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Questions to Ask When Hiring a Professional For Certified Insurance Appraisals

Do you own fine art, antiques, or other valuables that you want to properly insure? Working with a professional who provides certified appraisals in NY can give you peace of mind. But not all appraisers are created equal. Asking the right questions when selecting an appraisal company is key to getting accurate valuations. In this post, we’ll explore top considerations when hiring a pro for certified insurance appraisal services.

Do They Have Extensive Experience with Your Type of Assets?

It takes an incredible amount of knowledge and expertise to accurately appraise fine art and antiques. You want to look for an appraiser with years of hands-on experience evaluating assets similar to yours. Have they handled appraisals for the specific artists, time periods, or object types you need valued? Deep expertise in niche collectible markets shows an appraiser will have the right context to assess your items.

An experienced appraiser will also know what subtleties to look for that can significantly impact value. This includes things like craquelure pattern, canvas weave, precious metal marks, maker’s marks, edition numbers, patina, and provenance records. Hands-on expertise spotting authentic details is vital.

Are They Highly Credentialed?

Reputable appraisers pursue credentials from professional organizations that require demonstrated appraisal knowledge, ethics training, and peer reviews. Key designations to look for include Accredited Member of the American Society of Appraisers (AM ASA) and Accredited Senior Appraiser from the American Society of Appraisers (ASA). Appraisers with these distinctions have passed intensive exams and met high competency standards.

Membership in specialist groups like the Appraisers Association of America (AAA) also demonstrates niche expertise. AAA appraiser members are thoroughly vetted and must follow strict ethical guidelines.

Do They Carry Errors and Omissions Insurance?

Look for an appraisal firm that holds an Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance policy. This protects you in the unlikely event the appraiser makes a mistake that results in an incorrect valuation. Minimum policy limits of at least $1 million show a commitment to standing behind their expertise.

Having insurance coverage gives you recourse if a flawed appraisal leads to problems with insurance claims or tax/estate planning. Make sure any appraiser you hire carries adequate E&O protection.

What Appraisal Reporting Do They Provide?

Detailed appraisal reports should document the valuation process, describe each item in-depth, and justify the concluded fair market values. Reports meant for insurance purposes should also include replacement values and discuss depreciation. Ask to see sample reports to assess thoroughness. Quality appraisers provide reports that can withstand insurance claims scrutiny.

Strong appraisal reports will have sections covering background research, detailed item descriptions, valuation methodology, market data justification, limiting conditions, and the appraiser’s credentials. Look for robust narratives, not just checklists.

Do They Follow USPAP Standards?

Reputable appraisers follow the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). These industry standards cover ethics, record keeping, methodology, and reporting. USPAP compliant appraisals give you confidence in the valuation process and results. Ask potential hires if they adhere to USPAP guidelines.

USPAP aims to ensure appraisal integrity and transparency. Compliance shows an appraiser’s commitment to impartial, knowledgeable valuations. Non-USPAP appraisals often lack credibility.

What Are Their Specialty Areas?

While you want an appraiser knowledgeable in your property types, it helps if they have complementary specialties too. For example, an appraiser experienced with fine art may also have expertise in antiques, jewelry, or other collectibles. Broader knowledge leads to more informed valuations of multi-use items like antique furniture with fine artwork.

Diverse expertise also allows an appraiser to spot crossover collectibles that a niche specialist might miss. This avoids assets being undervalued by someone without the full contextual knowledge.

Do They Have Lab Affiliations?

Some appraisal firms have direct affiliations with authentication labs, giving them trusted access to scientists, research, and testing capabilities. This asset can be invaluable for confirming the authenticity of high-value fine art and antiques when needed to complete an accurate appraisal.

Ask about what types of testing they can facilitate, like paint analysis, canvas examination, wood identification, gemstone verification, and more. On-demand lab access ensures appraisals of rare/costly items can be properly authenticated.

Finding the right appraisal expert means asking the right questions upfront. Be sure to choose an experienced professional with specialty knowledge of your property types. Confirm they have top-tier credentials, insurance, reporting capabilities, and lab access if required. Taking the time to vet an appraiser gives you confidence you’ll receive certified insurance appraisal services you can count on.