Xactimate has emerged as a widely used computer software system for estimating construction costs in the insurance industry. Insurance adjusters rely heavily on this software to calculate building damage and repair expenses, generate loss estimates, and claim settlement offers. However, it is crucial to understand the limitations and potential drawbacks of Xactimate, especially when dealing with unique or high-value properties.
While Xactimate is a powerful tool, it is primarily designed for tract homes. It may not accurately reflect the cost of repairing and replacing custom-built, historic, or high-value properties. Underestimation of material costs and lowballing resulting from improper use of the software have led to numerous claim disputes and lawsuits, particularly in the aftermath of Gulf Coast hurricanes.
Contractors and Xactimate
Contrary to insurance adjusters, contractors and builders generally do not utilize Xactimate for cost estimates. Instead, they rely on sub-contractor bids and their industry knowledge to assess the costs and time involved in a potential job. This disconnect can create challenges when comparing Xactimate estimates to traditional contractor/builder estimates based on sub-bids.
Seeking Independent Estimates
To ensure a fair claim settlement, property owners or their representatives should consider obtaining independent estimates from reputable licensed construction professionals trained in Xactimate, even if they don’t use the software themselves. This approach levels the negotiation playing field and provides a more accurate assessment of repair or replacement costs. Homeowners’ contractors can support and document their estimates by obtaining subcontractor bids.
The Importance of Proper Training
Proper training is essential when using Xactimate. If adjusters or contractors lack proficiency in the software, the estimates are likely to be inaccurate and lower. Ensuring that those involved in creating Xactimate estimates possess the necessary expertise to utilize the software effectively is vital.
The Generic Nature of Xactimate Pricing
Xactimate® pricing is often criticized for being too low and too generic. It is based on a median survey that may not always reflect up-to-date market conditions. Insurance companies commonly rely on Xactimate estimates to determine their settlement offers. Consequently, if the basis of the estimate is inadequate or incomplete, the resulting settlement offer may fall short of what the policyholder is entitled to under their insurance policy.
Supplementing Xactimate Estimates
A competent adjuster understands the limitations of Xactimate and should supplement its estimates with bids from subcontractors. By explaining and detailing any additional increase in cost, such as the uniqueness of a building component or restricted property access, the adjuster can provide a more accurate representation of the actual expenses involved.
The Importance of Local Expertise
While Xactimate estimates may appear impressive with their well-organized and professional appearance, they often lack accuracy. A computer program cannot replace the knowledge and expertise of a local, experienced construction professional who understands a job’s specific materials, time, and labor costs.
Navigating Negotiations and Mediation
Familiarity with Xactimate is advantageous when negotiating or mediating with insurance companies. Insurers often prefer estimates broken down in the detailed format provided by Xactimate, making it essential for your estimate to be comparable in this format. Failure to provide an “apples-to-apples” comparison may make convincing the insurance company to pay the total amount you are owed challenging.
Ownership and Background of Xactimate Software
Xactimate software is owned and sold by the Insurance Services Office (ISO), part of the Verisk Analytics family of companies. ISO offers a range of modeling, rating, and policy-related services for the insurance industry.
- Independent Estimates by Licensed Construction Professionals
We offer independent estimate services by reputable licensed construction professionals trained in Xactimate. Our experts possess the necessary expertise to accurately assess the costs of repairing or replacing your damaged property, ensuring that you receive a fair claim settlement. By leveraging their extensive knowledge and experience, our professionals provide detailed and comprehensive estimates that consider the unique characteristics of your property.
- Mediation and Negotiation Support
Navigating negotiations and mediation with insurance companies can be daunting, especially when Xactimate estimates are involved. Our team is well-versed in the intricacies of Xactimate and insurance claim settlements. We provide valuable support and guidance throughout the process, helping you present your case effectively and ensure that your claim is evaluated relatively. With our expertise, you can confidently advocate for your rights and receive the settlement you deserve.
- Apples-to-Apples Comparison
One challenge for property owners is comparing their estimates with insurance companies’ Xactimate-based settlement offers. Our team excels at breaking down estimates in the detailed format preferred by insurers, allowing for an “apples-to-apples” comparison. By providing a comprehensive analysis that aligns with Xactimate’s structure, we enhance your chances of convincing the insurance company to pay the total amount you are owed under your policy.
- Knowledgeable and Local Expertise
At our firm, we understand the limitations of Xactimate and the value of local knowledge. Our experts possess an in-depth understanding of regional construction costs, labor rates, and material availability, ensuring that your estimate accurately reflects the specific conditions of your area. By combining technical expertise with a deep understanding of local market dynamics, we offer estimates that capture the intricacies of your property’s repair or replacement costs.
- Advocacy and Representation
We serve as your advocate and representative throughout the claim settlement process, working diligently to protect your interests. Whether engaging in negotiations with insurance adjusters or participating in mediation, we leverage our expertise to ensure that your claim is evaluated fairly and that you receive the compensation you are entitled to. Our goal is to empower you throughout the process, providing you with peace of mind and the support you need to navigate the complexities of insurance claim settlements.
Understanding the strengths and limitations of Xactimate is crucial for property owners, contractors, adjusters, and legal representatives involved in insurance claim settlements. While it can be helpful, its generic nature and lack of customization for unique properties can lead to underestimation and disputes. Seeking independent estimates from experienced construction professionals trained in Xactimate can provide a fair assessment of repair or replacement costs and level the playing field during negotiations with insurance companies.