This is mostly a myth. Most adjusters would advise to FILE a claim any time there is damage to your property. Unlike car insurance, home insurance premiums are not based on an individual basis, but by amount insured, zip code, neighborhood, credit score, proximity to fire stations, type of construction, age of home, etc..
Yes, they care. They entered into a contract with you and their business is based on fulfilling that contract and perception of fairness. They operate under the same set of rules in that contract that you do. Of course, homeowners are less knowledgeable about certain aspects of the policy. Insurers have continually raised the bar on customer service and try to quickly and efficiently handle your claim.
Good question. There isn’t a magic spell and, unless it is for emergency repair, it isn’t next day to fix the damage. There is a process which handles thousands of claims that Preferred Service Providers (Eastco is one, actually) are familiar with that lessens aggravations and guarantee the repairs. One often discovers Unseen Damage beyond on initial site visit, so schedules can change.
The Deductible can be large or small depending on the policy, and always applies. Home damage is not planned (we hope!) and can be mentally, physically and fiscally stressing. Since that deductible is unplanned, some Finance it.
The initial Adjustor visit and the assessment of the damage (“Scope of Damage”) is followed by an Estimate of Costs, or “Scope of Repairs”. Then costs in Materials and Labor is calculated by detailed “Line Items”. That initial number often pretty fluid with Replacement Value, Depreciation, Cash Value, Not Insured, Changing Scope of Damage, etc all affecting the end total. The Deductible is almost always paid up front and the settlement is usually paid in two payments of one initial payment, and a final payment when work is completed.
Many people and factors are involved: document creator, Interpretation by Law, Insurer’s Policies, the Adjuster, the Insurer’s Chain of command, the Agent, …. And YOU.
You absolutely MUST (well, should…) be present for the initial Adjuster visit to describe what happened, when, why, how, what was done when after that—every claim has a story. You will not be paid for taking time off work, but the adjusters are flexible and able to answer questions to guide you through the claims process and often has a wide range of construction knowledge. Mutual understanding, and the two of you agreeing to the settlement is essential. If you two can’t see eye to eye, or the for some reason, contact the Insurer. Everyone has a bad day. Or, request a different adjuster—customer service is important as the bottom line. Be reasonable. Be honest. Be attentive. And, Be There.
This common event for all or part of a claim to be denied and should be explained to you. A Valid Claim is accidental, caused by an external factor (not wear and tear, or gradually over time), not involve illegal activity, and, of course, be covered in the contract. If you disagree, one can move up the hierarchy for a better explanation. A reinspection may give a different answer. If you still feel in the right, move up the chain of command. Contract language can be read a variety of ways, but must be interpreted consistently- so much as they might want to pay your claim, they must follow precedent. That works both ways, in fairness.
You choose. You can do it yourself if you have time and the skills, and understand that the devil is in the details—and want to deal with permits, inspections, researching and interviewing the numerous trades needed, and making sure everyone is doing their job on time and in budget and handle the liability issues.
The Insurer will generally repair instead of replace when possible. The first estimate is not in stone– minor disagreements are normal and work themselves out. The math involved involves the damages, adjustments for each trade involved (roofing, siding, drywall, carpenter, plumber, electrician, etc), replacement cost value, cash value, deductible, depreciation, etc.
Depreciation is only applied to replacement, not repair. You wouldn’t pay a new car price for a used car, so why should they? It is determined on a component-by-component basis and has nothing to do with the raising value of the home.
In short, a company that works regularly with the insurance field will understand how to file for and get approved Supplements(unseen damage) for extending the Scope of damage and repair/replace based on what is discovered during the project. They are accustomed to handling multiple trades in the type of work that happens with home damage, whether it be Water, Wind or Hail, Fire, etc.
You don’t “have to” get three estimates. You don’t have to use the contractor recommended. You don’t have to choose the lowest bid.
But, get a Professional…to use a Handyman to repair and rebuild is akin to using a medical student to perform bypass surgery. You are entitled to employ a full-time restoration professional who is licensed, insured, of good reputation, and can demonstrate their experience in insurance damage repair.
No. Get an estimate for the original Scope of Repairs, anything above that is at your discretion. If you had carpet, and want to do Hardwood floors, you can. The Insurer will only pay for the lesser cost, whichever it is. This may be the opportunity to do a larger renovation– Kitchen/Bathroom renovation, walls removed, change in flooring…
The timetable is highly variable depending upon the Scope of work, the availability of tradesmen and materials, inspections and approvals, and other factors. Delays are inevitable, but the insurance industry has every desire for the claim experience to be as short and hassle free as possible.
Eastco has our method of communicating timetables, expectations, establishing material selections which is our Client Portal.
Well, there will be little disagreements. The Scope of Repairs is the blueprint of the written estimate of what exactly needs to be done, and the kinds and amounts of materials needed. It is like a generic recipe, and the trick is to get two chefs to agree on the exact recipe and cost for the repairs while shopping at two different supermarkets. That is where the Line Item list comes in.
Payment checks often include the Mortage company—have them sign first and get the name of the person you are sending it to.
Get an Unconditional Lien Release from your contractor upon payment
Wind damage to the roof or fence or tree hitting a house is usually a fairly quick process.
Water and fire damage is often more involved requiring “dry down” of opening walls and baseboards or toe kicks of cabinets, removal of carpet and dehumidifiers running until the moisture level is lowered—usually a couple of days. Then there may be drywall and paint, cabinet repair/replacement, flooring etc. Fire has more added on to that of dealing with smoke damage and possibly structural damage.
EASTCO General Contractors in San Antonio, Texas was established in 1976. Our expertise includes commercial, multi-family, and residential construction from ground up new construction., renovation/remodeling, and insurance loss restoration.