There are two important reasons you want to invest 10 minutes to read this article. First, knowing this stuff will make your life much, much easier some time in the future. Second, the study of probability tells us that the likelihood of any one bad thing happening that requires an insurance claim toward your home or business is pretty small. But the likelihood of something bad happening is pretty high. How high? About one is seven households will file an insurance claim of some sort in any given year.
That may seem incredulous, but only until you consider the short list of what can trigger an insurance claim: overflowing toilet, septic or city sewer back up, excessive rain, fast melting snow, leaking or broken water pipe, cracked ice maker supply line, hot water heater failing, hose left on an exterior water bib that freezes, excessive rain, failed sump pump, mold growth from a poorly insulated exterior wall, and attic mold growth from water intrusion due to ice dams. And this is the short list.
Now that you see the need, lets talk about the two types of restoration contractors; captured and independent. Captured, also called preferred or program contractors by insurance carrier, have negotiated with the insurance companies to become "preferred or program" contractors in exchange for higher volume of business through referrals from these insurance companies. That is why I prefer the term "captured" to define these contractors. Their revenue stream has become captured in this exchange process. They are the ones who automatically get the call from the insurance company when you call the claims line. On the other hand, independent contractors are just that; they are independent, not beholden to insurance companies in any way. They get their work from local presence and quality work.
Independent contractors secure their work through their own local presence and quality work. When they arrive on the scene they have one, singular, focus. That focus is to take care of you in the shortest time possible. There are no divided loyalties. They are not beholden to the insurance company in any way. For the independent contractor, taking care of you means "People first, then property." Good ones make sure you feel cared for and that your home or business is cared for in the best possible way. Acting otherwise is business suicide, because you will tell others, including your agent and insurance carrier.
Now that you know the two types of contractors, lets talk about how to pick the one restoration contractor you want to work with.
Second, make a few calls before you have a flooded basement or black mold growing in your home. Here are a few questions to help you with the interviewing of restoration contractors.
- How did you learn your trade? (A combination of experience AND professional training are the benchmark.)
- How do you select, train and manage your employees? (Do they go through an interview and background check?)
- What restoration certifications do you have and why? (There are many easily accessible certification programs. Professional companies make a commitment to their employees and customers by having people on their team appropriately trained.)
- Will you have your insurance provider send a letter of notice directly to me demonstrating appropriate liability and workers compensation insurance appropriate for this work? (This is non-negotiable and restoration coverage requires a "non-standard." This is a policy that specifically covers restoration work and usually is not part of general business insurance. If they answer with anything but "Yes" move on to the next contractor.)
- Do you work with sub contractors and if so, how are they managed? (At a minimum, sub-contractors need to carry their own insurance, which you need to get a copy of from the sub-contractors insurance provider.)
- Are you the person who will arrive on site when I have an emergency? (It's always good to know who will arrive at your home.)
- What is your average response time to investigate a situation? (Fast matters most. The longer water is in your basement, or any part of your home, the worse it gets. Investigation is the process that begins to determine the extent of the damage. It does not include setting any drying equipment.)
- What is your average response time to start extracting water or treating mold once I decides to work with you? (This will suggest if the company is taking on more work than they can handle. In a water loss, a couple hours is the norm unless your area is something like torrential rains that affect many homes at the same time.)
- Can I expect 24 by 7 by 365 response, and how do you cover your phones? (Small companies may not use a live answering service. In this case they should use a recorded message to get you the help you need and all calls should be returned in less than 30 minutes.)
Until next time... Eric Nei the Cleaning Guy