Our insurance company hired an estimator who used Xactimate to estimate repair costs for water leak damages in our kitchen. The estimate is extremely low, especially with respect to kitchen cabinet replacement, so we solicited independent estimates from multiple cabinet makers and one general contractor for the rest of the damage repair issues. None of those estimates are in the format or detail that Xactimate uses, so what is the best way to make the argument to the adjuster that our estimates are more accurate assessments of the costs?
The best approach to getting a fair claim settlement is for a property owner or their representative to get an independent estimate for repairing or replacing damaged or destroyed property from a reputable licensed construction professional who is trained in Xactimate®, even if they do not use Xactimate® to create their own estimates. This will level the negotiation playing field for you, the property owner. It is often beneficial for the homeowner’s contractor to obtain subcontractor bids to help support and document their estimate.
We offer more detail in these publications: Xactimate Demystified and Xactimate: The History & The Future. You can also ask your insurer to indicate where it believes the contractor is wrong in their estimate.
You can also invoke the appraisal provision in your policy. That will require both sides to obtain an appraiser. Each appraiser will work with a third, neutral appraiser to determine the correct amount for the repairs. Be aware that appraisal is not free–you will need to pay your appraiser and half of the neutral appraiser’s fee. But your insurer, and you, will be bound by the results.