Storm damage contractors

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Old 07-02-14, 01:31 PM
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Storm damage contractors

Hi - I realize this may not be the "correct" forum for this, but I wasn't sure where else to post. I've received excellent honest answers from people in the past here on other DIY forums.

I don't have storm damage, but in the case that I do (Being summer time in Minnesota) I want to be prepared before I have 20 people knocking at my door.
I've been trying to read as much as I can about this, but perhaps someone can show me an example with some $$'s or something to help it make more sense.

I recently read an article talking about the flock of people and how to handle them. There was mention about contractors trying to up the price as much as they can, saying that insurance adjusters won't catch all of the damage, etc. I also am aware of the insurance fraud where the customer is getting a kick back from the contractor because they inflated their invoice to the insurance co. vs. what was provided to the homeowner.

Basically I want to know what I should do to get the most bang for my buck. Obviously with storm damage, contracts most likely flock out because it's almost a guarantee that they will get the job. I get that. It also seems that the contractors try to haggle with the insurance companies to find every little piece of damage to try and raise the cost. I get this. There is a very good possibility the insurance adjuster legitimately missed something or is trying to "low ball" the adjustment. I'm happy to have my contractor find any and all damage.

The part that I'm confused on, is who should I be contacting first? Insurance company or a contractor? Does it matter? Also, in the article, 1 person said that it would help to get 3 quotes, even though it's covered by insurance. Then, a contractor chimed in and said to NEVER get quotes when there is storm damage. Also, the first person said not to let the contractor see the adjusters estimate where the contract said that they must see the adjusters estimate.

Should I let the contractor do all of the paperwork with the insurance company, or does this only open up the possibility for them to "fudge" numbers? Or does it legitimately make the process easier on myself?

In the end, I want what's best for me. I want to know that I am getting all damage covered in a fair manner and that the quality of the work and the product I'm getting is the most bang for my buck. I don't want to have the contractor run away with 50% profit just because they got the adjuster to raise the cost somehow and then didn't use that profit to provide me with a better product, etc. This to me would also mean that they are inflating the actual cost vs. what it would cost if they did the work as a "retail" job and not storm damage. The more of this, the more insurance co's pay out and the higher my premiums go!

Thanks
 

Last edited by dexter0380; 07-02-14 at 02:09 PM.
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  #2  
Old 07-02-14, 01:47 PM
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Insurance...always. Until he gets there, no work is going to start unless you pay out of pocket.

Remember, insurance is only going to replace what's there. You want upgrades at the same time, you'll be paying for that. Another thing, if the contractor screws up on a job or doesn't do the work to common standards and workmanship and you have issues, you don't call him, you call the person with real power, the insurance company.

I've never heard of an issue with the adjuster disallowing any additional problems found...as long as they weren't pre-existing due to years of poor maintenance.

Of course they would want to see the estimate. And if there is an issue, then they can take it up with him. Maybe he made a mistake and there's no way the job could be done for that amount because he didn't include the cost of staging or something.

Unless it's a crooked adjuster in cahoots with a crooked contractor, he's not going to let them run the price up.

References, reference, references.

If you can wait a week or 2 for the highly recommended local company thats been in business for 40 yrs, do you want to go with the out of town guy who figured he can make some quick bucks by driving 150 miles from his town?
 
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Old 07-02-14, 02:22 PM
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Look at the contract as well - I have a neighbor who's in the middle of a dispute because the contractor said the roof needed six squares of shingles beyond what the insurance company thinks it should and the contract the neighbor has with the roofer says the roofer gets to keep any leftover material.
 
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Old 07-02-14, 02:26 PM
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Thanks for the reply. How about the asking for a quote? Does it matter? I'm only asking about this because of this paragraph from the article I was reading. If they're not going to try and run the prices up, why would they be getting more money from an insurance claim than they would if it was a standard quote? It should cost them the same no matter how they are getting paid, but apparently they can make more money on the exact same job if it's covered by insurance rather than doing it as a competitive bid. I would think getting the quotes would help me decide what company is seeing what as far as the damage goes. It's another tool to help me decide which contractor I want to do business with. It also appears that getting the bids would help the contractor stay "honest" about the price that they are wanting from insurance.

A contractor replied back to this statement then saying a homeowner should NEVER ask for a competitive bid for an insurance situation. I guess I'm not understanding why you would be needing to get a bid if you are recommending that the contractor see the insurance estimate. This does not seem to be comparing apples to apples. Hence why I am confused about this part of the process.

Get A Quote

You will get a ton of funny responses if you ask the contractor a certain question. "Can you please give me a quote on what the job will cost?" Most will refuse, because they know the final price tag will be much higher through working the insurance process than they would normally bid if they were in a competitive estimate situation. In the My 3 Quotes process, almost every time I've had the contractors I work with bid on an insurance job that includes asphalt roofing, the bids come in thousands less than what the insurance companies pay out. Normally, the chosen contractor would be working to raise the initial pay-out another 20%; most of them have a specific person in the office who's job it is to work the insurance software program (called Xactimate) for more money. And people wonder why the premiums go up. Insurance companies don't require competitive bids, so every contractor is free to work the system for as much extra money as they can get once they get selected as your contractor.

You can hardly blame the storm chasing contractors for this, as the insurance companies have left doors open for knowledgeable contractors to raise the price to very high profit margins. This is why so many companies ONLY do storm damage. Competing against others on price and quality? Way too much work! This is so much easier. Get the customer to sign the commit form and watch the dollars come rolling in!
 

Last edited by dexter0380; 07-02-14 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 07-02-14, 03:11 PM
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You can get a quote from as many contractors as you can. It may even speed up the process for your adjuster. Just don't commit to anyone without your adjuster's blessing.

As Vic mentioned, when a tornado came through a neighboring lake community, there was quite a bit of damage to homes. Out of town contractors flocked in like ants to a picnic. Someone asked if I was going to get in on the gold mine. I told them, I would stand back and go in after they left town and straighten out he messes.

Be careful.
 
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Old 07-02-14, 03:58 PM
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Chandler - Thanks for the info. I totally understand how careful I need to be in choosing the right contractor. Must be local and reputable, check references, BBB, insurance coverage, licenses, etc. etc.

It sounds like contractors try and get you to sign a commit form allowing them to work directly with the insurance company. Just so I'm clear, is it in my best interest to work with my insurance company? Or at least let the contractor work with them after I have discussed with my adjuster? I see the contractors point of finding more damage than the adjuster may have found, so I'd hate to screw myself out of that.

Thanks again. Sorry for so many questions! I'm very detail oriented and analytical minded and want to understand how things work before I get myself into a mess that I can't get out of.
 
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Old 07-02-14, 04:40 PM
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There are opportunists in most about every line of work, not just contractors. Tree companies after a hurricane comes to mind, and ask friends of Bernie Maddoff how their exclusive buddy did with their investments. I think that you need to build a relationship with a contractor. One that lasts longer than the job at hand. Most of my clients are willing to wait for my availability cause they know in advance that I am usually booked out months and have a waiting list. I think in a time of storm damage, you get the property shored up and safe first, then get on someones list and wait for them to get to you in the rotation.

I take great pride in knowing that 95% of my customers are referrals from my clients. I basically do work for friends of people I already have done work for. They have all seen my work and know what I am capable of before I even set foot in their house. I encourage competitive bids, they don't bother me at all. I want them to interact with others and compare others to my presentations, my sketches, my ideas and my references if requested. I have had clients tell me it doesn't matter what I charge, I am going to get the job. It is a great compliment, but doesn't change the price, I have a conscience and need to sleep well at night, so, no gouging. Instead, I tell them I accept tips at the end of the job.

So, find that person, talk to friends and neighbors. Ask them questions about professionalism, did they clean up after themselves?, were they respectful in the use of language? Do they take pride in their work? Do they provide detailed estimates? Are they more concerned about the satisfying your needs or the only the money and how they are going to get paid? You can usually tell a lot about a person after a couple of face to face meetings.
 
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Old 07-08-14, 10:34 AM
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Czizzi - Thanks for the info. Sounds like you provide a great service, that's awesome. To be honest, I'm a little concerned with the company that my buddy works for. Actually, I found out he's not employed by the company, but he has his own LLC and the company pays him for selling work. This to me seems like a red flag already, but maybe this is normal in the contractor industry. I'm hoping that someone I consider a friend wouldn't be trying to pressure me into going with his company only so he can make money, but it wouldn't be the first time (Great example with Bernie Madoff). Because of this, I want to be as educated as I can and be able to make the best decision for myself when deciding who to go with and be able to back it up with facts if I have to tell him I chose someone else. When I asked him personally who I should contact first, insurance or him, he replies with "Me! Always me!". I'd imagine there is some type of commit form that he would want me to sign too, which my understanding is that I should not do this, or at least not until I choose a final company.

The company he works for is local, but they do have guys that go out and chase storm damage. From what I've read, this may also be a red flag as the "good" companies don't have guys chasing, they have all of their customers coming to them.

What other things should I be looking for when choosing the company? Do I have any say in the product that they use? It sounds like some of the "storm chaser" companies use cheap products and cheap labor to maximize their profits. As I mentioned earlier, I want to get the most bang for my buck so I want to be able to get the best shingles/siding for my dollar w/out having the company skimp out. What is the best way for me to make this happen? It also seems that I need to make sure that the workers are truly insured and that it's not a "2 man" company that has liability insurance but it's not covering the actual workers.

Thanks again!
 

Last edited by dexter0380; 07-08-14 at 10:50 AM.
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