Whether your water heater fell over, the kids forgot to turn off the bathtub faucet, the normally serene river down the road has burst its bank, or a 24-foot storm surge in Bell has wiped out your home, Water Damage happens. In fact, that’s why many homeowners carry insurance – to protect their homes from unpredictable catastrophes.
Unfortunately, one man’s catastrophe is another man’s problem. This is true especially when dealing with your insurance company over Water Damage Restoration claims. Is it a catastrophe or is it your problem? Is the flood event covered or not?
Most homeowners in Bell insurance policies exclude certain types of flooding so it’s useful to review your policy before and during the water restoration claims process. If you have National Flood Insurance, you should be prepared with that information as well.
Water damage and restoration claims are subject to all kinds of rules and loopholes and your insurance company knows exactly what they are doing – do you? If you’re getting the runaround from your insurance about a restoration claim, don’t take their word for it. Read your insurance policy and find out exactly what is covered. You pay your premiums for the service that the insurer provides. When it’s time for restoration for a covered loss, you don’t deserve to be short changed.
While many water claims are specifically excluded from an insurance policy, not all are. During hurricanes and major storms, some water damage is specifically excluded such as water damage from a storm surge. However, if your roof blows off and the rain damages the interior of your home, then the water restoration would likely be covered. Beware of the insurance agent that wants to classify damage as something other than it is. For example, if the agent claims the water damage is due to storm surge when it’s clear that the reason the home is water damaged is because the roof blew off, then stick up for yourself and demand that the adjuster look at the obvious.
In these cases, restoration compensation could be less than what’s needed thanks to an insurance adjuster whose eyes are on the bottom line, not what you are entitled to under the terms of your policy. Get a professional involved if you need help. Public insurance adjusters can act on your behalf and get a better settlement offer while specific contractors, such as roofers and rebuilders, can document the damage, make reasonable efforts, and back you up when you’re filing a restoration claim.
Your insurance company wants to save a few bucks while you want to make sure that you can restore your property. You are at odds with each other even though you are business partners. Get a third party involved and ensure that your restoration goes the way it should.
One of the most frustrating things about water restoration is getting a call from the adjuster saying your invoice is too high. During my 14 + years in the water restoration business I have gotten plenty of calls from adjusters saying that my price is too high on this dehumidifier or this fan, etc. This used to bug me until I learned the secret to prevent most of these calls, COMMUNICATION & DOCUMENTATION. Remember that the adjuster has to justify his work to his boss and as long as the price and scope of work can be justified then it will be paid.
Starting off the job on the right foot is important. You should always get a work authorization signed by the insured before starting work. A work authorization will allow some insurance companies to be able to pay you directly or at least get your name on the check.
Then as soon as the initial mitigation is performed, call the adjuster and let him/her know what you did. This can be done on the way back to your office. During this conversation just let the adjuster know what you saw when you arrived and what you decided to do about. During this conversation I generally try to steer away from talking about pricing. If they ask about it then I will talk about it, but for me this is more of an information phone call to the adjuster. At this point, usually the adjuster has not been there and so to call and inform him/her what is going on is my main objective.
Kevin Pearson is a partner in Pearson Carpet Care. He has over 17 years experience in the cleaning and restoration business. He serves on several committees with the IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification) and is on the board of directors of the PCRA (Professional Cleaning and Restoration Alliance). Kevin has dried building in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. He has extensive experience drying residential homes but has also dried office buildings, chemical plants, historical homes, Southern Methodist University, Stephen F. Austin State University, The Toyota Center (where the Houston Rockets play) and more.
Getting Water Damage Invoices Past Insurance Adjusters
Water Damage Restoration - WRT Exam
Water damage cleaning involves numerous considerations. One of the most important considerations involved in repairing damage is that of restorative drying. Restorative drying incorporates four general principles: water removal (extraction), evaporation, dehumidification and temperature control. Understanding these water damage principles will help you ensure that your property is restored to its pre-loss condition properly and with the least amount of risk to your health, structure and belongings.
Drying requires that the affected property be brought back into a proper balance. This requires that water damage restoration professionals monitor and adjust air flow, humidity and temperature properly over time. The first principle of effective damage restoration involves water removal (extraction). You would be surprised how much water wet drywall, carpet and carpet pad can hold. These materials can soak up vast amounts of water. It is essential that as much water as possible be removed from these materials to facilitate the rest of the water damage cleaning process.
The second principle is evaporation. Evaporation is the wicking of water out of saturated materials. Rapid air movement is needed to maximize the evaporative process. Carpet water damage can be mitigated by first extracting as much water as possible, removing and discarding wet pad underneath, then using commercial air movers to facilitate rapid evaporation. The third principle of water-related restoration is dehumidification. This can be accomplished using natural or mechanical techniques. Humidity reduction reduces the risk of secondary damage to materials and contents in a property. Air with high relative humidity is more likely to reach a saturation point where water will form on surfaces, which may lead to microbial growth, mold and other bacterial contamination.
The fourth and final principle of flood water damage restoration and drying is temperature control. Warmer air can hold more water vapor and will better facilitate evaporation in a closed environment. It is generally recommended that water damage repair environments be maintained at approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit, whenever possible, to optimize temperature-controlled evaporation. Applying these principles to your home or business restoration job will help facilitate the proper restoration of your structure and contents to their pre-loss condition. Failing to apply these principles may result in mold growth and contamination. Black mold removal can be very time-consuming, costly and even hazardous to your health if not done properly. Always consult with a professional water damage restoration professional when attempting conduct water removal or mold removal in a home.
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