Hurricane Season – June 1 to November 1

In the face of  hurricane season, you need to take precautions to keep you and your family safe . You buy your non-perishable food, water, propane and other supplies. You board up your windows and fill your sandbags. Or you pack up your car and leave the area.

After the storm, you assess the damage. Many may have no damage at all. Some may lose everything. A lot will be in between with minor to major damage.

Here is another area where you need to be prepared. And be patient…..

Choosing a restoration company

There are companies right now gearing up to invade the area after a storm.  Restoration companies, tree service companies, general contractors, roofers…they are all waiting for the storm to be over so they can come in and start fixing the damage…and some of them will be ripping people blind. Some homeowners will have their insurance money stolen and their homes left in disrepair. Many will have work done that is unnecessary because they trusted the contractor that came to their home. And others will have sub par work done and pay outrageous prices for it. Some will have work done, and a sub contractor will lien their home because he didn’t get paid by the contractor they hired.

Protect yourself

There are ways that you can protect yourself, and your biggest investment.

Water damage restoration contractors should  be certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification for water damage restoration IICRC
These certifications should include Water Damage and Applied Structural Drying at a minimum.  These certifications are a guarantee that these companies are going to take care of your water damage properly, according to stringent industry standards.

Most certified water damage restoration companies have other contractors that they use on jobs regularly that they can recommend to you. Don’t be fooled by a “big box” name, most of them are franchises and the people coming to your home may NOT be properly trained or certified.

Don’t fall for it

Do NOT hire a contractor or restoration company who knocks on your door or cold calls you offering to give you a “free” estimate. Legitimate water damage restoration professionals  who do a good job and are honest  don’t knock on doors or cold call. And legitimate contractors are going to be really busy after a hurricane, so you may need to wait awhile to get your home repaired.

After a large storm, the rip off artists come out of the woodwork and they will try to take advantage of you in every way possible. Don’t fall for it!

Check their credentials

Ask for their license number, and ONLY hire companies that are licensed to do business in Florida. There are many companies who travel here from out of state after a hurricane. You have little or no recourse against them if you hire them. You can check their licensing at Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation General Contractors, roofers and tree companies have separate licensing requirements. For mold, the State of Florida requires a State license for anyone to test, assess or remediate mold of 10 sf or more. Mold licensing in florida

Know how it works

Professional restoration contractors will work with you and your insurance company. Many use the same estimating programs as the insurance company, Xactware or Symbility, so there will be very little discrepancy. Collection of your insurance deductible by a restoration contractor is up front.  Your deductible is the amount you and your insurance comapny agreed you would pay out of pocket, just like your co-pay at the doctors office.

Be wary of companies that offer to “waive” your deductible – this practice is illegal! And do you really think they are going to eat $2500 to $5000 on the bill? This is an indicator that they are going to try to “fudge” the bill to make more money from your claim.  Or they are going to take the money and run. This leaves you with a damaged home and no funds to repair it.

Do NOT pay any contractor the full amount up front. For large jobs requiring major repairs, the restoration contractor may ask for “draws”. These are typically 1/3 at the start for materials, 1/3 when work is half way complete,  and 1/3 upon final completion. The contract for services that you sign should outline payment requirements.  For large losses, your adjuster may be able to facilite the payments in 3 draws. Most contractors will not purcchase materials on your behalf without a draw of some kind.

Make sure you get the names, contact information and license information for any company that does work on your home.  Tell the contractor that you require a list of all sub-contractors working on your home. Require EACH company and sub-contractor to file and submit a notarized Release of Lien prior to final payment.  Only then make a final payment to your contractor.

Your Insurance Company

Your insurance company is going to be inundated.  Adjusters are going to be busy.  You will need to have patience.  Your restoration professional should take steps to preserve and protect your home, such as extracting water and removing any items that are not salvageable.  This is required by your insurance company and it outlined in your policy.  After that, you may have to wait quite awhile before repairs can start, unless you can pay them out of pocket.  Have patience.

As for your insurance recommending certain restoration companies, for the most part they cannot tell you who to use, unless they have “right to repair” language in your policy.  If they have that language, you have given up your right to choose.  This means they get to choose the restoration company, and that company will be working with the insurance companies best interest in mind, not yours. You do still have the option of firing the company they send out if you can show cause that you are not happy with their work.  And remember that when you go to renew.  Look for a company that doesn’t use “right to repair” language.

If you need help, feel free to give us a call. We can guide you through the process and help you find the right people. Our staff can answer any questions, even if you don’t hire us. 813-621-6015

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