Remodeling University: When your work is insurance related
You were prudent and selective when you evaluated insurance policies for your home. You made sure the policy is issued by a reputable insurance company and that your policy limits are adequate. You have also been paying your home insurance premiums like clockwork for years. Now, that unfortunately you have some accidental damage to your home (fire damage, water damage, smoke damage, etc.) you fully expect your insurance company to take care of you. After all, you are covered, right? Dream on.
All insurance companies are for-profit enterprises. They realize their profits by minimizing their outlays for losses (i.e. paying out as little as possible). The more they pay on a loss – the less they make. It’s as simple as that. There is a built-in bias therefore, for your insurance company to under-value and under-pay your claim. So first, when you are about to deal with an insurance comapny on a loss, remeber the following:
1. The insurance company is NOT ON YOUR SIDE! They are not your friends nor is your best interest their principal agenda.
2. Your insurance company’s estimate of the value of the loss (or that of the contractors they send your way) is (more often than not) but a distant echo of what quality work to restore your home to pre loss condition would actually cost.
3. You are under no obligation to use their recommended contractors.
4. You are under no obligation to provide them with several estimates (all that accomplishes is further enabling them to save on your claim while in all likelihood short changing you of quality repairs).
5. Neither you nor your contractor of choice are under any obligation to work for their submitted estimates.
Dealing with your insurance company directly or with the help of a remodeling contractor that is not an expert in the field of insurance loss claims, restoration work and insurance related repairs, is akin to acting as your own attorney in an important trial. “You’ll have a full for a client”.
So what do you do to protect your position and to ensure your home is restored to its pre-loss condition with no short-cuts and without any potential issues remaining hidden?
These are your to-dos:
1. Never deal with an insurance company without expert assistance (I know this is repetitive. This is because repetition is the mother of skill – a skill I hope to help you quire).
2. Your best bet in a tenured Public Adjuster working for you. Be mindful and selective though. Like contractors and any other professionals, PAs come in many shades of competence and commitment to your best interest. Public Adjusters are paid a percentage of the entire settlement amount. These fees could be substantial.
3. A quick settlement should not be your primary goal. An amicable one, that addresses all loss issues is what you should insist on.
4. Have a ‘top shelf’ advocate contractor deal with the insurance company on your behalf. That means a contractor that is not only excellent at the construction end of things but also one that has great experience and facility dealing with insurance companies, claims, etc.
5. for large losses (you loss might be huge and you might not even know it. Don’t rely on your insurance company for input here) you need a team – a competent Public Adjuster, a top-shelf contractor with insurance related expertise, a reputable remediation company, a sharp hygienist and more. Your PA, hygienist and/or contractor should be able to put together a dream team for you.
6. Last, it is almost never too late to bring a representative on board. Even after a lot was already done to both remediate and repair and even after you accepted and deposited settlement amounts from your insurance company.
The insurance companies have the ‘home’ advantage and they always play to win. Adopt the defensive actions recommended above to level the playing field. With the right team at your side this should be a fair game where things get done as they should.