Is An Appraisal Needed Following An Earthquake Or Natural Disaster?

In the wake of a natural disaster, weather event, or when you are facing an unanticipated catastrophic event, appraisals may play an important role. Appraisals may be necessary to help document loss and compensation from a faulty product or service; however, these are not always easy to provide in the immediate aftermath of such events.

The software for household valuations is not often available during a natural disaster. It can take time for the real estate market and other markets (such as personal property) to get back up again. Likewise, there is often no electricity or broadband internet access in areas where disasters occur, and there is limited availability of data on employee turnover at businesses after such events. In these situations, no appraisers may be available to do a valuation.

What To Do If You Can’t Get An Appraisal After An Earthquake

In some cases, it may not be possible to do an appraisal after an earthquake until the damage has been repaired like mentioned above. Generally there are no appraisers available to document the damage. In this case you can start by taking pictures and measurements of your home and property. It’s better to have photographs or measurements if you can’t get an appraisal with a complete description of each item. However, it’s best to get a professional estimate from a company that does such work. 

You may be able to take pictures of damaged areas and count up the number of damaged items (using the same logic as you would when doing an inventory) and make an estimation based on the damage to those areas. You can also estimate the number of square yards that flood waters or mudslides have damaged and use those figures to calculate the per square foot value loss for each damaged item. For example, if your garage has mud up to the level of the shingles, then you can estimate how many square feet were affected and use that as a multiplier to come up with a value per square foot for each damaged item.

Another way to document value loss following a natural disaster is to ask your insurance broker about using their procedures for documenting claims. Many insurance companies have established routine procedures for dealing with claims and post-claim adjustments. You can follow these procedures as long as you are within your policy limits and deductibles limit.

Insurance Procedures Used When Documenting Claims After A Natural Disaster

  1. Documenting claim loss following a natural disaster is not too different from what you would do should your car be stolen or if you have an insurance claim for a damaged home. You begin by taking pictures, noting dimensions, and recording the cost of each item damaged. In a natural disaster, you will not have access to whatever system your insurance company uses to verify the value of lost items. Instead, it would be best to find out from your insurer how they handle property values when appraisers are unavailable.
  2. If flood waters cause damage, it should be relatively easy for most people to estimate the amount of property damage. You will need to deal with the smoke-damaging effects if it is from fire. If it is from mudslides or earthquake damage, you must determine how the insurance company assigns a value to each damaged item.
  3. After gathering your information, call your insurance company and ask them what guidelines they have for estimating following a natural disaster where appraisers are not available. If they do not have any established guidelines, ask them what the process would be if you didn’t follow their suggested ways of documenting property damage. If you still get no answer, you can present what you have been able to come up with.

Documenting Value Loss After A Natural Disaster

You may be able to document the estimated value loss from a natural disaster by using photographs and taking inventory of damaged items. Estimating the value loss on a per square foot or per-item basis will allow your insurance company and settlement agent to report the damage value to an insurer or lender. Here are some guidelines:

Always photograph the damaged property. This will help when making a claim, and it is easier than taking physical measurements after an event like this.

Make sure to note the dimensions of each item, taking measurements from more than one angle. Include the height, width, and length of each piece of damaged property. This will help make an accurate claim, report damages to a lender, or assess a borrower’s creditworthiness.

Use appraiser software, if possible, outlining the perimeter of each item on-screen or with a video camera. If this is not possible, then delineate the area with masking tapes or string and measure out the area using a measuring wheel or tape measurer.

Lastly, if you know your home is in an area where natural disasters occur, you could start now by making a list that will help you keep track of all your possessions and help ease the stress and fear of such disasters. Having a good understanding of what can be lost in a natural disaster should be considered to better prepare for such incidents.

Why You Should Get An Appraisal After An Earthquake?

So why should you get an appraisal after an earthquake or other natural disaster? Basically, a reasonable estimate of the value of the damaged property after a natural disaster will allow you to make an insurance claim and get reimbursement and give you some idea of how much the damage will cost to fix.

Oftentimes, if you don’t get a professional appraisal, estimates could start high with your insurance, you will probably need to keep in mind that your insurance company or settlement agent will have a hard time matching the numbers you take yourself. You might have to make compromises as you go along with whatever they say since your insurer pays most of the claim and you don’t have a professional appraisal.

That’s why using a professional to do an appraisal after an earthquake is often the best way to ensure you get an accurate valuation and get things paid without having to take any hits in terms of reimbursement.

But that’s not the only reason to get an appraisal following an earthquake. It can be necessary to determine the value of your property for several reasons:

  1. The first is because of the loss of the property itself. If appraisal after an earthquake has destroyed your property, then it will need to be replaced, and the value of that replacement will determine whether or not you can claim on your policy, whether you are getting a mortgage for a new property or if you want to transfer the title for your home. The second reason would be that the damage may have been extensive enough to affect the resale value of your property when you decide to sell it in the future.
  2. If the damage were extensive enough that it affected the exterior of the building, such as walls that have collapsed and windows that are broken out, you would need to contact your insurance company and ask them what your policy limits are for damages from earthquakes. If you don’t know them, you will need to call your insurer and estimate how much it would cost to fix things. Most insurance policies give a certain number of days for repair before coverage is lost, so don’t ignore this request.

When assessing a natural disaster such as an earthquake, please do not assume that the insurance company’s appraiser will be able to give you sound advice about how much it will cost for repairs. In most cases, their appraisers do not work in these situations, and many are limited regarding what they can tell you about making repairs.

This can be a very stressful experience, and you will need to take care of some things to ensure that you get well compensated by your insurance company or settlement agent. A good appraisal will help you determine the value of your property before the disaster. You can use that information to help determine how much it will cost to repair the damage and then how much it will be worth after the damage has been repaired.

Getting an appraisal after a disaster is essential because it helps you put things into perspective, giving you an idea of what needs immediate attention and doesn’t have such a high priority. It may also help you determine whether you will be getting more from your insurance company than you expected.

Get A Professional To Appraise Your Home After A Natural Disaster

As defined by the dictionary, a catastrophe is an event that causes significant loss of life and property, usually through natural forces beyond human control. A hurricane, tornado, or flood can all be classified as an event and cause massive damage to a neighborhood, city, or region. This type of damage will call for a professional appraisal to ensure you get the most money back from your insurance provider. To learn more about this, please call ExcelAppraise at 1-801-882-2292, or get a free quote on our website.

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