Your home is hit by a sizable hail storm. Two hours later there are already contractors driving up and down your street. Some are even pounding on doors. Then the phone starts to ring. Ah, welcome to storm season in Chicago.
An insurance claim can be confusing and frustrating, especially when you don’t deal with them everyday like a restoration professional does. When choosing what insurance restoration company you want to represent you to your insurance company and ultimate make the repairs to your home, you need to be sure they can answer basic questions about the process and how hiccups will be handled if they happen to occur.
Question that Your Insurance Restoration Company Must Answer Before You Start Working with Them
When talking to companies be sure to ask the following questions. And if the person you are talking to does not adequately answer them, or if they hesitate at all, move on. You need a pro and they are not it.
1.What happens if my claim is denied? What will you do next to get it approved?
Some claims are accepted with little or no question. Others, depending on the particular situation, the certain insurance company the claim is with, or the assigned insurance adjuster’s opinion, can be more difficult. An inexperienced representative or company, many times will simply accept defeat and walk away with a denial on the first adjustment. Big mistake!
If there is legitimate damage it is always worth fighting for. A pro will know what to do next, and what to do after that and after that until all options are exhausted.
2.What if my insurance company only approves part of my roof or siding, like one side? What do we do then?
Many insurance companies will try to cut your claim short. Many times they will only cover the actual part of your roof, siding, or gutters that has direct physical damage. But what happens if the siding you have has faded with time. Or what if it isn’t made anymore. Or what if the shingle color on your house has been discontinued? Replacing just one part of your home will look ridiculous.
Your restoration professional has to know how to get around these situations. Illinois law does not require an insurance company to match the existing material on your home. This is where having an experienced expert in your corner can save you thousands of dollars and give you the best chance to get your whole house restored instead of just sections or repairs.
3. What if my insurance company misses important items on their estimate?
Your insurance company has an obligation to make you whole after a damaging weather event like a hail storm. Code upgrades, roofing and siding components that are necessary to qualify for a manufacturer’s warranty, and small items that may have been missed during the insurance adjustment inspection are all items that need to be covered in order to successfully bring your home back to pre-storm condition.
But how do we do that? A pro knows how to do this and will make sure your home is restored up to code, full warrantied, and looking better than new.
4. What professional licenses do you have and what are the advantages of these licenses to me?
Believe it or not there are some insurance restoration companies that hold no state licenses. They use other another company’s or their subcontractor’s licenses. Having a state license tells you that the company you are dealing with at least has a base knowledge for what they are doing. It also tells you they are a legitimate company that is registered with the state.
In the insurance restoration business there are three important licenses, Roofing, General contractor, and public adjuster. Ask your contractor what licenses they have. Then ask to see them. Then just to be sure look their license number up with the state. In Illinois you can verify a professional license on their website. Click the following link: Illinois Department of Financial & Professional regulation.
5. How many insurance claims have you been involved with? How many last year?
Newer companies are very risky to do business with. They are generally under capitalized, are ran by inexperienced owners, and are not good at managing the everyday cash flow needs of an insurance restoration company. Plus when dealing with your particular claim, the more experience a company has the better chance you have for a smooth and successful claim and restoration project.
If a company has no track record, it is best to pass on their services. A top quality restoration firm will execute hundreds and even thousands of claims per year.
6. Once my claim is approved, do you do the work? And more importantly, what proof do you have that your contracting business does good work?
In almost every case, the contractor that knocks on your door or calls your phone will expect to do the work if they get your insurance company to pay for it. The problem is, most of them you don’t want to do the work!
Storm chasers are notorious for bad work, poor quality, and non-existent warranties. They work an area then move on, never to be seen again. Even companies that are “pseudo-local” but are only known for doing insurance work tend to do shoddy work.
The best case scenario for a quality roof or siding installation is to work with a real local company that has a brick and mortar location. This local company should not only do insurance work but also sell their products retail. When customers pay out of pocket for their work, they are much more critical, which means the contractor doing the work needs to be very good at what they do. The final key ingredient is good local customer references and good online reviews. Research your hail damage contractor just like you would any company you would have do work to your home.
7. Can I have professional references and supplier references?
Professional and supplier references? Shouldn’t I be asking for past customers to talk to? Past customers are an excellent source of the past performance of the company you are researching. But the really important thing for the security of your project is the current financial situation of the company. Suppliers are the best reference source to find out this information. If a company is behind on their bills with their suppliers, you know their current financial situation is not the best. This is a huge red flag and a huge risk to you, especially as you consider giving this company deposit money.
A quality, legit company will have no problem giving you 3-4 supplier references, a bank reference, an attorney reference, and an accountant reference. Professional, established businesses have these and have no problem sharing the information.
Obviously there are many more questions you will ask your insurance restoration contractor, but make sure you ask and truly listen to the answers to the above questions. Look for hesitation, confusion, and poor answers.
Having a poor, inexperienced, low quality firm represent you will have you regretting you ever got involved in the process. Hiring a pro will make your life easier, your claim more likely to get approved, and your home ultimately looking great. All paid by insurance!