discussion, but Larry Bache will help keep me on track as we work through this maze of appraisal honesty and transformation which has occurred over the last 38 years.
So, we are going to break this appraisal discussion into two segments. The “edgy” one will be tomorrow, where I will discuss the non-legal aspects of the trends. It will not be boring because the appraisal process is a method of dispute resolution that is relied upon an extraordinary amount and increasing at a rapid rate. It is impacting everybody in the property claims adjustment business. This is true regardless of whether you are an insurance company manager, company claims adjuster, independent adjuster, a person wondering if you should give up being an adjuster, public adjuster, construction estimator, an insurance agent selling policies that may now require your client to arbitrate in faraway places to avoid appraisal, or a policyholder trying to make sense of all this.
Seriously, we now have an excellent insurance educator, Steve Patrick, teaching at sophisticated levels to people who will be appraisers on how to do their appraisal jobs better. This is far different than John Voepel, Robert Norton, or Jon Doan teaching what appraisal is and how the procedure should be accomplished. But even courses providing for certification are relatively new and did not exist until the 21st century.
Many would suggest that the “gloves are off” regarding appraisal results in Colorado. Evan Stephenson, of the esteemed Wheeler Trigg firm, is leading the charge to sue his clients’ own customers whenever the customers get a favorable appraisal award. From his perspective, under Colorado law it is a heads the insurance company wins and tails if the policyholder wins because the policyholder must have committed fraud by appointing a biased appraiser or doing something else wrong in the claim adjustment. I will explain this Colorado appraisal situation tomorrow afternoon.
And this discussion is not just one-sided. When you read what Stephenson and some others in the defense bar suggest, how can a person appointed as an appraiser instantly become an expert on _____ (fill in the blank)? Appraisal has no written rules, but when people who are not studied in an expert field start pretending to be what they are not, how reliable is the outcome? This used to be in favor of the insurance companies, but now it’s the insurance industry and their lawyers complaining.
This is going to be a fun and essential discussion because a lot rides on appraisals. I hope to keep it to no more than 30-45 minutes so we can have questions. I appreciate our audience, and we are trying to get better with the sound. I will make some predictions about what is best and where we should be headed in appraisal.
But you do not want to miss the first part of The Changing Appraisal Landscape—Developing Trends Of Appraisal Throughout The Country, and here is the link.
And, I suggest everybody think about one thing before we start: Are policyholders getting the full amount they deserve promptly and efficiently from this appraisal process? Insurance companies are in the business to take care of and be fair to their customers—regardless of whether the policyholder disputes the amount of the loss. Does anybody disagree?
Thought For The Day
Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
—John F. Kennedy
Song For The Day
David Bowie’s Changes: