Appraising After a Hurricane

Hurricane season is in full force; September is the most common month for hurricanes to make landfall in the United States. We have seen scenes of widespread devastation in Louisiana and Texas. Appraisers in Louisiana are already receiving requests to reinspect properties after hurricane Ida left a trail of destruction.

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A couple of things you should consider before accepting an assignment to reinspect a property immediately after a hurricane passed through an area:

Have you previously prepared an appraisal of the property? If you did not complete an interior and exterior appraisal of the subject property prior to the hurricane, then what do you have to compare the current condition of the property with? You should consider turning down assignments for reinspection or updates if you did not recently prepare an appraisal.

How recently did you prepare the prior appraisal report? A report completed 2 years ago might not be an accurate snapshot to compare the current condition with; you should consider turning down this assignment.

In the circumstances above it might be more appropriate to complete a full appraisal or disaster area appraisal (exterior observations regarding the neighborhood and subject property, etc. subject to a requirement that an appraisal will be ordered if damage is noted to the subject or subject’s neighborhood).

When completing a reinspection, update, disaster area appraisal, or a full appraisal after a hurricane it is important to add language to define the limits of an appraiser’s professional service. Below is suggested language that you could amend to suit your assignment needs:

"Appraiser is not a building inspector, contractor or engineer. Appraiser conducted a visual inspection of only the accessible areas. Appraiser makes no guarantees about the structural integrity of the property and assumes no adverse conditions exist. An expert should be consulted and further inspection conducted if there are any concerns about structural integrity."

Do not comment on issues that is outside the scope of an appraiser’s professional expertise, for instance: describe the damage or condition observed during your visual inspection but do not make conclusions about the condition and do not include a cost to repair.

If damage is observed you should make the report ‘subject to repair’ or if necessary ‘subject to inspection’ by a relevant expert.

What do you do if you are requested to certify that repairs were made in a satisfactory manner and issue a completion certificate? We recommend you request a copy of the expert report (if relevant) and repair invoices. During your visual inspection of the repairs take photographs of the repairs, include the photographs, report and invoices as addenda to your completion certificate and add a statement that per your visual observations and in reliance on the enclosed expert report and invoice/s it appears that the repairs were completed.

Photographs. We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to take as many pictures as needed. You need not include it all in your report. However photographic evidence goes a long way to confirm the condition of a property at the time of your inspections.

A final thought, always trust your gut. If you are not comfortable with an assignment, turn it down. Better safe, than sued.

To read more about appraising after natural disasters, link to our website at:
liability.com/claim-alerts/appraising-after-a-natural-disaster.aspx.


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