Demystifying Appraisals for Restoration Contractors

Two appraisers discuss the value of a restoration loss.Some restorers find themselves avoiding appraisals altogether because they don’t fully understand them. But if you’re not using the appraisal process to your advantage, you may be leaving money on the table. From industry legal experts Josh Ehmke and Samantha McCreedy, here’s a further look into how restoration contractors can strategically use appraisals.

What Are Appraisals?

When a restoration contractor sends an invoice to a carrier, there is often some negotiation over the amount the carrier pays the contractor. If the contractor and provider still disagree on the value of a loss after some negotiation, either party can initiate an appraisal. Appraisals are an alternate dispute resolution process provided in almost every insurance policy.

“Appraisals are an independent process where each party hires an independent party to review the claims and determine the true value of the work that was done,” Samantha explains.

During the appraisal process, each party hires an independent appraiser who joins together to determine the value of the work. If the two appraisers disagree, they select a third party called an umpire and together decide a loss’s value. The price they decide is what the carrier has to pay. The carrier and the contractor each pay their share of the appraiser fees.

When Should Restoration Contractors Use Appraisals?

When you’ve come to an impasse with the carrier during the claim negotiation process, you have four options:

  1. File a lien against the property.
  2. Sue the property owner.
  3. Sue the carrier. This requires an assignment of benefits
  4. Start the appraisal process. This requires an assignment of benefits.

Unlike the first three options restoration contractors have, appraisals do not require litigation. “Litigation can be very costly and very time-consuming,” Josh explains. “[Appraisals are] a more cost-efficient way to bring accountability to the claims payment process.”

Conducting a Cost-Benefit Analysis Before Initiating an Appraisal

Before jumping into the appraisal process, make sure it is worth it financially by doing a cost-benefit analysis. To go through the appraisal process, contractors have to pay for an appraiser which often costs around $2000-$3000. If the dispute goes to an umpire, the cost may exceed $3000.

In Josh’s experience, after appraisal, contractors usually get paid around half of the remaining invoice balance. With this in mind, contractors can do a cost-benefit analysis to determine an appraisal will be worth it.

Say a restoration contractor’s invoice total is $15,000, and the carrier already paid them $3,000 of the invoice, making the remaining balance $12,000. A contractor can expect to get paid around $6000 after the appraisal process. After deducting $3000 to pay the appraiser, their expected net profit from the appraisal process is $3000, making it worth it. 

On the other hand, a restoration contractor that has reached a stalemate with a carrier who has only paid $2000 of a $5000 invoice, probably would not benefit from an appraisal. Assuming they receive half of the remaining balance, their net profit will be around $0 after paying the appraiser. 

Important Things to Remember About Appraisals

You Can’t Control the Outcome

Both Josh and Samantha say that the most common misconception they see contractors have about appraisals is that they can control the outcome. Appraisals are an independent process. Contractors need to be prepared to step back and let the appraisers come to a decision.

Appraisals Take Time

Appraisals may be much faster than litigation, but they’re not an instant solution. Appraisals often take 1-6 months.

Prepare Strong Documentation

When appraisers convene to determine a loss’s value, they will look at your documentation. Make sure you have the documentation needed to back up your charges.

How OCS Makes Claims Negotiations & Appraisals Easier

When contractors partner with OCS, our team of experts negotiates claims on their behalf. We help them secure better payouts, and when needed, guide them through the appraisal process. “We’ve come up with a more cost-effective way to do appraisals because of the volume that we do. So, appraisals cost us way less than they cost a contractor,” Josh says. This allows OCS to secure more profit for our contractors.

For more advice on navigating the restoration industry and the insurance claims process, subscribe to One Claim’s newsletter.

Connor Trahan

Account Executive

Hi there! I’m Connor, the Account Executive for One Claim. My goal is to guide our contractors through the sales process, ensuring you’re equipped with all the information you need to make your decision and hit the ground running once aboard. We view ourselves as an extension of your business and I strive to make the process an enlightening and consultative one.
My career has primarily been focused in software sales over a few different industries but the last few years were spent helping general contractors solve similar problems to what we’re doing here at OCS! Outside of work, I love spending time with my family, cooking and boating during the summer months.

Nicole Liesenfelt

Director, Human Resources

Hello! I’m Nicole, and I’m here to champion for our employees, recruit for new talent, and impact culture at One Claim Solution. I find satisfaction in supporting a memorable employee experience and bring innovation, problem solving, and strategic view to the process. Nothing is more important than our people, and a healthy culture is my top priority! I have had the pleasure of building my career in various sectors, specializing in small to medium size firms focused on high-growth. My experience is centered around driving and implementing change, leading high-performing teams, and driving process improvements. I am excited to make an impact at One Claim. Outside of work, my family and I enjoy getting outdoors as much as possible to explore beautiful Colorado!

Elizabeth McGlone

Demand Generation Manager

Great to meet you! I’m Elizabeth, and I’m the one behind all the emails and advertisements you’ve been seeing. As the Demand Generation Manager at One Claim Solution, my mission is to connect with contractors like you who need our services. I’m passionate about having an impact on others and I bring a wealth of experience in demand generation and marketing strategy to create moments of delight, curiosity, and education for you.

Prior to One Claim Solution, I had the privilege of building marketing departments from the ground up at companies in a variety of industries, including IT consulting, first protection, and healthcare. Personally, I love being outdoors, playing Dungeons and Dragons and board games, singing, and traveling.

Alisha Yartzoff

Director of Contractor Success

Welcome! I’m Alisha, and I’m here to champion your success as the Director of Contractor Success at One Claim. With a passion for helping contractors thrive, I bring a wealth of experience in onboarding, customer service, and account management to ensure your journey with us is nothing short of exceptional.

Prior to joining One Claim, I had the privilege of scaling SMB and Enterprise Customer Success teams at fast-growing SaaS startups. With over six years of experience at companies like Mavenlink, Teamwork, and ServiceTitan, I honed my expertise in building high-performing teams and fostering proactive, consultative relationships. This background has equipped me with a deep understanding of the challenges faced by businesses like yours, and I’m dedicated to helping you overcome them.

Eric Terry


Hi there, my name is Eric! I am the Chief Technology Officer here at OCS, spearheading our technical strategy. I have a background in computer science, graduating cum laude from BYU-Idaho with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Technology.

Before coming to One Claim, I served as the Director of Engineering at Slingshot Technology, Inc., a company later acquired by WorkWave in 2021. My professional journey has spanned both emerging startups and established corporations, with a steadfast focus on cultivating high-trust, low bureaucracy teams and innovating technology using agile methodologies.

In my free time, you can find me flying drones, enjoying the outdoors, and spending time with my family.

Cam Smith


Hello, my name is Cam, I’m the COO of One Claim Solution! I come from a management consulting background (Bain & Company) and hold an MBA from the University of Michigan. I have worked at a wide variety of organizations, from Fortune 500 to small-cap, in an equally wide variety of industries. I have over 15 years of experience in operations and strategic growth, and I have spent much of my career focused on developing high-performing tech-enabled service organizations through early stage and high growth phases.

Outside of work, my wife Brittny and I have four kids, ages 13 to 6. As residents of Mesa, Arizona, we love to ski and explore the national parks of the southwest!

Dan Doud


Hello, my name is Dan, and I am the CEO of One Claim Solution. I am super excited by everything we are doing at OCS to be the market leading insurance billing specialist that advocates on behalf of our restoration contractors. 

My professional experiences are predominantly corporate in nature. My career started at General Electric in finance and accounting. Immediately prior to joining OCS, I spent time as an investor at Bondcliff Partners and management consultant with Bain & Company. I also hold an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and got my BS in finance and accounting from Northeastern University.

Outside of the office, I enjoy spending time with my wife, two young children, and our family dog, Whiskey. We live in Charleston, SC and take advantage of the beautiful weather by spending as much time as possible outside at the beach or adventuring around town

Josh Ehmke

Co-Founder and General Counsel

Hi, I’m Josh! In 2016, I co-founded One Claim Solution with my partner Jeremy Traasdahl, and I serve as General Counsel of One Claim Solution. Working in the restoration industry, Jeremy and I saw contractors struggling to get paid quickly and fairly and we knew there was a need for change. We founded One Claim Solution to be this change and it’s been my privilege to see our company grow and to advocate for our clients as general counsel.

Outside of my passion for helping the restoration industry, I enjoy spending time outdoors, fly-fishing, hunting, skiing, and coaching my kids’ baseball teams. I’ve been married to my amazing wife for 20 years and we have a beautiful family of 5 children.

Jeremy Traasdahl


Hey, I’m Jeremy! In 2016, I co-founded One Claim Solution with my partner Josh Ehmke. Working in the restoration industry, Josh and I saw contractors struggling to get paid quickly and fairly and we knew there was a need for change. We founded One Claim Solution to be this change and it’s been my privilege to lead our amazing team.

Prior to One Claim Solution, I started my career as an inside sales rep for Avnet, then moved to Pepsico as a district sales manager. Outside of work, I love spending time with my wife and four children, two boys and two girls!