Tim Bauer, Allied Restoration Service Inc.’s Director of Customer Relations, helps break down the process of dealing with property damage and the insurance company in this post.
Allied Restoration Services, Inc. are licensed insurance restoration professionals experienced in addressing the environmental issues damaged property may cause. This is especially helpful when an estate manager is attempting to present a claim to their insurance company for the damage.
Post by guest Estate Managers Coalition corporate member Allied Restoration Services.
Recently, we found ourselves in the home of a prominent American Composer. His back house had started to smell like mold, so he called out a company referred by his plumber to try and help. They were relieved to let someone else take over the headache. The company opened up the house and started working, setting up fans and dehumidifiers.
We were called out to inspect after the insurance company had denied coverage and the mold was getting worse. It turns out that the company they called out had blown mold spores all over the house due to improper set up and racked up a $15,000 bill that was not paid for by the carrier. The contractor was threatening legal action for the unpaid balance.
The Estate Manager’s first question to us was: What did we do wrong?”
We buy insurance hoping to never use it. When we finally do, the claims process can be tedious and finding someone you can trust is a challenge. To protect yourself when you do, we suggest asking a mitigation contractor these 5 questions before the job starts:
1.What happens if my claim gets denied?
Although a contractor cannot make a determination of coverage, they should have a good idea whether or not your loss will be covered. By asking this question, you find out what the company’s policy will be if it isn’t. Are they going to send you to collections or threaten legal action?
As in the case of the composer, many mitigation companies will threaten legal action if these bills are not paid. At Allied Restoration, any time we have a sense that we are on a claim that has the potential to be denied, we go over estimated costs up front to prepare the homeowner before proceeding.
2. Is there a less destructive approach?
Damage mitigation should resemble surgery more than demolition. Wherever possible and reasonable, high end items like hard flooring, cabinets and countertops should be preserved. On the other hand, equipment should not be used to save finish items that are beyond saving. If a wall is wet, a strategic decision should be made on which side to dry from based on the contents of the room and if there are any wall coverings or hard to match finishes.
One of our video testimonials, Nancy O’Dell had a pipe leak in her bathroom that dripped into her formal dining room. Instead of opening a priceless wooden ceiling, we found a way to access it from the bathroom. The tile floor was about a tenth of the price and there isn’t a craftsman alive that would have been able to recreate Nancy’s beautiful ceiling. Mitigation should be more creative than destructive.
3. What will you do if you find mold?
We’ve all heard horror stories stemming from mold. Mold must be remediated wisely for a few reasons:
a) most policies have limited amounts of mold coverage.
b) mold can be a sign of long term damage which could mean a denial of a claim.
c) mold can spread with improper handling.
When we find mold at Allied Restoration, our policy is to immediately contain it using plastic or tape, and interface with the insurance broker and/or adjuster and advise the property owner about next steps.
4. What is your experience with my insurance company?
You want to make sure that you are dealing with a company who knows how to bill your carrier for their services as well as knows what the carrier is likely (and unlikely) to cover.
Many mitigation companies who rely on plumber referrals have a adversarial relationship with insurance companies. Mitigation companies pay plumbers upwards of $750-$1,500 for referring and they have to make that back somewhere by leaving behind too much or more expensive equipment than needed.
Will your insurance company pay for all that? Maybe. If the insurance company refuses to pay for the excess equipment, the contractor could come after you for the unpaid portion.
There is an actual science to drying down a home called psychometrics. At Allied Restoration, we always use the latest calculations to figure out what and how much equipment to leave.
How can I find a good company?
The best thing you can do is to ask a trusted advisor for a recommendation of a restoration company. Oftentimes, that is your insurance broker or a business manager. A responsible insurance broker should always want to play an active role in your claim and controlling the vendors involved is a big way to make sure things go seamlessly.
Shameless plug incoming: one of your greatest resources for finding someone you can trust is the Estate Managers Coalition! Take advantage of the incredible resources and vendors available to you.
If you ever have a flood or fire in your home, as a member of EMC, Allied Restoration is always glad to come out and give you an unpaid consultation, even if you’ve hired another company to do the work.