Whether the damage to your home is due to Mother Nature herself or an unforeseen accident, you should always hire a contractor who is licensed and insured to complete Insurance Repair work. When there is a natural disaster like hurricanes, wildfires or floods, damage to property is imminent. Many times, so-called “licensed” contractors come out of the woodwork and go door-to-door offering their services preying on homeowner’s fears and anxieties over what has just happened to their home. While many of these contractors are reputable, many are not. We always recommend hiring licensed and insured contractors but that’s especially important when you’re making a claim against your homeowner’s insurance to help cover the cost of the repairs.
Step 1: Contact Your Homeowner’s Insurance Company
The first step in making any claims against your homeowner’s insurance is to call your insurance company and ask for a claims adjuster to come to your home. The claims adjuster will assess the damage and estimate the repair costs. Make sure to get the adjuster’s insurance repair cost estimate in writing as this can be used as a negotiating tool when dealing with the contractor.
Step 2: Ask Trusted Sources for Insurance Repair Contractor Recommendations
Call your insurance company and ask them for a list of recommended contractors. Some insurance companies have a direct list of contractors and others use a third-party service to find a preferred contractor in your specific area. It’s also a good idea to ask your friends and neighbors if they’ve used an insurance repair contractor that they’d recommend. Check to see if the contractors that have been recommended are part of the Homebuilders Association and the Better Business Bureau.
Step 3: Read the Paperwork You are Asked to Sign
The contractor may ask you to sign paperwork before, during and after the repairs. READ IT. Many people have the habit of trusting that the paperwork they are signing says exactly what they are told it says. That is not always the case. There can be small print that nullifies the contractors obligations in certain instances or binds you to fees or other obligations that are not expressed in your conversations with the contractor. Make sure you read through any papers you are asked to sign in their entirety and ask questions. If there is anything you don’t understand ask for clarity. If there is anything you don’t agree with, talk about it with your contractor. If you are uncomfortable with anything you are asked to sign DON’T SIGN IT.
Step 4: Never Pay for Services Up Front
Never, ever pay for services in full, up front, before the work is completed. When dealing with insurance repairs, payments are usually handled between the contractor and the insurance company. If you have any out-of-pocket expenses like a deductible, those expenses will most likely be paid directly to your insurance company. If your insurance company is not covering the cost of repairs you may be asked to make a deposit before the contractor begins work. In most cases, this is acceptable. If you do need to pay your contractor out-of-pocket make sure to pay using a personal check so that you have a trackable payment record. Never pay in cash.
Step 5: Keep Accurate and Extensive Records of the Job
Make sure to keep track of everything that happens regarding the repairs to your home. Keep records of all communications with your contractor and your insurance company including dates of visits and phone calls as well as notes regarding the conversations that you had with both. This file should also include the signed contract, plans and specifications of work being done, bills and invoices, canceled checks, copies of the certificates of insurance, information about any subcontractors your contractor may use and material suppliers.
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