They are calling the Blizzard of 2018, causing widespread damage in Massachusetts, a bomb cyclone. We are about to see an explosion of thousands of homeowners filing insurance claims for water damage, tree/branch/wind damage and flooding. Contractors, get ready for frantic calls from property owners to help them restore their property and provide an estimate for repairs for the insurance company. If you need help with this we have the Insurance Claim Workshop for remodelers and contractors on January 24th, 2018. We teach contractors the ins and outs of estimating and dealing with insurance repair work.
Insurance Claims Pouring In
Mass homeowners are already reeling from 8 days of record cold weather causing hundreds of frozen pipe bursts, water damage to properties and failed heating systems. An insurance adjuster yesterday said his company already has 400 calls for frozen pipe burst damage. He also said good luck to anyone needing a quick visit from a plumber...they are all swamped.
More damage to come; pipe bursts, water damage and trees on houses
Many homeowners don't know it yet, but their pipes are frozen from the past week and will thaw next week when we warm up. In addition the forecast for the next three days is for frigid temperatures to cover Massachusetts causing more pipes to freeze.
The damage from pipe bursts can be extensive ruining finished basements, buckling hardwood floors, warping cabinet bases and doors, destroying ceiling, walls, insulation and electrical systems.
Once the leak is stopped the homeowner usually calls the insurance company who then recommends a hand picked mitigation contractor to come and tear out severely damaged walls, ceiling and insulation to prevent mold. I recommend that the homeowner also call there preferred contractor (you) to make sure that the tear out is properly justified. Tip; many people don't know that one way a mitigation contractor gets paid more money is by ripping out more items.
Some tips to know on the insurance claim process
Once the claim is called in the insurance company will assign a claim adjuster. If the damage is small they may suggest the homeowner take some pictures, get a contractor to price it up and send it in. On small claims this can work fine.
However on larger claims, I recommend that the homeowner insist that they send out an adjuster. Then they should have a professional contractor (you) assess the damages and pricing to make sure nothing is left out. Remember insurance companies are in the business of making money by keeping claims as low as possible.
Due to the large volume of claims we are about to see homeowners will need to be patient. Local adjusters will get busy very quickly. In the winter of 2015, insurance companies brought in hundreds of Catastrophe Adjusters from all over the country due to the volume of claims. This is likely to be repeated. It took months to get claims settled.
Helping homeowners as a paid contractor consultant
This is where you the contractor, can help your homeowner client by assessing the damage and producing a comprehensive accurate estimate for repairs. As a paid contractor consultant you can assess damage, assess code triggered work and then give the homeowner a proper repair estimate to compare with the insurance company estimate. If you would like to learn how to get paid for contractor consulting come to the Insurance Claim Workshop.
Don't accept the first offer from the insurance company
Once they send out the insurance company adjuster the visit will produce an estimate and settlement offer either on site or in a few weeks. In most cases the first offer will be very low on scope of work and price. The homeowner should NEVER ACCEPT THE FIRST OFFER FROM THE INSURANCE COMPANY. All insurance company offers should be vetted by a professional contractor before acceptance.
In a recent report over 80% of homeowners accept the first offer from the insurance company. Knowing this insurance companies almost always make a low initial offer.
In the winter of 2015, I assisted our Workshop students with estimating ice dam claims. For more than 90% of the claims the initial insurance offer was tripled after we produced a comprehensive estimate. One ice dam claim went from an initial offer of $45,000 to $145,000 and another form $27,000.00 to $75,000.00. The contractor consultants who did these estimates became heroes to the homeowners they protected from being screwed by low insurance offers.