In recent years, it’s become more and more difficult to find good heavy equipment appraisers in North America to assist with tractor-trailer losses. These professionals are a dying breed and their expertise is in huge demand. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that we have the big young crop of next generation heavy equipment appraisers that we need. Now we find that some companies are trying to pass off auto appraisers as the real deal on tractor-trailer claims leading to a great drop-off in quality.
With this in mind, we offer these 4 quick tips the next time you’re working with a heavy equipment appraiser.
#1 – Don’t underestimate the value of the experienced appraiser
Due to increasing costs of parts and labor, coupled with shops mechanics salary increases, the value of the experienced appraiser goes up; ultimately saving the carrier time and money. If the appraiser is not experienced they can easily agree to unnecessary repairs and replacement of parts that can be repaired at a cheaper rate.
Recently, a claimant presented their insurance company with two estimates of repairs in the amount of $15,971.35 and $15,684.07. Upon additional scrutiny more questions were found than answers as red flags were going up everywhere. As it turns out, the claimant had instructed his two shops of choice, in order to obtain his business, to write up a new cab roof panel, however, a final independent inspection was requested and an experienced heavy equipment appraiser was sent to inspect. The results of this inspection provided that a new cab was not needed and that a repair would be sufficient; for a total of $4,476.03.
The experience and knowledge is what makes the difference and saves dollars.
#2 – Make sure your appraiser knows what the fifth wheel is
One of the most common mistakes when choosing an appraiser is that in the haste and necessity to obtain the repair estimate the experience and accomplishments of the appraiser is often unchecked. Many appraisers coming in to fill the gap are passenger auto appraisers which not an acceptable alternative for heavy trucking equipment; you wouldn’t hire an electrician to fix a leaking toilet. Make sure your heavy equipment appraisers have the appropriate experience, training and certifications. Look for professionals that know what it means to be USPAP compliant and have certification designations from reputable associations like the American Society of Appraisers.
#3 – Can your appraiser identify preexisting damage on heavy equipment?
In another recent loss, an insured’s unit went off the road to avoid another vehicle. The unit was taken to the insured’s shop of choice for a first inspection. The shop noticed damages to the left front corner of the bumper, as well as the three axle alignment; additionally damage to the exhaust was found. Full replacement of the damaged areas was requested in the amount of $9,610.
A review of the estimate and photos by an experienced heavy trucking appraiser found that the damages to the bumper appear to be fresh, but the additional items that the insured stated are visually old damage and were inconsistent with the ditch accident. Specifically, there was old damage at the hinge and headlamp area and the impact with the ditch likely exacerbated it. With damage to the headlamp housing the hood would need to be replaced, however, the appraiser advised that a remanufactured hood would suffice leading to substantial additional savings. Lastly, in regards to the damage of the exhaust system, the appraiser pointed out pre-existing condition (rust on the brace where it had broken). With a final estimate from the appraiser of $4,916 the carrier realized a savings of almost $4,700.
#4 – Getting the insured back on the road
Every day that the insured truck is sidelined with repairs the driver is losing income and that’s why the first task is to fix the vehicle and get the driver back on the road. Assuring that an experienced and professional heavy equipment appraiser is on the job will go a long way to reaching this goal. This appraiser will understand this goal, communicate quickly and effectively with all parties, be technically astute, know where dollars can be saved and efficiently guide the claim to a positive resolution.
We cannot stress enough the importance of utilizing a partner with highly trained and experienced heavy equipment appraisers. Their knowledge and experience is key in reducing claim dollars and getting drivers back on the road quickly; after all it’s your professional credibility on the line.
And they know the 5th wheel is not a spare tire.