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Been in a Car Wreck? What Exactly is an Insurance Appraisal?

Been in a Car Wreck? What Exactly is an Insurance Appraisal?

Being in a car accident is not a fun experienced for anyone. But what happens if you can’t come to an agreement with your insurance company over the costs of repairing your vehicle, or the cost of replacing it entirely? In this situation, something is known as an “insurance appraisal” may help you get the money you deserve. So, if you’ve been in a car wreck, what exactly is an insurance appraisal?

What Is an Insurance Appraisal and Why Are They Necessary?

An automotive insurance appraisal is a process in which a qualified individual appraises, or determines, the value of the vehicle after an accident, as well as the potential costs to repair the vehicle back to its original working condition. This will allow both you and your insurance company to determine what a fair settlement is that should be awarded.

An appraisal clause is something that is in many, but not all, auto insurance policies – usually under the “Damage to Your Auto” section of the policy. This clause may be invoked by either party – you or your insurance company – if there is a dispute over the costs of repairing your vehicle.

The Appraisal Process

The first step in any appraisal process is invoking the right to an appraisal itself. This may be done by either you or your insurance provider and must be sent by certified mail. In the letter, either party must state that as a result of an inability to reach an agreement, that they are invoking the appraisal clause as outlined in the policy.

Once you initiate the appraisal process, both parties are each required to select a designated appraiser. It is the responsibility of each party to pay the costs of their respective appraisers. When choosing an appraiser, you should make sure that they are thoroughly knowledgeable about the claims process and are not affiliated with the insurance company you are disputing.

Once the appraisers are selected, they will conduct separate appraisals of the damages and repair costs to the vehicle. Once they review the cars, the appraisers will discuss together their findings and attempt to reach an amicable decision based upon their information. If they are unable to agree, an independent, unbiased third-party appraiser will be brought in to act as the umpire, and make the final decision on the appraisal process.

Appraisal Tips

  • Never get repairs completed before an appraisal.
  • If you do get repairs, retain all receipts and documentation for the appraiser.
  • If your car is ruled “totaled” accept the settlement payment, instead of having it repaired.

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Sandra Cruz | Linkedin

Based in Newport Beach, CA, Sandra has been a licensed insurance agent in California and Texas for 5 years and is an editor and writer specializing in all types of insurance matters. Sandra is Insurance Online's authority on auto, home, and business insurance and has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, and US World News Report.

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