The alarm clock rings and you jump out of bed…onto a slushy rug and wet slippers. Yikes! Talk about water damage!
In the first part of this article on how to find the best Atlanta water damage restoration contractor to work with, we discussed why you want to work with an IICRC company. We also talked about the importance of learning how to turn your water off now instead of waiting for an emergency. Finally, we discussed who you should call first. If you missed Part One, not to worry – you can read it here.
Today, In Part 2 of this series Ron Vodjani of One Call Home Preservation, Inc. helps address these areas:
- What’s the best way to check that the contractor has insurance?
- Why should you immediately take a picture of your belongings?
- How can you protect yourself from insurance fraud?
- Why should you be home when the insurance adjuster shows up?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of letting your restoration company handle all of the insurance paperwork for you?
What’s the best way to check that the contractor has insurance?
Ron shared from his own experience, reminding us of his water damage restoration disaster. “I asked the contractor if he had insurance and he told me that he did,” he said. “He even showed me a copy of it. Later on, when there was a problem, I needed to call his insurance company. They told me that they’d never heard of him. When I asked about the name of the company listed on the insurance policy, they gave me the man’s business number. I called the man and he told me that sometimes he lets his friends use his insurance. In other words, my contractor didn’t have his own insurance policy.”
The lesson? Ron tells us to make sure that the name on the insurance policy matches the name on the truck, the contract, and the workers’ uniforms. He also suggests calling the insurance company and double checking it for yourself. You can never be too careful.
Why should you take a picture of your soggy belongings immediately?
Ron told us about his experience as a consumer on this issue. “The contractor told me not to worry about anything. They would move all of my wet belongings for me. I wouldn’t have to lift a finger,” Ron said. “It sounded good to me, so I let them do all of the work. They picked up all of my personal belongings and took them outside. That night, it rained, but they never put a tarp over my things! The company lied and said that was how all my belongings looked already. If I’d taken pictures of my belongings and how they stacked them outdoors, I’d have been protected. Since I didn’t do this, many of my personal items were ruined.”
So, the lesson here is to take a picture inventory of all your belongings if you have water damage. You can use the free “Know your Stuff” app that was designed by the Insurance Information Institute. We’ve also got a Home Inventory checklist that you can download here . Smart consumers take inventory before they have a flood. But even if you don’t have an inventory before the water damage happened, taking one ASAP after the flood can still help you.
How can you protect yourself from insurance fraud?
Ron told us that some unscrupulous salesmen ask you how much your deductible is. Then they tell the unwary homeowners not to worry about it, and that they’ll work it out for them. All they have to do is to let them do the job. “What happens next is that they take the real estimate and then ADD on the price of the deductible and present it to the insurance company,” Ron said. “In other words, they’re overcharging your insurance company to make up the difference. This is insurance fraud.”
There is no such thing as a free lunch. If someone offers to do this for you run the other way, no matter how tempting it can be. It just isn’t worth it. Remember, insurance fraud—even of the unintentional variety on your part—carries a stiff penalty with it.
Why should you be home when the insurance adjuster shows up?
Some homeowners don’t want to be bothered with taking a day off when the insurance adjuster comes. This could be a big mistake. Ron told us that one reason why you want to be there when the insurance adjuster meets the water damage contractor at your home is to keep the contractor honest.
He shared the following story: “Before I had my own remediation company, I was used as the cleaning crew. I witnessed some scary things. One time, the contractor told the insurance adjuster that all of the first-floor beams were burned and needed to be replaced after a fire. Sometimes, depending on the damage, the beams can be scraped and “sistered” with a fresh beam next to it. This time, however, the beams were so burned that they needed to be replaced completely.
The adjuster agreed and authorized funds to be released for this. The homeowner was not there for this conversation. The contractor merely scraped the beams and offered to finish the basement ceiling for free as a bonus. The homeowner agreed and the new drywall ceiling hid the evidence that the work was never done. This is insurance fraud and raises everyone’s home insurance rates.”
Be there when the insurance adjuster shows up. This way you know what the insurance company is paying to be done to repair the water damage. You’ll know what to expect and you’ll be able to make sure the right work is being done safely.
What are the disadvantages of letting your restoration company handle all of the insurance paperwork for you?
Let’s face it: you’re busy. Sometimes a restoration company will tell you that all you have to do is sign on the dotted line and they will handle all of the insurance negotiation and paperwork for you. This could be tempting. There are some advantages to you as the homeowner. You don’t have to miss work. They make all the calls. They handle the headaches, the paperwork, and the inspections.
“To be honest, I like to do business this way,” Ron told us. “That way I can be assured I’ll be paid at the end of the job. Unfortunately, I’ve been taken advantage of by some unethical homeowners in the past and never got paid in full. Be that as it may, I still believe that the consumer wins in the end when they handle the paperwork themselves.”
We asked Ron to explain.
“It all comes down to control of the money,” Ron said. “When you sign over the paperwork to the restoration company, you don’t see the invoices and you lose control of the money.”
We asked Ron to tell us why it’s so important for the homeowner to see the contractor’s invoices to the insurance company. He told us, “When I was the consumer during my flood remediation, the contractor had the equipment at my house for 2 full days. However, they billed the insurance company for 13 units for 3 full days. This meant the insurance company paid 33% more than they should have. This is insurance fraud and hurts us all when our rates go up.”
He continued, “When you sign over the paperwork to them, you have no clue of what they’re billing the insurance company. Retaining control of the paperwork keeps you in control.”
We asked Ron why it’s important for the consumer to control the money if they’re only going to give it to the contractor anyway. Ron answered, “What if you’re unhappy with the job that the contractor did? What if it was shoddy workmanship? What if they never cleaned up after themselves? What if they billed for more work than they performed in your home? If you control the money, then you can hold back payment until the work is completed per the contract and to your satisfaction.”
Basically, whoever controls the money has the power. If you’re so busy that you don’t have time to manage the details, be sure to find a restoration company that you can really trust.
We hope you found this interview helpful. We want to thank Ron Vodjani of One Call Home Preservation, Inc. for sharing all of these secrets to choosing the best Atlanta water damage remediation company – although we hope you never need them! Please remember Ron’s suggestion that your first call should be to your home insurance agent if you ever have a sewer backup, burst pipe, or leaky hose. Our agents are standing by to assist you every step of the way.
Want to get a free home insurance quote? Give us a call or fill out our online quote form today and we’ll help you get the coverage you need at the best possible rate!