Tex. data shows appraisal clause process could flip totaled vehicles back to repairable ones

A Texas public adjuster’s data from a lot more than 700 Texas total loss appraisal clause proceedings show insurer estimates of customer vehicle value were typically around $3,500 too low.

On the whole, the insurers might have collectively underpaid customers by more than $2.Six million with their original purports to buy the totaled cars. Additionally they may have deprived body shops of labor by incorrectly estimating the vehicle was worth under the cost of repairs.

“This devastates the collision industry,” public adjuster Robert McDorman, gm of Auto Claim Specialists, said from the trend captured in the data.

The data can be found here, with redactions, equations and adjustments added by Repairer Driven News.

McDorman had originally provided us a spreadsheet depicting 759 total loss appraisal cases that his firm had been involved. The information found insurers using internal methodologies along with the CCC, Solera and Mitchell information providers’ products to calculate the value of customer vehicles. McDorman told the Texas House Insurance Committee April 20 his firm’s process is to inspect the automobile and compare it to appropriate vehicles using the right mileage.

“This constitutes ALL worked claims over this period, not picking and choosing claims,” McDorman wrote in sharing those total loss records using the Texas House Insurance Committee, which this session considered a bill on appraisal clauses in insurance policies.

We discarded one record whose insurer offer price was adjusted to mirror several claim, viewing it as being too anomalous to study alongside the others. We tossed another record depicting a total loss initially disputed however ultimately approved by the insurer with no typical appraisal clause process.

McDorman said virtually all of the remaining data represented vanilla situations where the insurer estimated an automobile value, the vehicle’s worth was disputed, and right-to-appraisal proceedings returned a final settlement amount.

A number of records introduce “noise” in to the data they list insurer appraisal values less than what what the carrier’s IP or internal methodology estimated to be the market value of the car. McDorman said these were instances in which the ACV was adjusted for variables like unrelated prior damage from the price offered the client. However, he estimated that less than 10 records within the entire spreadsheet represent such situations. The general impact on the information ought to be minimal.

Under the normal “to appraisal” process, either the client or insurer can use an “appraisal clause” within a policy to solve a dispute over the amount owed in a claim. Both parties hire separate appraisers, such as Auto Claim Specialists, to evaluate the totaled vehicle or repairable vehicle damage. When the two sides’ appraisers agree on $ 1 value, that amount is binding on the customer and insurer. When the appraisers can't come to a resolution, they accept hire an “umpire,” who also conducts their very own assessment. If the two appraisers agree a treadmill appraiser and the umpire agree with an amount, that value is binding.

McDorman said a few of these proceedings in the experience have revealed actual cash values sufficient the vehicles are actually economically possible to repair.

“In most cases, after we define the Actual Cash Value we circle back around and attack the carrier on the policy limits of liability language and turn the economic Total Loss into a repairable vehicle,” McDorman wrote within an email.

CCC’s 2021 “Crash Course” found 20.Five percent of vehicles deemed total losses in 2021 — meaning shops missed out on the chance to repair one out of every five automobiles. This is up from just 15 percent in 2010. The typical totaled vehicle in 2021 had an actual cash worth of $10,444, that the average repairable vehicle was worth $16.657.

In Texas, the entire loss threshold is the vehicle value itself, as opposed to a percentage of that quantity as you might find in other states.

“The insurer will look in the worth of your car vs. the cost to correct it,” the Texas Department of Insurance tells consumers. “When the cost to repair it's about the same or more compared to value of your car, the insurance company will probably consider it totaled. Some companies might total your car whether or not the cost to fix it is lower. You can ask the insurer what source it used to decide your car’s value.”

Totaled vehicles proved to be worth $3,500 more than insurers think could be a pretty big deal for any Texas repairer. Insurers could theoretically pay for an additional whole other vehicle’s worth of repairs — the average repairable claim was $3,421 in 2021, per CCC — but still be being economical than if they’d totaled the car.

One popular total loss threshold amount is 75 percent. McDorman’s data suggests repairers in those states could have theoretically conducted a lot more than $2,600 in fixes on average than the insurer’s original valuation would have allowed.

The largest dollar-value difference in McDorman’s data involved what at that time was a late-model Dodge Viper. Farmers had estimated the automobile at $95,326.00 using CCC; the appraisal clause proceedings deemed the Viper worth $128,000, a difference of $32,674. Farmers did not respond to a request comment.

The largest magnitude difference involved a Dodge Ram 3500 many years old during the time of the proceedings. Pronto Insurance estimated the vehicle at $6,281 using CCC. The RTA found the18 wheeler to become worth $18,000 — nearly triple that amount. Pronto didn't react to a request for comment.


We had already asked the three estimating services in April if they wished to respond to McDorman’s allegations of incorrect total loss valuations and algorithms “that always favor the carrier” throughout an April 20 House Insurance Committee hearing.

“CCC’s valuation solution delivers fair, market-driven valuations for customers,” CCC said in a statement recently. “CCC uses extensive data from local markets over the U.S. to derive values that are individual to the loss vehicle.”

Mitchell declined to comment.

Those IPs’ answers remained exactly the same when contacted this month about this story. Solera didn’t respond in April but said in a statement Tuesday:

“Solera's Autosource valuations consider three things when ensuring the precision of the vehicle's cash value; accurate VIN identification, high is an exact match from the vehicle; market location, in which you match the automobile inside the local market; and vehicle condition, which can vary by owner. All three elements are critical when determining a precise vehicle valuation.”

Today, Solera's Autosource is seamlessly integrated with Qapter(R). Qapter is our innovative solution for claims management that gives accurate results early in the workflow using unmatched data, data science and repair science to detect vehicle damage. This unique blend of AI/ML, combined with 50 years of automotive claims knowledge, and incorporating an abundant data lake of over 300 million claims worldwide is the reason why Qapter a dependable and accurate estimating solution.

Scope from the issue

During the April 20 House Insurance Committee hearing, Jon Schnautz, NAMIC regional vice president, noticed that appraisal clause activity would involve a subset of shoppers so dissatisfied by insurer offers that they took action. His point seemed to be that this subset may be capturing the most egregious errors and not the typical claim; naturally, the consumers always wound up winning.

“I would not suggest to you that in certain claims insurers're not making offers that're lacking, around the front-end,” Schnautz said.

But Schnautz said he'd no way of putting this in context. It may be a “very small window” of the market, he explained.

In his email to the committee, McDorman agreed that “a really small percent” of claims visit appraisal, but he argued that this reflected deficiencies in consumer knowledge. “I have talked to thousands of insureds through the years, and that i haven't yet hear from just a single one who was told by their carrier regarding their to invoke appraisal,” he wrote. “The percent of insureds who request appraisal happens to be small because hardly anyone is aware of this right. This is something which hopefully publicity from this bill can help to change.”

But the bill would also force the loser to pay the winner's fees. This is as opposed to traditional appraisal clauses requiring each side to pay for their respective appraiser expense and split the umpire bill.

Under HB 2534, if the insurer's estimate is $1 or more short, they must cover the customer's reasonable appraisal costs. However, when the insurer’s estimate was deemed “just,” the customer would owe the insurer’s appraisal costs.

“Just” is not defined, but we presume it’s instances in which the amount determined in the appraisal proceedings is gloomier than or comparable to exactly what the insurer proposed — like the Toyota claim mentioned above.

Both sides would still under HB 2534 split the price of the umpire if a person was needed.

The HB 2534 “loser pays” provision might make exercising the right to appraisal more feasible and desirable for consumers on smaller-dollar disputes. Underneath the traditional “both sides pay” setup, using small-claims court to address such arguments will make more financial sense.

McDorman, for instance, said his firm charges about $800 for any total loss appraisal, and he advises customers to not bother pursuing total loss disputes unless the customer seeks a minimum of $1,600 beyond what the insurer offered. Eighty of McDorman’s cases saw insurers’ offers found to be off by under $1,600.