In 2019, there are more homes under insurance covers, compared to three decades ago. It is however interesting to note that in case of property damage, very few homeowners understand the right procedure to claim compensation. The following is a comprehensive guide on approaching home owner insurance claim, working with contractors and other factors you should know in the restoration process.
What should you look for in a restoration contractor?
Although most homeowners hire contractors based on their availability and locality, it is advisable to have a specific checklist on what you expect. Some of the factors you should look in a restoration contractor include the following.
Any contractor should have a practicing license
Working with a licensed professional is ideal because of the following factors. First, insurance companies can only work with contractors that have the right documentation to work in the world of renovations. Pundits point out that if the contractor is unlicensed; it is hard for the insurance company to pay for the renovations. Therefore, as a homeowner, asking for practicing license should be the first thing in the hiring process.
Check the contractor’s credentials
Even though all professionals in the renovation world have the potential to restore your home after property damage, different contractors have a different experience. The more experienced the restoration contractors, the better. In order to verify whether the contractor has the right credentials or not, you should do background checks on different platforms. Job boards, for example, offer some of the best insights on individual contractors. On the other hand, you should review their websites and verify whether the reviews are organic or not.
The ideal relationship between homeowners and restoration contractors
The nature of your relationship with the contractor determines the restoration speed. In some cases, how you related to the contractor can affect the cost of the whole restoration process. Therefore, redefining the relationship with the contractor is critical for a successful process. Some of the factors you should consider when relating to a contractor include the following.
All the suggestions by the contractor should get approval from the insurer.
Creating a proper communication channel between the two parties is ideal because of the following two reasons. First, informing the insurance company on the restoration process gives them ample time to calculate the claim and prepare for payments. In case the cost of restoration goes beyond the insured amount, the insurance company communicates — through writing — the amount they are obligated to pay as a homeowner.
Second, it is a regulation in the world of insurance to inform the insurer on the restoration process. According to insurance pundits, creating a good communication channel between the two parties eliminates administrative errors in the compensation process — and future surprises of unpaid claims. Also, most insurance covers have clauses that require the homeowner to inform the insurer on the renovation process.
Insist on written agreement with contractors
Written agreements are not only part of the insurance requirements, but they also protect your interests as a homeowner. Therefore, any agreement between you and the contractor should be in writing. Putting all the agreements on writing also creates a good rapport between you — as a homeowner — and other parties in the restoration process.
Is there a difference between restoration and general contractors?
Not all contractors have the same abilities in restoring your home to its initial status. Although general contractors are relatively inexpensive, they might fail to meet the following threshold. Restoration projects are technical, and therefore, a contractor must have the right set of equipment. Working with a general contractor is, therefore, not advisable.
Second, working with a specialized contractor is also ideal because of experience. Experience differentiates a restoration contractor from a mainstream contractor. The homeowner gets the value for money in the following way. In less than an hour, a restoration contractor can estimate the repair time, and in some cases, they can estimate the value of restoration.
Thirdly, with the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, the homeowner is certain that the process is within the stipulated guidelines. The certification also gives the contractor the power to negotiate the deals on your behalf with the insurance company.
What is the right procedure for filling a home owner’s insurance claim?
In case of property damage from water, mold, fire or asbestos, you should follow these three steps.
- Make a formal notification to the insurance company: Making an official notification to the insurance company is the first and the most important step in the claim process. Different companies have different time requirements for making the notification. However, the universal rule dictates that you should make the notification as soon as possible. There are consequences of failing to make formal communication to the insurance company. In some cases, the insurance company may fail to honor the claim because of late communication. In 2019, making a formal notification is easy. Depending on where you are as a homeowner, you can report through a call or using an online platform. During the notification process, being specific in terms of details is critical. The wrong information is not only a ground for claim dismissal, but the insurance company can sue you as a homeowner.
- Secure your home from further damages: After making a formal communication to the insurance company, the next important step in securing your property from further damages such as water mitigation. The homeowner has a set of responsibilities such as saving lives within the property and more importantly, ensuring that there are no more damages. In some cases, you have an obligation as a homeowner to contact the government agencies in charge of your community. Firefighters, for example, can assist you in preventing more fire or smoke damages and therefore shortening the claim process. In case there were people within the property, calling for an ambulance is vital. During this process, ensure you keep the communication records with authorized professionals — for future proof that the damages on the property occurred.
- Hire a public adjuster: After filling the claim and ensuring that your property is safe from any more damages, you should hire a public adjuster. In an insurance claim, the insurance company has an adjuster — ready to protect the company’s interests. Understanding that the insurance company has an adjuster, to protect the company for paying more money, is an indication that the process is a classic example of ‘conflict of interest.’
The primary responsibility of the public adjuster is to ensure that every figure in the claim process reflects reality. Fortunately, government agencies have ratified working formula, which stipulates the working relationship between the public adjuster and the insurance adjuster. The main aim is to protect your interest as a homeowner. If your restoration contractor is a good one they may be able to guide you or work for you to ensure the adjuster is aware of the full costs involved and get you the best compensation from your insurance.
As a homeowner, you should avoid the following:
First, you should not prepare anything until the discussion with the insurance company is complete. Pundit points out that starting the restoration process without a closure, form the insurance company creates room for misunderstanding. Closure in this case scenario means that there is a written agreement between you and the company on different subjects; mainly the cost of repairing.
Second, you should preserve all the evidence and not through anything away. The primary purpose of keeping all the evidence together is to protect your interests as a homeowner. In some cases, the insurance company may require some evidence that the accident happened. Thanks to mobile phones, you can save evidence in the form of pictures and videos.
Finally, the existing laws give you as a homeowner the freedom to choose vendors and professionals to work with, during this process. Although insurance companies have preferred vendors and professionals, you have the liberty to work with any vendor and professional.