Homeowner’s Can Choose Their Disaster Service Provider

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One of our biggest frustrations as a professional disaster remediation company, is when homeowner’s are given misleading information.  One of the biggest  misconceptions we see is when an adjuster or insurer tells a homeowner that they have to use certain remediation companies for their home repair.  We think it is important to preserve homeowner choice, and in this matter, Colorado law agrees with us.(House Bill 13-1062).

As a public representative, an insurance adjuster is obligated to serve the interests of their customer above all others.   An adjuster cannot direct a homeowner to any company they have a financial interest in, whether direct or indirect.    Adjusters are prohibited from activity that looks like a conflict of interest, such as referring clients to their preferred mitigation company if there is no objectivity behind the decision.

Recently, we heard of a competing company, who had responded to a weekend emergency call, made by the homeowner, being removed from the job when the homeowner’s insurance adjuster told them they needed to use a specific company.  The responding company left the job site, and the adjuster’s specified company took over.  What the homeowner did not know, is that Colorado law, prohibits this action if it is not in their best interest.   Even more unethical, is that this adjuster may have an indirect financial benefit from recommending the specified company, as their spouse is reported to be an employee of one of the specified company’s franchises.

In addition, delaying the homeowner’s repairs, by replacing an emergency response team could conceivably have led to more extensive damage.  Clearly, this was not in the home owner’s best interest and the adjuster lacks the necessary good faith protection of the homeowner.   Not to mention that the company that responded, lost a job they had been called to complete.

In some cases, the adjuster may believe one remediation company is superior to another, and may make a recommendation based upon this opinion.  They are obligated however, to be objective in this assessment.  If your insurance adjuster recommends a specific company for your repairs, know that you are not required to comply.   You may always choose who works at your home.  In fact, it might be worthwhile to ask the adjuster why they are directing you towards one company over another to make certain your best interests are being protected.

Does Your Insurance Cover Water Damage in Your Home: 5 Things You Should Know

Photo by L Church
Photo by L Church

Indoor plumbing is a modern convenience that first appeared in homes in the late 1800’s.  When everything goes right, it brings you your hot shower and fresh drinking water.   However, when things go wrong, such as a ruptured water line, failed hot water tank or overflowing toilet, water can wreak havoc in you home.

These unexpected events are more common than you may think and can be very costly to clean up and repair.  Fortunately, the majority of home owner’s insurance policies have coverage for sudden, accidental water events.   There are instances however, such as neglected maintenance or failure to fix a leak the first time you have water damage that can lead to a loss of coverage.  Check out these five important tips to make sure your water loss is covered.

Keep Your Homeowner’s or Renter’s Insurance Current:   Your home and your possessions likely represent one of your most significant investments and are where a majority of your wealth lies.   More often than you might guess, homeowners and renters find themselves without insurance coverage following a damaging water event.  Missing payments and letting policies lapse are common causes of lost coverage.

Make sure you have a plan in place to monitor your insurance coverage (eg. when premiums are due, when your policy is due for renewal, what your coverage is).

Don’t Defer General Home Maintenance:   Besides just making good sense, preventative maintenance may be effective enough to eliminate water events altogether.  Checking pipes for leaks, making sure plumbing fixtures are installed properly and monitoring the condition of your roof can be small steps to prevent much larger repair and replacement steps down the road.

Knowing the most common as well as the less known areas of maintenance are important.  “Most homeowners and business owners may not realize that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their house or sewer lateral – the pipeline between the city sanitary sewer main, usually located under the street, and the building”, sources at The Insurance Institute report.

Insurance coverage may not pay for the repair of damage caused by leaks that have been ongoing and not repaired.  It is important to repair any water damage or leaks as soon as possible after they occur, rather than allow several events to happen before making the repair.  Otherwise, you may end up paying the bill.

Make Sure You Have Coverage for Septic or Sewage Back Up:  Many policies may not include damage related to sewer back up.  Often, this type of coverage is a add-on to your policy at a relatively low cost of $40-$50 per year according to several insurance websites.  Sewer back ups are one of the more common water events our company sees throughout the year.

Report Water Damage as Soon as Possible:  When you discover water damage in your home, you should call your insurance company as soon as possible.  They will initiate a claim on your behalf and will often provide a local insurance adjuster to review and approve your claim.  Timely reporting will give you the best opportunity for coverage as well as expedite the restoration of repair of the damage to your home.

Team up With Your Mitigation Company:   Dealing with insurance companies can be time consuming and challenging.  Your professional mitigation company  will work directly with your insurance adjuster, on and off-site, to make sure you receive the full coverage you are entitled to.

Experienced technicians speak “insurance language” and are knowledgeable regarding industry standards for water mitigation services and repair.  They can assist you in understanding the entire claim’s process.  We recommend not accepting any insurance settlement offer for your property damage without first consulting a professional mitigation company to make sure that you and your insurance adjuster, fully understand the extent of damage and the likely cost of repairing your home back to pre-event condition.