Iowa bill would change assessment process for homeowners recovering from natural disaster

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) — A bill making its way through the Iowa legislature would impact homeowners trying to recover from a natural disaster like the derecho or recent tornadoes. Home file 2299 would deprive the owner of the right to call on an appraiser to assess the cause of his damages.

Currently, the appraisal process helps homeowners already struggling with damage avoid lawsuits if they disagree with their insurance company.

“We could have an issue where the homeowner thinks the derecho ripped off a bunch of shingles and the insurance company may not agree,” explained Tim Johnson, partner at Smith Jadin Johnson Law Firm.

Attorney Greg Usher with Nazette, Marner, Nathanson & Shea has seen this happen time and time again with derecho victims.

“This roof is damaged due to normal wear and tear, or the foundation of the house is damaged due to natural settlement. When in reality the 140 mph winds that came through for an hour straight just dumped water into everything which is probably what actually caused some of this,” Usher said.

This is a situation where a homeowner may want to hire an independent appraiser to assess the cause of the damage. It’s Something with Caeden Tinklenberg Quick public adjusters work to do.

“When we get to points where we have presented all the evidence we have to support the position and the insurance company still does not pay what we believe our client is owed under the policy. The assessment serves as a way to resolve this dispute without having to go to court,” Tinklenberg explained.

Home file 2299 would prevent appraisers from settling a dispute over the cause of the loss. Usher says that will leave homeowners no choice but to take legal action, which will cost them a lot more money while insurance companies save money.

“You know they’re spending $7-8 million per pop on Super Bowl commercials and a lot of that. You see you know David versus Goliath and this situation is to see if we can’t take advantage of a few $10, 20, 50 million the next time a natural disaster strikes, off the backs of Iowa homeowners,” Usher said.

The bill passed the House unanimously and is currently being reviewed by a Senate subcommittee.

Linn County Sen. Todd Taylor says it’s not something he supports.

“Every time they file a claim with their insurance company, they deserve a fair shake, the current law gives them that,” Taylor told TV9.

The Iowa attorney general’s office was initially neutral on the bill, but is now opposing it. The bureau says this would have a negative effect on consumers.

We have also reached out to Iowa Insurance Institute to get their views on the bill, but we have not heard back at the time of this article.

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