Q: My insurance company says I need to get other estimates. Is this true?
A: Many times, that is the impression that is given, but you are not required to get other estimates, nor are you required to accept the low bid for the work that needs to be completed. If there is an excessive amount of pressure placed on finding lower estimates, that may tell you that your insurance company is more concerned with saving their money than they are with correctly restoring your property.
Q: My adjuster says that you guys charge too much for your services. Are you more expensive than their guys?
A: Most insurance companies have adopted standard restoration software for pricing, which is widely used by the majority of restoration companies. Sometimes we are seen as more expensive because when speaking with our clients we will advise of a complete picture of both the damage, and the solutions for restoration. As a company practice, we work with the insurance company and with our clients.
Q: What has changed with my homeowner’s insurance, why do they want me to use their selected restoration company?
A: Some insurance companies have what are known as preferred vendor programs. These programs are based on the same principle as health insurance HMO programs and are pre-arranged contracts with their service providers designed to save the insurance company money.
Q: Are vendor programs a bad choice?
A: There are some inherent conflicts with every system. Each situation depends on the contractor, and if they are able to give a real assessment of the needed repairs while avoiding cutting corners to fit the program’s guidelines. Ideally, you will want to find a contractor that will work for you and with your insurance company. Having a qualified independent contractor can be critical to finding a fair settlement.
Q: I don’t feel the insurance company’s phone representative understands my loss. What should I do?
A: Damage assessments of any size really should not be done by phone, especially for the final settlement. If you are uncomfortable working with a phone adjuster, ask them to send an adjuster out to inspect the damage in person. Many times, the bulk of the training phone adjusters have is in administrative cost control. Astonishingly, many have never actually seen water or fire damage in person. Requesting an adjuster to be on-site for an assessment can be an important step in making sure your loss is handled correctly.
Q: What if I am unhappy with my insurance company or their vendor’s assessment of my damage?
A: Many times, speaking with your agent can help resolve critical issues. Unlike the adjuster, your agent is directly affected if you are unhappy and choose not to renew your policy with their company, so is driven to find a resolution when these situations arise.
Q: What role should my agent play in helping me with a problem?
A: Your agent should be beneficial for solving any problems you have with your company or vendor. They should be more than a check collector and should be willing to earn your business when needed.
Q: Are you saying that my company’s vendor program is terrible?
A: Not necessarily. If your insurance company’s vendors can respond to your needs promptly, determine the proper scope of damage, and complete the needed work with quality workmanship, then it is probably a good thing. The problem is, it doesn’t usually work that way. It is hard for a company vendor to work independently from their client, your insurance company.
Q: Why do they use restoration companies that are less than reliable?
A: Most vendor programs are made up of nationally franchised companies. Some of the individual franchises are very good, but unlike fast-food franchising, the quality and experience of restoration franchises vary widely. Some franchises will go through as little as a two-week training course and then are turned loose to start their business. Typically, the less experienced and less reliable restoration companies are cheaper and work below the standard restoration rates.
Q: Their vendor advertises that they have over 50 years of experience, that’s got to be good, right?
A: Any time a company can stay in business that long, it has achieved a great accomplishment. You must realize that many times, franchises use their franchisor years in business for marketing purposes, which can be misleading. Ask yourself how long you remember seeing them working in your community. If you can only remember them from the last couple of years or if the franchise has changed hands recently, you many have a company with limited experience.
Realize that most insurance companies, agents and adjusters, want you to be satisfied when you have a covered damage claim. They realize that you have paid for that right, and that you are entitled to use your policy to restore your property to a pre-loss condition.
Q: What are some signs of vendor problems?
A: Any of these situations should warrant a call to your insurance company:
- If you feel coerced or intimidated into using their suggested vendor
- If you feel like their lack of service has to do with the size of your home, the neighborhood you live in, or the value of your home
- If their vendor’s assessment of damage and repair is not accurate or incomplete
- If you feel their vendor is cutting corners to keep the costs down
- If their vendor does not include you in the repair plan regarding your property