Legislature Wades Into Dispute Over Appraisals Of Property Damage

Statewide Iowa — There’s a fierce debate between appraisers and the insurance industry over a bill that would adjust some rules for the evaluation of damaged property in Iowa.

The Iowa House has unanimously approved the changes, but the bill is in limbo in the Senate. Republican Senator Zach Nunn of Bondurant says he and others want to review the arguments before deciding whether to advance the bill.

Iowa Insurance Institute lobbyist Brittany Lumley says the bill is necessary because a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling gave appraisers too much leeway.

Tim Johnson is the Cedar Rapids attorney who handled the court case that’s at the center of this dispute. He says if the bill becomes law, lawyers like him will make a lot of money taking insurance companies to court.

Johnson is urging lawmakers to preserve the current process that lets a property owner ask a neutral umpire to resolve a dispute over insurance claims when appraisers for the insurance company and the property owner do not agree. The insurance industry’s lobbyist says that option will remain, but appraisers will no longer be able to judge what caused the damage if the bill becomes law.