Normally, even in a contested insurance claim (where an umpire or appraiser is used), a proof of loss is required. A proof of loss (sometimes called a proof of claim) is the insured's attestation that the loss occurred and the general nature of it.
You needn't do either as long as you have given the appraiser full right to negotiate your claim on your behalf. Therefore, when the appraiser signs the appraisal aggreement, the appraisal become binding. The case will be closed at that point, with the exception of a coverage dispute which can still be litigated. To answer the question, it is held in many courts that the signing of the appraisal agreement binds the loss and, therefore, there would be no further need for a proof, nor would it be important for the check to be signed. Once your representative (appraiser) has signed the agreement, you are bound to that settlement.
The amount of money you will lose if you take a cash settlement depends on the amount of the settlement. Usually the amount you lose is worth it if you need the cash or don't want the other settlement option. If the other option is stocks then cash might get your more at this time due to the ups and downs of the stock market.
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