Tips for Hiring a Contractor for Your Property Damage Claim
After any type of disaster or other incident that results in property damage, one of the most important decisions to make is hiring a contractor to handle your repairs. While this may sound relatively straightforward, finding the right contractor to handle your property damage claim may be challenging. Consider the following tips for finding the right contractor to handle your property damage restoration project.
Check the Contractor’s Service Record
The first step in your search for a contractor should be searching through reviews and asking friends and family for recommendations. Once you identify a few potential contractors for your project, look for reviews from past clients to learn more about how the contractor works and the quality of their finished products. Most contractors’ websites will showcase their best past projects and feature glowing reviews from happy customers, but it’s important to look at third party review sites, too.
Google, Yelp, and other review sites will collect scores customers give businesses to display an overall rating, and you may notice trends among reviewers. For example, if several low score reviews all mention billing issues, it’s likely that the contractor isn’t transparent or honest with billing or project quotes. If many high score reviews mention the contractor’s honesty and quality of work, then you may have a positive experience working with the contractor.
Verifying a Contractor’s Qualifications
If you need a contractor for a property damage claim, then you want to hire one who specializes in restorative projects. Handling a brand-new building project is very different from a restoration project on an existing structure. Many general contractors offer building and repair services but may not specialize in one type of work. Additionally, complex restoration projects may require specialized equipment or specific skills that a general contractor’s team may not possess.
In addition to the qualifications necessary for handling your restoration project, you should also check to ensure a contractor has the required licenses and certifications to perform the work you need. Employees of restoration contracting companies should have completed certification from the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification and have the required licenses for handling asbestos, mold, lead-based paint, and other hazards that may be present.
Working With Insurers
Your property damage claim will undergo an insurance claim investigation from your insurer, and the insurer may have a list of “preferred service providers” the insurance company recommends hiring for restoration projects. You don’t need to choose one of these contractors, but if you select one outside of the insurer’s list of preferred service providers, the insurance company will need to approve your selection before work can begin.
Your insurance company may also have clear guidelines for the types of work you can have done for your restoration project. For example, if you are repairing a damaged kitchen, your claim may only approve certain types of flooring materials or cabinetry. If you want to upgrade to any other materials or seek additional services, the insurance company will need to approve these changes.
Get a Written Agreement
Once you find a contractor for your property damage claim, make sure you get a promise of service in writing from him or her. The written agreement should include the contractor’s insurance coverage verification, a full outline of the work the contractor intends to perform, and a quality guarantee for that work. You should also remember that contractors do not have the qualifications to perform insurance claim adjustments, so be wary of any sudden changes once work begins.
If you recently filed a property damage claim, it’s likely that you worked with an attorney for some or all the filing process. Your attorney can be a great resource for confirming that a contractor’s work falls within the scope of your coverage and can warn you of any potentially complicating factors. A good attorney can also handle all your communications with insurance companies, which will greatly reduce the chances of pushback against a legitimate claim.