Florida Panhandle Flood and Tornado Victims Need to Educate Themselves About Restoration Work
Based on reports, homeowners and businesses in the Florida Panhandle (including Pensacola and Destin and much of the Southeast) are dealing with serious flood and water damage from the recent storms. Once local authorities give the all clear, your property has been inspected and it’s safe to return, mitigation efforts should be started. If insured for the loss, you will find most insurance policies have a requirement that you take reasonable and necessary measures to protect and preserve your property from further damage. This can be a difficult and challenging undertaking that require decisions often involving a great deal of money at a time when your insurance adjuster may not have seen your loss or given the OK to start the dry-out or restoration process. If possible have the restoration company give you the scope of work and pricing in writing and then give it to the adjuster assigned to your loss from the insurance company for their approval. If possible, schedule a meeting at the site with all parties present. While this may not be practical given the scope and size of a storm, it leaves nothing to chance.
Compounding this process will be decisions related to the value of items to be restored, where the items value is less than the restoration cost. In some cases where the loss is severe and the policy limits are low you may need your full policy limits to pay for the total loss value of items. Emergency restoration cost can be very expenses. Drying out a building can be problematic as often times building components that are not damaged will have to be removed to facilitate the dry-out process. Damaged property such as business stock or personal property may need to be removed and stored. It’s always a good idea to photograph personal property/inventory before it’s removed or placed in storage. This protects you for the inevitable inspections that will follow from the insurance adjuster and possibly inventory and salvage firms.
As with any business, there are many honest and reliable restoration firms but there are also fast buck operators who want to run up a restoration bill as high as they can. Drying out costs are very profitable for these firms and storage and handling inventories often carry significant mark-ups. You will be approached by restoration firms to sign work authorization forms. In the case of a building service contract your signature may in fact give a firm lien rights if their bill is not paid in total. It is not uncommon to have insurance companies contest the excessive and unreasonable charges from dishonest firms. When they do, we have seen many cases where they will pay part of the bill but not the total. Then they will remind you that you signed the work authorization without approval from them. You also may have issues with restoration cost for work that is not covered. For example: if you do not have a flood policy, your insurance company may only pay for restoration costs related to wind damage.
Remember, emergency restoration work authorizations are contracts. If possible have them reviewed by your attorney. Another possibility is to have the insurance adjuster give the OK for the scope and price of the work to be performed. Always get this in writing! We have seen some policyholders successfully change the work authorization forms to state that any payment for services must be approved by the insurance company. Also be very leery of work authorizations that assign your insurance policy proceeds to restoration firms. Use common sense. It’s your insurance money. Once it’s paid out you cannot go back for more.
If you have questions regarding any property insurance claim related issues please call 800.321.4488 or contact us to submit a question to one of our public adjuster or insurance claim experts. #PensacolaFlooding #DestinFlooding #FtWaltonFlooding #GulfBreezeFlooding #TampaFlooding