Engineer Inspections And Insurance Claims Infographic
How an Inspection Influences Your Claim
Why Inspections Occur
Engineer inspections are a normal part of many insurance claims. The insurer is conducting due diligence. Engineer inspections occur for the following reasons:
Document Damages: Engineers use their experience to document damage. This is particularly important for structural damage and more severe damages. Adjusters may not be qualified to assess these damages.
Identify Cause: An engineer may have special training at identifying the root cause of a loss. If insurers aren’t sure about the cause of damage, they may hire an engineer.
Determine Timeframe: Did damage occur suddenly or over a long period? Engineers use their professional experience to determine how damage took place – and over what timeframe.
Spot Signs of Fraud: Engineers may have decades of experience identifying insurance fraud. They could look for telltale signs of fraud around your property – like signs of arson instead of accidental fire.
What’s In an Engineer’s Report?
An engineer’s report describes your claim in extensive detail. A standard report includes:
- Detailed description of the damage and how it occurred
- Timeframe of damage, including what damage was sudden and what was long-term
- Breakdown of types of damage, including which damage may be covered or not covered by an insurer
- Formal citations of scientific studies and other references
- Industry jargon and technical terms to describe the claim in complex detail
Engineers May Be Biased Against You
Insurers hire engineers to review insurance claims. Although the engineer is technically a neutral third party, engineers may be biased against you.
- Insurers hire engineers to review insurance claims
- Theoretically, the forensic engineer is an unbiased third party
- In reality, the forensic engineer may be biased towards siding with the insurer instead of the policyholder
- If the cause of damage is ambiguous, then engineers may side with the insurer, declaring the “tie” in the insurer’s favor
- Engineers who create reports in the insurer’s favor may be more likely to receive future business from that insurer
- Engineer’s reports may contain technical language and jargon to intimidate policyholders
Fake Reports and Hurricane Sandy
Engineers have a track record of siding with insurers over policyholders. After Hurricane Sandy, insurers and engineers were caught falsifying reports:
- 60 Minutes covered the issue, describing the scam as “the storm after the storm,” and claiming families “didn’t get the help they deserve” from their insurer
- One homeowner received just $79,000 of his $250,000 policy after an engineering report found the home had structural damage before Hurricane Sandy
- Some engineers reportedly received forms that had already been filled out in the insurers’ favor, and engineers just needed to sign the report
- Insurers avoided millions of dollars in liability, and homeowners lost compensation they rightfully deserved
Which Claims Do Engineers Inspect?
Insurers could hire engineers for multiple types of claims. The higher the value of the claim, and the more structural damage there is, the more likely the insurer will hire an engineer to inspect damage:
Water Damage: $5,000+ in damages
Fire Damage: $10,000+ in damages
Windstorm Damage: $6,000+ in damages
Other Damages: $5,000+
Read more about engineer inspections for property damage claim here.