This year has again brought us countless hail and extreme weather events. In fact, only Texas has more hail claims per year than Minnesota. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that where there is property damage, insurance claims and disputes soon follow.  Fortunately, property owners in Minnesota and Wisconsin have a powerful tool available to help them obtain full recovery from their insurer – mandatory binding appraisal.

Appraisal is an expedited process that resolves insurance claims disputes without having to go to court. When property owners aren’t satisfied with the payment offered by the insurer, the property owner may demand appraisal to resolve the dispute. Appraisal is available for disputes involving both residential and commercial property. If handled carefully, appraisal can provide the property owner with a favorable forum to resolve payment disputes at less expense than traditional litigation.

The process is quite simple. When a dispute arises, either party may demand appraisal. The insurance company and property owner each name an appraiser. Together they choose a neutral, called the umpire. After a brief exchange of repair estimates and expert reports, the parties submit their dispute to the appraisal panel. Usually the hearing takes just a few hours. The appraisers decide the case immediately after the hearing and issue their award. The panel’s decision is binding.

Insurers fight appraisal actions vigorously, but the rules create a level playing field for the insured. The key to success at appraisal is early investigation, preparation before the hearing, and professional presentation at the hearing. Typically the property owner will consult with an experienced attorney who partners with a professional engineer to investigate and present the claim. Guided by an experienced lawyer, a reputable expert and credible repair estimate, property owners can demand appraisal with confidence.

Lommen Abdo trial attorneys Mike Moline and Kathleen Loucks have successfully handled numerous appraisals, including awards exceeding $1 million and prevailing in the landmark Minnesota Supreme Court decision, Auto-Owners Insurance Company vs. Second Chance Investments. Appellate attorney Kay Nord Hunt guides the trial team on all insurance coverage and appellate issues.