Most people dread the appraisal and rebuilding process, because all we generally hear about are the horror stories where they try to shortchange you, it takes months to get your settlement, or you are pressured to use their preferred contractor, etc…
Generally the settlement process runs pretty smoothly. The insurance company prefers you to contact your agent, the appraiser comes out, looks over the damage, issues you a check (generally not the full amount – see the FAQ’s) and a detailed list of what they are covering. You then choose a reputable licensed contractor experienced in insurance renovations who reviews the list & either accepts it as is, or submits a proposal / bid which includes any missing items and the cost to complete. Your insurance adjuster looks at it and either approves it or not. If the appraiser approves it, you and the contractor then sign a contract and work commences. Once work has been completed, you write out the check for your deductible to the contractor and you notify the insurance company who issues the final check.
There are 2 other popular methods used instead of the one above; one is called a blank price contingency contract preferred by Storm Chasers. The other one is where a contractor and you sign a regular contract with the full scope written out with a possible contingency clause attached. Both methods above should be written up only for “Like Kind & Quality to meet code compliance” which is all that the insurance company is required to pay.
Occasionally, damage is not always visible and is not found until work commences. In this case a claim will be “reopened” and may require an adjuster to come back out to verify.
While everyone wishes that the damage & problems associated with it did not occur there are a few things you can do to make the process go smoother. The first is not be confrontational with the adjuster or your agent. They are there to do a job, get your property back to the same state it was in before the issue happened & get you back on your feet again. Unfortunately, sometimes you and an adjuster may not see eye to eye and it is time to review your policy for the escalation clauses. Generally you would contact your agent or claims specialist and state your specific issues that you are having. You can request that another appraiser be sent out.
If they still do not live up to their obligations, you should then send a written explanation of the issues to the Claims Manager. If you are still running into issues you should contact Alabama’s Insurance Department (Full List of other State’s Insurance Departments). If all else fails you should consult with a lawyer that specializes in these issues. You can also use a Public Adjuster, but remember they charge a fee for their services which is not refundable under most insurance policies (typically 10% to 15%). If you do elect to go with an adjuster to help mediate your insurance claim make sure they are licensed by your State’s Insurance Department.
Hopefully you choose a reputable Alabama State licensed contractor experienced in insurance renovations to perform your renovations, because the contract between you & the contractor is just that. The insurance company has nothing to do with the rebuilding phase, even if you use one of their recommended contractors.�
For more information covering these subjects in more depth, we recommend checking out the Insurance Information Institute & the NAIC.