Do you understand the insurance claim process? What can you do to prevent becoming a victim following a property damage incident? Owning a home can mean dealing with the unexpected – from a tree falling on your roof to a pipe bursting in your bathroom. Because you likely can’t prevent all unwanted surprises, knowing what to expect if you have a homeowner’s claim can help give you some peace of mind. When your home or business is damaged, the last thing you should have to worry about is being taken advantage of. A property owner wants repairs done in the shortest time span possible to get their lives back to normal. And unfortunate circumstances like these are exactly why they purchased their insurance in the first place.
There are many reputable restoration companies and insurance representatives out there that provide quality service to those in need. While insurance adjusters might not always handle claims exactly the way insureds would want them to, only a few behave unethically. It’s the same with restoration companies. There will always be a few who will do whatever it takes to rake in a few extra bucks. They are more concerned about the dollars to me made than getting the property repairs done right. These people are not looking out for your best interests.
What if the insurance adjuster only cooperated with the contractor so he’d receive a kickback? What if his cooperation made the cost of the repairs higher than they should be? What if the adjuster approved and paid for the work even though it was shoddy, incomplete, or not done at all? Your insurance policy provides for payment to you for damage to your property by covered perils. It does not provide for payments for fictitious or inflated damages. It will be up to you to pay attention to the details and consider the following:
- An insurance company representative may try to persuade you to use a “national franchise” type of contractor based strictly on national presence and pre-arranged negotiated pricing; not quality. This practice is unethical, and in some cases illegal.
- There are instances when an agent or adjuster persuades a property owner to use a particular contractor. They receive a referral fee or kickback that is a derived from a padded estimate which is then paid for by the insurance company. The kickbacks are sometimes initiated by the contractors and at other times by adjusters.
- Remember that you have the right to choose your own contractor.
- If you don’t know a contractor, ask your insurance agent, friend or relative and get contact information for several vendors.
- Know who you are dealing with. Check with the Better Business Bureau, review licenses and ensure that the vendor is properly insured.
- Take photographs of the damage
- Don’t let an adjuster steer you to a specific contractor.
- If an insurance adjuster insists on telling you which contractor to use or if the adjuster’s actions seem questionable or even shady, contact his supervisor to discuss your concerns.
- Never let a contractor repair or have access to your structure without your express permission.
- Consider consulting with an independent adjuster for another opinion.
This is your home or business and your personal property – you have rights and responsibilities. Once you file a claim, one of the most important things to remember is to take control of the process.