We might think that just because we’re in beautiful Southern California, where usually not much happens in the way of disasters, we’re safe from people who prey on the misfortunes of others. Sadly, you’ll be wrong. Although we don’t have hurricanes, flooding rivers, tornadoes or blizzards, we have wildfires, mudslides and earthquakes, and criminals that are ready to make money off the back of someone losing their home or business.
Whenever a disaster happens, whether its as devastating as losing your entire company to a fire or less dire like a leak in your home’s roof, it is a troubling time for a homeowner or business owner. There are so many details to worry about, on top of the event itself—and this is exactly the time when unscrupulous fly-by-night contractors and other scam artists will move in to capitalize on their misfortune.
Don’t think they’re out there? Unlicensed contracting is part of California’s estimated annual $60 to $140 billion dollar underground economy. It’s not to say that every unlicensed contractor is a rip-off merchant, but just by being unlicensed they can put you, your family, your home and your savings in a lot of danger.
So if a disaster happens to you, we hope that you call us. We’re not just water and fire restoration experts, we’re also licensed, bonded and insured contractors, and that’s what puts us above our competition. We also know how to get the best from your insurance company, and follow all of the correct procedures. But if you don’t have our number to hand when disaster strikes, take this advice from the California Department of Insurance (CDI):
- It’s imperative that you contact your insurance company immediately to report your loss. Follow the instructions given to you by claims personnel and don’t be scared to ask questions if you do not understand what they’re asking you to do. There may be a lot of people needing help at the same time is a major event has happened, and any prior preparation for a loss will help you now. From the first moment of your first call, keep copies of your documents and a log of the names of the people you speak with along with dates, times, and a summary of the pertinent points of each conversation.
- Insurance policies may not cover ensuing damage to your property if you have not taken reasonable steps to protect against subsequent property damage. This is why calling a restoration company can be the best thing you can do—we can secure your home or business to the insurance company’s specifications.
- Use a camera or even your phone to take pictures or video documenting damages. This could be crucial to your refund.
- We know that you’ll want everything to get back to normal as soon as possible, but don’t rush into repairs or rebuilding without first considering every option. Check out all bidding contractors through the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) in your area. To check a contractor’s license or get further information on home and property repairs, call the CSLB toll free at 800-321-2752 or visit www.cslb.ca.gov.
- Don’t hire a public adjuster or an attorney before you’ve tried everything to settle your claim directly with your insurance company. Your insurer provides an adjuster at no charge to you, and your insurance agent or company representative should be willing to help you with your claim. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you work directly with your insurer, you still have the right to hire a third-party professional (public adjuster or lawyer) to help you if you aren’t happy with the process.
- Public adjusters need to be licensed too, not just the contractors. If you hire one to help you with a claim, call the California Department of Insurance (CDI) for licensing verification and for other information about public adjusters. Check out a prospective attorney with the State, County or other local bar association for information. Public adjusters and lawyers will usually require a percentage of the claim settlement for their services. It is important that you understand what services are being provided and the fees that will be charged by both adjusters and lawyers. Ask your friends, relatives, or business associates for referrals of well-regarded professionals in your community, or those they’ve used with success.
- Do not call anyone to repair or replace your loss without first getting instructions from your adjuster, since your insurer’s visual inspection of your loss may be necessary before repairs begin. Do not throw away damaged property until your adjuster advises you that you no longer need it.
We hope you never need to use this information, but if you do, we again highly recommend that you call a professional restoration company to help you with the cleanup and with your insurance company. Have any questions? Please give us a call. We have skilled and professional technicians waiting to help you: (877) 732-8471