What to Do After a Disaster in My Home

Sudden and accidental property damage can be devastating, both physically and emotionally. Most folks go through life without ever having to deal with such an event. Others will find themselves thrust into this situation without warning. Life is hard enough dealing with day-to-day occurrences that challenge our inner strength and resolve. Usually these happen with varying frequencies; car breakdowns, traffic problems, work deadlines, money problems. Because of the frequency in which they occur, we learn to cope with them.

A disaster, such as a fire or water damage, can introduce an entirely new, and unprepared for, challenge. Since disasters come suddenly and unexpectedly, folks are left with major questions such as; what do I do now, how severe is the damage, what is going to happen to my home and belongings? In most cases, homeowners carry property insurance to ensure the financial support to help put their lives back to the place they were before the loss. Often the first call is to the insurance company to report the claim.

Disaster Services in Herndon, VA

The Insurance Company Perspective

The representative from the insurance company taking the call will ask a series of questions to help determine a course of action; is the property in a livable condition, are the utilities functioning, is work required to stabilize the building and mitigate the damage? The answers provided set in motion a series of events that are likely going to take place in the form of emergency services, temporary housing, and damage investigations.

Because, for many folks, this uncharted territory leaves them feeling unprepared to make their own decisions, disaster victims tend to follow whatever instructions the insurance company gives them. In years past, depending on the severity of the disaster, the insurance company would assign a company representative (claims adjuster) to the loss. This person would come to the property to inspect the damage, review the policy coverage, explain the obligations (of both parties) under the terms of the contract, and, in a way, facilitate the recovery process.

Third Party Vendor Programs

These days, the insurance adjuster acting as a facilitator is pretty much over. Insurance companies are relying more and more heavily on ‘approved vendors’ rather than employees of the insurance company to step in and assess damage and create a work plan to address the damage. What policy holders should know is that to be an approved vendor for an insurance company, the service provider has agreed to a substantial list of claims guidelines (rules) outlining the do’s and don’ts, including limits to charges for services the insurer has placed upon the service provider. These approved vendors are managed by third party companies so that they give the appearance of being properly vetted with quality controls.

Third party claims management criteria are based solely on insurance company objectives and take little consideration of good customer service and quality workmanship. While an effective and cost saving method for insurance companies, policyholders should ask themselves if this is truly in their best interest.

Other Scenarios

In the next scenario, you find that the insurance company does not provide referrals leaving disaster victims to their own devices to find qualified service providers. Having nowhere else to turn, these disaster victims are likely to go on the internet to obtain information, find recommendations and search for qualified service providers. Companies with proven track records such as industry certifications, 5 Star Google reviews, customer testimonials, and other forms of marketing transparency used to provide credentials and affirmations of quality service will be proud to provide them. While searching the internet for information, exercise due diligence as there is a lot of misinformation out there. Call and talk to companies that appeal to your needs and ask a lot of questions.

Fire Restoration Services Herndon, VA

Watch for High Pressure Sales Tactics

In another scenario, if you have experienced a significant disaster which summoned the services of the fire department or some other municipal emergency response agency the event is now a matter of public record. As such, you will likely be solicited by service providers who ‘listen’ to communication from the municipality to the emergency responders. These companies will often be on the scene quickly, often while the fire fighters are literally still fighting the fire. For the most part, this solicitation is often distasteful and fraught with high pressure sales tactics.

On the other hand, companies that can provide emergency services that secure and protect your property by installing anti-intrusion controls (boards over openings, windows and doors, created by either the fire or resulting from fire-fighting practices) provide a viable solution to immediate concerns. Disaster victims are often in a state of shock after the loss and should be wary of high-pressure sales tactics and promises that might not be kept. Finding an emergency response solicitor that is not pushy and is sincerely concerned for your well-being and peace of mind is a huge relief, they’re out there and if you encounter one, you will know it.

Watch For Public Adjuster Solicitation

Lastly, there is a form of solicitation that disaster victims should be highly cautioned about, the public adjuster. A public adjuster will approach fire victims with the intent to represent the homeowner in the claim’s negotiations with his/her insurance company. While on the surface this sounds tempting, however, fire victims should know that these people charge a fee, usually a percentage of the dollar amount of the claim settlement. In other words, the fee comes out of the insurance payment intended for the homeowner. Once a fire victim signs up with a public adjuster, most times they will no longer be able to work, or even speak, with their own insurance company’s adjuster assigned to the claim.

Fire victims should give serious consideration prior to hiring a public adjuster. We recommend giving your property insurance company adjuster a chance to assure you that your claim will be handled fairly and according to the regulations set forth by the local jurisdiction (insurance commission).

With permission from the Restoration Industry Association (RIA) we have reprinted their “After the Disaster” pamphlet that is informative and educational and we think addresses most of what people should be concerning themselves with should they have to confront such an event.

Trusted Restoration Services in Herndon, VA

When you need help after a disaster in your home, the team at RestorTech, Inc. is here! With a trusted team behind you, you can get back on your feet and back to normal! Contact us today at (703) 204-0401 to get the help you need today!