Getting the most from your insurance coverage
“The thing that I have learned (for anyone else in this situation), is do NOT try to battle insurance alone! Unless you are an insurance adjuster and you know the insurance business in and out, you will lose yourself tens of thousands of dollars.” – Robyn M., east of Phoenix AZ
One of the most common surprises that our past restoration clients in Arizona have shared with us is in regard to challenges with their insurance coverage. After you read the story below, then you will understand why our clients so strongly recommend that you get our assistance (to be your ally in filing your restoration claim with your insurance company). The better that you understand the story below, then the more motivated you will be to make sure that you are getting all the help you need.
First, most home owners around Phoenix have never filed any insurance claims for a restoration service or water damage repair. So, they simply would not know how confusing and frustrating it can be.
Next, even when the process of reporting the incident and filing the initial claim goes smoothly, things may not automatically work out to serve the best interests of the home owner! Many people have expressed their tremendous gratitude for the assistance of our restoration experts for effectively communicating with insurance adjusters and helping those home owners to get the most out of their insurance policy.
In fact, you can even request that we share with you some audios of home owners around Phoenix talking about how stressful it was for them to eventually get everything that the insurance company legally owed to them. You can read some short excerpts from those interviews here: testimonials about help with insurance company frustrations.
Our latest example here (from November of 2016) is from a restoration job in Mesa that is still being completed. We are planning to record an audio interview soon with that homeowner (an elderly lady).
For now, here is some of the background of why she was so stressed about the behavior of one particular employee of her insurance company. The below commentary is in the words of Dane Chaffee, the water damage restoration supervisor who managed these repairs.
First, here is how the story ended. When it was over, she came to me crying and said this:
“If you weren’t here… you know, I can’t believe what would have happened. They were trying to screw me! I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you….”
[As background,] we got called out on a job last week. I went out to the house late Sunday night to inspect it. It was a clean water loss [as in a leak of regular tap water, not a leak of contaminated water like from sewage or from water with harsh industrial chemicals].
The toilet tube broke, but it ran all day, so… [the spread of the soaked-in moisture] was about eight inches up the wall when I got there. [The depth of the standing water was] two inches of water throughout the whole house and then it had run in to each condo on each side.
Normally, with a [leaking] supply water tube that you catch within the first 12 hours, you try to dry everything in place [but, as of Sunday night, the flood of water had already been going strong for too long, so the priority that night was to make sure that the leaking was stopped, inspect the obvious damage, then start the planning of a thorough water damage protocol].
So, Monday morning I got out there and told them “file a claim. We’re going to have to demo [rip up] this whole place. Everything is going to have to be cut. Because it’s a condo, there’s insulation in all the walls (which is holding water)…. I need to call [the insurance company] and tell them.”
So I called them. They said that “yeah, go ahead. Get going. Start on it.”
So, we started…. We spent two days demoing [removing drywall that had been soaked].
Well, on Wednesday, we’re [in the middle of] working there. The place is a wreck.
The adjuster shows up. I didn’t know he was coming….
He pops his head in and he says “what in the heck is going on here?” and I’d already talked to the insurance company…. I’d made them aware of all the damage. So I kind of played it off like he was joking. So I said “oh yeah crazy, crazy going on here” and it became very apparent very quickly that he was not… it was not a joke to him:
He said, “No, no, I’m serious. What the heck is going on here? What are you doing? You’re just tearing things apart! You’ve got to stop. What’s your name? I’m turning you in.”
He’s asking my employees for their names. He’s going off. Meantime, the home owner is standing right next to him.
So he’s like “this is excessive. What are you guys doing? This is ridiculous! You can’t do this. What are you doing? You’re tearing everything apart!”
Finally, when I realized he wasn’t joking, I stepped up and said “Listen, listen. You need to stop. If you’ve got a problem with anything I’m doing, let’s talk about it…. But if you want to sit here and accuse me of doing things that I shouldn’t be doing, then we need to shut the doors and wait for the lawyers to get here…. because this is not okay.”
Then he says “I’m calling my supervisor!” So we walked outside. He started calling his supervisor. Well, I know who his supervisor is, because we deal with State Farm on this all the time.
So I walked out, following him. He’s talking to his supervisor: “You know, they’ve just torn everything apart. And I don’t know… they just have a history of doing this. You know, I’ve worked with them on a job before and they’re just tearing everything apart!”
(I’d never seen this guy). So I said “are you talking to… Doug? Do I need to give Doug a call? Tell Doug that Dane is very upset with how you’re handling this.”
All of a sudden, everything changes. He gets off the phone. Then he comes inside.
I said, “let’s start over on this.” I said, “First of all, I heard you outside saying that you’ve dealt with me on a job before. I’ve never seen you on a job before.”
He’s like: “well, I’ve dealt with Copper State before, and….”
I said, “Hold up. What did you say?”
He said, “I’ve dealt with Copper State before and you guys have a history of this.”
I said, “I’m not Copper State. I’m Canyon State.”
And he goes: “oh… okay. But still, this is excessive.”
I said, “Look in your folder. I called you guys Monday morning and I told you exactly what I was doing. And you guys said to go ahead.”
“So,” I said, “there’s no reason you should be showing up here surprised at what you’re seeing.”
So he starts flipping [through his paperwork] and he says, “oh yeah, yeah. I see.”
I said, “now, the next thing… you haven’t once come to me and said ‘WHY did I cut this wall?’ You haven’t once come to me and said ‘WHY did I pull out this cabinet?’ So let’s start there….”
“This is a condo. I cut every wall because here’s the pictures and it shows the water… 18 inches up the wall [that has wet] insulation inside. You can’t dry that [completely without cutting in to the wall].”
He goes, “oh, well that’s pretty good evidence right there.”
I said, “now let’s look at the cabinets. Look at how high water stain is on the cabinet. Did you see the water stain on the pressboard?”
“Do you the mold starting to grow on the pressboard? You can’t leave those in there!”
He’s like “well that’s pretty good evidence, too.”
I said, “now, where we pulled the cabinets out….” I pulled out my thermal imaging camera and showed him where [the moisture is] two feet up the wall….
I said, “how do you want me to dry that [moisture that is trapped]?”
He says, “Okay, now I get it. Yeah, it looks like everything’s legit here.”
I said, “it IS legit here! Everything we do has a regulation and [there is] a reason behind everything.”
[Dane is referencing the standards of practice set by ANSI and IICRC. That is the American National Standards Institute and the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification.]
“But you didn’t come in and ask [questions]. You came in assuming that I was somebody else, yelling and crazy. We now have a home owner who’s in the garage crying. This is the most unprofessional thing I’ve seen and I will be turning you in for this.”
He’s like, “Well, let’s back… let’s stop… let’s….”
I said, “No no no. You came in at me. Next time you have a problem, why don’t you come and ASK me… or ask whoever you’re dealing with ‘why did you do this?’ and let them give the explanation.”
I said, “Are you trained in water [damage procedures]?”
He said, “well, I’m trained in adjustment.”
I said, “but that’s not what I asked! Are you trained in water?”
[Dane was referencing the IICRC’s Water Damage Restoration training.]
He says, “no.”
I said, “then how can you tell me what to do? Everything done here is [according to regulation]. I had to do it and I’ll show you the pictures and the regulations that tell me why I have to do that. Now if you want to just come in and ask questions, instead of getting hot, then we wouldn’t be having this issue.”
I said, “You will be getting a write up. I’ve already talked to the homeowner. She’s disappointed in State Farm. She’s afraid you guys are trying to screw her. Now, she’ll be writing me a letter of recommendation to go with my invoice… because you’ve really screwed this up!”
I said, “…all because you wanted to be come in and try to make me (who you thought was somebody else) look like an ass…. I hope that changes in the future.”
He said, “well, man I hope you accept my apology.”
[There was] a total change [in his attitude].
“You guys are good. Go ahead and do whatever you need to do. You’re good.”
[So, as for that adjuster at State Farm:]