That you will file an insurance claim of some kind this year. The better prepared you are, the easier the process will be. If this is a restoration project on your home or business property, it’s a complex process involving at least 4 people. The better you know their roles, the less stress you will experience.
Lakeland Restoration, the sister brand of Clean As Can Be Services, will help you work through the restoration process with poise and confidence. This includes understanding who will be helping you get your life back in order. Let’s look at Insurance Agents, Claims Adjusters, Contractors and the relationship between these three types of professionals. We will also look at your role in the claims process.
For the sake of this article, an Insurance Agent is someone who sells you your policy. Claim Adjusters help facilitate the claims and restoration process once a claim is opened. They work for the insurance carrier. Contractors do the work of emergency response, mitigation, restoration and cleaning. They work for the customer. The customer is the insured individual.
Your local Insurance Agent is the face of your policy prior to a claim happening. You are at an advantage if you work with a local agent. Get to know your insurance agent. Use them as insurance consultants, not just policy providers. Ask questions regarding what you read in your policy before you sign it. Have them perform an annual review of your needs based on changes in your situation.
Before you actually need a restoration professional, their is one very important question to ask your insurance agent. Ask them who they know in your local area that has a reputation for quality disaster recovery work. You are not asking them for a referral. You are just asking them who they know. This is important because the insurance company they are selling for, whether one brand or many, may have rules against the agent referring outside the insurance company’s claims office that they represent. Even with your “soft ask”, because of company policy, they may still tell you your only option is to call the claims department. The reality is, you can call any contractor you like and your insurance company is legally bound to work with your choice.
If your insurance agent goes mute on this topic, take your question to social media Social media is the new word of mouth. There is an article here about how to best use social media.
THE RESTORATION PROFESSIONAL
A carpet cleaning truck does not a restoration contractor make. In the “good old days” all the separated a carpet cleaner from restoration contractor was equipment. Research and development has widened that divide to include scientific investigation and metering equipment, increased liabilities for long term outcomes and restoration specific training and certification.
For now, just know that whether you go through the claims line, in which case they choose your contractor, or you do your homework ahead of time, you get to choose who restores your property. You can let your carrier’s claims line do this for you, but that’s not always the best decision.
Because of this it is worth putting some time into choosing a restoration contractor before you need one. This would be a good time to read my blog about “Picking Your Restoration Contractor.”
THE CLAIMS ADJUSTER
The claims adjuster, not your local agent, is responsible for settling your claim. When you open a claim they become the face of your insurance company. As a contractor, I have a ton of empathy and respect for adjusters. They have a tough job.
You probably know what a fidget spinner is. The adjuster is the part in the middle. They are the part everyone holds onto. As the restoration process spins, it’s their job to work with the insurance company to get your claim paid, support the bottom line of the insurance company and work with the restoration professional to agree on a course of action. Talented adjusters can make all three parties happy.
To help you work with your adjuster at my blog article, “9 Questions to Ask Your Adjuster.”
That’s you. I’m often asked, “What am I supposed to do?” As stated before, you get to pick the contractor and you will interact with the adjuster. You will pick your restoration contractor before you need them. However, when you do finally need them they they are likely to hand you a Work Authorization. If they don’t, they are likely a carpet cleaner with extra equipment, not a restoration professional. The Work Authorization is a legal document stating that short of failure to perform, you are committed to pay them for their work. The insurance company, your agent and the adjuster are not responsible to pay your contractor. You are. Failure to do so, provided they did their job well, may can lead to liens against your real and tangible property including your home. So, if you are sent a settlement check, use it to pay the restoration invoice.
“But wait,” you say, “Isn’t that why I pay a policy premium, so that the insurance company will pay for restoration work?” Yes, that is why you pay a premium, but executing payment to the contractor is your responsibility. So, can you get a new basement out of that leaking sink? Not unless the contractor and adjuster are both willing to go to jail for insurance fraud. Expect that you will be paid for repairs that get you to “pre-loss” condition. This includes the depreciated value of flooring unless your policy specifically states replacement value.
Finally, you have the responsibility to do what you can to know what is going on, trust the restoration process and be as patient as possible. I get it. Your life just got turned upside down. A serious loss can takes weeks, or even months, to recover from. Your adjuster and contractors may be in your life for what seems like eternity. Work with the individuals we’ve talked about in this article and others to the best of your ability and it will help things go smoothly and as quickly as possible.
Eric Nei the Cleaning Guy