An appraisal is an estimation of the value of a piece of property by a professional. With homeowner's insurance, houses and the homeowner's possessions are the most commonly appraised items. Both the homeowner and the insurance company can hire an appraiser, but insurers request and perform them much more frequently than residents.


The first type of appraisal is performed before the insured files any claims. Usually, these take place when the insurer first issues the house insurance policy. The purpose of the initial appraisal is to determine an appropriate amount of coverage for the insured's house and belongings. Here are the two most common types of pre-claims appraisals:

  1. Home. A professional appraiser estimates the value of your property for insurance purposes. Usually, your prospective insurance company either has property appraisers on staff for such purposes or they hire an independent appraiser for the job. Your insurer will pay for the cost of the appointment and will use the appraiser's estimation of your home's value in issuing your coverage.
  2. Property. As long as you have a rough estimate of how much the property you keep in your house is worth, you will not need to have your belongings appraised. However, if you have any items of exceptional value that require a policy endorsement, you will need to have the items appraised before you can obtain coverage. For example, if you keep valuable jewelry in your dwelling, you will have to have a professional estimate the worth of the jewelry and submit official documentation of its value to your insurance company.


After you file, your insurer may also send out an appraiser to evaluate the monetary value of the loss. Post-claims appraisals usually fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Structural damage. Your insurer will send out an appraiser to estimate the magnitude of the loss or damage to the structure of your dwelling. For instance, if you filed after wind damaged part of your house, your insurer will rely on the report to determine how much your settlement should be to repair the damage.
  2. Policyholder. Some homeowner's insurance policies prohibit the insured from suing the insurance company in certain cases, but policyholders usually still have the right to request an independent appraisal if they are unhappy with their settlement. When the homeowner feels the settlement is unfair, he/she can hire an independent appraiser to provide a second opinion on the insurer's estimation of the damage. The two estimates are usually reconciled in arbitration.