Insurance Claims - Know Your Rights

May 15, 2014

What you need to know!

 

Dealing with insurance plays an important role when you experience a water damage loss or a mold problem. It's a vast field so today we will cover a few aspects of it.

One question we almost always get asked is: 

 

"Can I use my own contractors to restore my home?"

 

You absolutely can! Many times we hear: "I really would like to work with you, but my insurance company says that we have to use one of their preferred vendors".

 

Fact is that according to California law it is illegal for your insurance company or your adjuster to force you to work with one of their own preferred providers. They may suggest one or more companies for you to check out, but that’s all. It is not mandatory for you to engage with the recommended company or companies at all. In fact it is advisable that do your own research, as you would normally do on all other new services and companies you engage with in your daily life.

 

Yelp!, Angie’s list and so forth are all helpful services when it comes to checking out a company’s work, customer service record and more. Use the Internet and social media channels to conduct your due diligence and check out what other people have to say about a certain vendor.  But just as importantly, check the California State Licensing Board (www.cslb.ca.gov), to make sure your contractor candidates are properly licensed, bonded and insured.  The Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org), is also a useful tool in researching a company’s behavior in the market place.  

 

PRO & CONS of using an insurance co. preferred vendor

 

One benefit of having the insurance company choose the contractor for you might be the feeling of initial relief of not having to deal with all the aftermath of an emergency. You are already overwhelmed enough by your unexpected loss, so having to find out who will be taking care of the damage might seem like a lot of additional stress in such an already stressful situation.  Besides, insurance-approved vendors come with the “label” of being pre-screened, are supposed to be financially stable, and oftentimes offer extended warranty programs for their work. It all sounds pretty good, right?   

 

On the other hand while you hope the engagement of an insurance preferred vendor might be more hassle free, the hassle may have just begun!

 

Have you thought about the fact that preferred vendor programs might be a contradiction in themselves?  When you suffer a covered loss, your insurance company will try to make you whole while at the same time will try to expose itself financially as little as possible. What this means to you is that in a loss, the insurance company is looking out for its total exposure and bottom line a lot more than for you and your property. In reality, insurance preferred vendor programs are more cost control tools than customer service programs.  Preferred vendors are in fact working for your insurance company.  But the paperwork you sign states that you are responsible for full payment to the vendor.  So who is looking out for you?

 

Perhaps, one of the major reasons why homeowners and other policyholders do not question whether they should use an insurance-recommended vendor is Fear. Yes, fear that if deciding against working with the preferred vendor will result on the claim not being covered by the insurance company.  This is a huge misconception.  As long as the contractor(s) you choose are properly licensed and insured, the insurance company will reimburse you or your contractor for mitigation and restoration work performed according to the law.   

 

To get a true grasp of the real extend of the damage to your property you might in fact want to insist on consulting with an independent contractor. They can give you an explicit estimate for the work that needs to get done in order to restore your home. Comparing this scope of work with the one of the insurance adjuster or their preferred vendor will at least give you an idea on whether your loss is being handled fairly by your insurance company.  

 

What are my responsibilities in a water damage loss?

 

Your first responsibility under your insurance policy agreement is it to begin loss mitigation procedures as soon as possible.  This means hiring a plumber to stop the leak and even hiring a professional restoration company to mitigate or stop the loss from getting worse.  If your loss is large, you should open an insurance claim immediately but you do not and should not have to wait for an insurance adjuster to show up before starting with the mitigation process.  Sometimes, insurance company adjusters take from several days to weeks to visit the loss.  Sometimes they just don’t have time to stop by at all.  So this additional time can seriously aggravate the extent and severity of your loss.

 

Your insurance policy in fact requires you to immediately “mitigate” or prevent further damage to your structure or the insurance can reduce or even deny your claim for water damage loss. This means getting a restoration firm involved ASAP.

 

Do not let your Water Damage turn into a Mold Damage

 

Time is precious in a water damage loss and you want to start with the drying process as soon as you can. Water damage can easily turn into a mold problem and waiting can only result in increased damage to your property, not to mention inconvenience to your daily life.

 

Take photographs to document every step of the loss and the clean up process.  Ask questions of your contractor on his/her approach to handling the loss and the approximate timeline for your home to be restored.  

 

Sparkle can help with the insurance claim process

 

At Sparkle, we understand that dealing with a water damage situation or having discovered mold in your home can cause a lot of distress. Not only will we take care of your emergency situation with the outmost care and professionalism, we will stand by you and look out for your interests every step of the way.

 

We help guide you through the complex insurance claim process while bringing back order to your life. Our mission is to be in constant communication with you, our client. We keep you informed of every step in the restoration and remediation process. If you have questions, we are here to answer them immediately. Taking care of you, your family, and your property is what we do.

 

Sincerely,

 

Cenmar Fuertes

President & General Manager

 

Call us today to discuss your situation! (949) 631-1001 or (714) 641-6600.  

 

 

 

 

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