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As a reminder, last year the Gerloff Company started working on appraisals and consulting on a regular basis. Over the past 38 years customers always asked James and Darren to take on appraisal and umpire work. They would always give the same answer, “I will do it as long as it does not take time away from us running the day-to-day operations of the company.” Upon retiring as President of the Gerloff Company in 2021, James found himself with more time on his hands to work on appraisal and consulting projects. James gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in working on property insurance claims over the past 33 years and he is excited to apply it as an appraiser/umpire/consultant.

If you are unfamiliar with a property appraisal, an appraisal allows a difference of opinion in the values of a loss to be decided in a manner other than mediation, arbitration, or the courts. Simply put, “Appraisal” is the method that many insurance companies offer as an attempt to resolve differences between what the insurance company has proposed as the value of a loss and what the insured believes is the value of the loss.

The Texas Department of Insurance website states clearly that “The appraisal process is for disputes about the amount of your claim. It is not for disputes about whether your policy covers a loss. If you use appraisal, you, and the insurance company each hire an appraiser. The two appraisers then choose a third appraiser as an umpire. Your appraiser and the company’s appraiser each estimate the amount of your loss. If the estimates are different, the umpire makes the final decision. The umpire’s decision is binding on both you and the insurance company. You pay for your appraiser and half of the umpire’s expenses.” (Homeowners insurance guide (

The appraisal clause found in Insurance policies is very clear on why it is there. If the insured and the insurer do not agree on the value of the loss, either party may make a written demand for appraisal. The appraisal clause allows for a less expensive method to resolve the property disputes by allowing the disputes to be settled out of court. Litigation is often lengthy and expensive and by using the appraisal approach, disputes are typically settled reasonably quickly and costs are relatively low. There is another distinct advantage to implementing the appraisal clause. With an appraisal, it is likely that experts in the field of the disputed matter are retained as appraisers for the insured and the insurance company at the outset. These experts should be knowledgeable and experienced in the disputed matter. It is hoped that with their knowledge of the matter, they will find common ground for settling the dispute.

Another area in which James can provide value is preparing a comparative estimate. A comparative estimate could help settle a dispute between a property insured and the insurance carrier. The comparative estimate will be a detailed line-item estimate built in Xactimate. Xactimate is a computer estimating software that is widely used in the insurance claim industry. Insurance company adjusters and restoration contractors utilize the program to generate cost estimates on repairing damaged structures.

If you would like to assign James a claim, please reach out to him at 210-394-8401 or His vast knowledge, makes him a perfect asset for anyone needing assistance with the appraisal process or a second set of eyes in preparing a comparative estimate. Until next time my friends, be prepared and stay safe.

Reference: Texas Department of Insurance and “The Appraisal Process” by Michael C. Lamp, LEED AP