If you have an insurance claim on your home or have property damage in urgent need of clean up and repair, you will most likely be looking for a local restoration company. Restoration companies work in all sorts of conditions from fire damage to water damage, or mold and asbestos removal. Insurance companies rely on restoration companies’ expertise and fast response times in order to mitigate further damage to their insureds homes and buildings. This includes working in water filled basements, sewer backups, fire damaged houses, and commercial buildings.
The restoration companies work with the insurance companies, but not for the insurance companies. They are there to help put your home back to normal after a devastating loss. If you have ever experienced a claim on your home insurance, you most likely have worked with a restoration company while the damage was being repaired.
Restoration companies see a lot of different situations in their line of work and we couldn’t think of a better group to ask a few questions in order to get some tips, information, and possibly a few interesting stories.
What To Do To Speed Up Your Claim
No one wants to make an insurance claim if they don’t have to, and everyone wants the damaged fixed as soon as possible if they do have to put in a claim. For this reason, we asked the restoration companies what an insured (you) could do to speed up the process for both themselves and the restoration company after they had an insurance claim. We took the best answers and compiled them for you so that you can speed up your home’s repair and get back to your life.
Availability early on in the claim process is important, for both access to the loss location and communication purposes. There is a lot of access and communication required during the claim, so the easier that is the faster the claim goes
The folks from Restoration 1 gave an entire list of things that can help speed up your home insurance claim:
- Identify the source of the problem and have the source repaired immediately (Call a Plumber).
- Move all unaffected contents from the water-damaged areas.
- Photograph and list all damaged contents and provide all available supporting documents to support value of damaged contents.
- Allow full access to the Restoration Company to your property to enable completion of all required work to be performed.
- Work closely with the Insurer and/or appointed Adjuster, as well as the Restoration Company as required during the restorative process to ensure mitigation of the loss and efficiencies in restoring your property to pre-loss condition as soon as possible.
WinMAR below also states how important photos or videos can be at the time of a loss.
Identifying the cause of loss (photos/videos): If this is shared with the adjuster at the onset of the claim, with photographic/video evidence, it can speed up the process dramatically. As the cause is directly related to your policy coverages (limits and/or applicable coverages) it can help us start any emergency services right away. Typically we can see a significant lag at the beginning of the loss as we have to attend the site, source the loss, return to the office and confirm it with a report and/or photos. If this is shared with the adjuster right away coverage can be granted immediately.
Top 3 Preventative Measures for Your Home
We couldn’t think of a better group to ask about preventative measures for your home. Restoration companies are the ones that pinpoint exactly where the damage is and what caused the damage to the home.
- Know where your Home’s main water shut off valve is located and ensure that it is in proper working condition.
- Always turn off the main water lines within your home on those occasions where you will be away for more than 3 days.
- Make sure all downspouts channel water away from your home.
As you can see, there is a running theme across the restoration companies suggestions. Avoiding Water Damage.
- Turn off (and bleed) shutoffs for your exterior hose bibs.
- Loose contents in basement? Store them in Rubbermaid containers
- Shutoff the main water valve to your house when away for a long period of time
In the “insurance world” there is a very popular saying; “water is the new fire”, as water is the number 1 reason for home insurance claims now due to the awareness of fire causing hazards and the extra coverages offered for water damage.
There are several preventive measures people can do. However, there are some quick, easy and cost efficient solutions that can save thousands of dollars in water damage – which is the most frequent type of insurance claim we see.
First off, replace all water supply lines to toilets, laundry washing machine, and sinks, with the better braided supply line. This type of supply line lasts longer and rarely burst, in comparison to the cheaper plastic cap, with rubber or metal lines.
Second, make sure all the downspouts are shedding water at least 2-3 feet away from the home and to an area that drains, versus pools. This really helps to keep water away from basement windows/doors, and keeps water from entering through the foundation.
Thirdly, if the insured is going away for any length of time, be sure to turn the main water supply off. This way if there is a plumbing break the water damage is very minimal in comparison to water flowing non-stop.
How could we not ask the guys who deal with large claim scenarios what their craziest or largest claim stories were? Well we did, and the restoration companies did not disappoint. No one wants to be involved in a claim, but it is the exact scenario for why we need insurance to help us through those large unexpected costs of life.
WinMAR leads off the claim stories and even gives one example where a claim was denied due to the policy exclusions. It is very important to know your policy exclusions that could affect you, your family, or your home. Talk to your insurance broker today if you don’t know the exclusions on your policy.
- Homeowner was away for 3 weeks in December and turned off the heat. Entire house was destroyed by water, and then ice. Claim was denied as they didn’t have anyone checking on their house.
- 1 do not turn off heat in the winter time!
- 2 have someone check on your house every 24-72 hours, or as per your policy.
- 2 skunks snuck in a small crack/void into the basement and decided to fight!
- Happens often: Lawn fertilizer can spontaneously combust. Do not keep in direct sunlight – read the label!
Even commercial policies get some interesting claims:
On new years day the General Manager of a car dealership walked to their “new car inventory” parking and found that the sprinkler line had frozen and exploded. It was so cold the drains in the garage had frozen solid and the bottom floor of the garage was now filled with 700,000 gallons of water. It took 3 days with hydro vac trucks to extract all the water so they could the dispose of the $4 million in damaged “new car inventory”!
CRCS DKI reminds us that when the bad weather events happen and there are multiple claim situations going on, the restoration companies can be stretched thin and have to work in very challenging environments.
The craziest part of our business is when powerful rain storms impact people’s property. July 8th 2013 was one of the craziest weather events we have ever worked on. Areas in the western GTA experienced over 120mm of rain in a very short period of time. This backed up storm sewer systems into thousands of homes, with several basements having 5-6 feet of water in them. Those claims were extremely challenging as they required extensive building material removal, and on top of that an extreme heatwave hit, making it very challenging for our workers to avoid heat exhaustion and/or dehydration.
Sometimes cleaning up after claims is not very glamourous:
A sewer back up had occurred in the home of a Hoarder.
Upon arriving at the home, we were directed to the basement. The entire area had stacks of belongings piled to the ceiling, except for a 2-foot laneway directly dissecting the basement that allowed some manoeuvrability.
As all contents were contaminated and therefore destroyed by sewage, the most difficult aspect of the emergency restoration process was convincing the Owner that “everything in the basement needed to be thrown out”!
Even when you are trying to do the right thing, it can cause a claim too:
An elderly customer was unfortunately in the hospital. As a result, his Son would check on his father’s house every week to ensure that all was in order.
On one of his visits, he turned off the water supply to the outside of the residence as temperatures were about to drop significantly, and he wanted to prevent possible freezing of the water lines and the potential of ruptured pipes.
Unfortunately, the good intentioned Son actually turned the water supply ON and not OFF. The outside spigot spewed water for a full week causing the expelled water to seep through the home’s foundation and flood the lower portion of the basement. As the sub-basement was not fitted with a floor drain, over 3 feet of water accumulated and settled like a wall-to-wall swimming pool. Everything occupying the area was floating.
As you can read above, the largest threat to your home is water damage at this current point and time in history. When you read the restoration companies tips on prevention measures for your home and their claim stories, the common theme amongst them is water.
If you don’t know what type of water damage coverage that you currently carry on your policy, you should contact your broker and find out as soon as you can. Water damage and the resulting long term damage from improper clean up can be very costly to repair. Thankfully if you do carry water damage coverages, one of these fine companies above will most likely be called upon if you have an insurance claim.
We would like to thank the following restoration companies for their participation and great advice for this article:
Thanks to their participation we’re all a little smarter when it comes to preventing claim situations and knowing how to expedite them if they do occur.