Insurance Damage Repair Bill of Rights
Any type of property damage will cause stress. We find, however, that when property owners know what to expect during the insurance claims process – and what their rights are – the level of anxiety greatly decreases, and everyone is able to make better decisions. As Professional Restoration Contractors, we believe the public interest is best served if people have an understanding of their rights and the alternatives available to them when insurance damage and repair work are involved.
Your insurance policy is a CONTRACT between you and the insurance company. It entitles you to certain rights and imposes certain obligations. While each policy is different in terms of coverage, unless there is a specific exclusion relating to the terms, this Bill of Rights for Property Owners describes your basic entitlements.
Here are some of your rights and obligations under its terms:
- You make take, and be fully compensated for, the cost of emergency steps to safeguard your property from further damage after a loss, even before your insurance claim is approved. Certain services like emergency board-up, roof tarping, and water extraction needs to be started immediately, and you can hire a professional for those services without prior approval of the insurance company.
- You are entitled to compensation for the fair cost of fully restoring your home to its pre-damage condition. However, the project scope estimate may include additional repairs for unrelated problems, code deficiencies, or prior damage, but those may not be covered by your insurance policy. Your contractor should specify which, if any, of the repairs will require out-of-pocket payments.
- You are entitled to employ and should insist upon a fully licensed and insured restoration company of good reputation.
- You are not obligated to use the insurance company's preferred vendor. The repair contract and its performance is strictly between you and the contractor. As long as the company you choose holds the required licenses, your insurance company is obligated to participate in the project scope estimate process and provide the subsequent claim payout.
- You are entitled to materials and workmanship fully equivalent to your existing installation in like-kind and quality. The insurance company has no obligation to improve your existing installation. You may choose to upgrade your home as part of the restoration process, but any costs over and above "like-kind" will need to be paid out of pocket.
- You are not required to accept the lowest bidder, however, repair rates should correspond to prevailing standards in your area for work of good quality. The best bid, then, will probably not be the lowest; a reputable restoration company will be able to prove that their estimate is in line with local standards.
- You are entitled to receive a detailed listing of the scope of repairs and quantities of materials to be provided before work begins. We use the same estimating program as most insurance companies (Xactimate) so our work estimates are always transparent and clear. Also, provisions for hidden or latent problems relating to the damage should be spelled out in as much detail as possible.
- You are entitled to and should reject any contract that does not address all federal, state, and local requirements for residential construction work. However, you must be familiar with these requirements to enjoy the protection the law provides. Ask an Industry Certified Restoration Contractor for this critical information.
- You are entitled to select a firm that can demonstrate skill and experience in insurance damage repair as a full-time professional service. Ask for references, credentials, and association memberships that indicate professional training and status in insurance repair, as contrasted with ordinary home improvement work.
- If a disagreement arises between you, the insurance company, or your restoration contractor (or any combination thereof), you are entitled to request arbitration for settling differences.
- You are entitled to receive payment from the insurance company within the specified time stated by your policy and your state's insurance regulations. These regulations prevent insurance companies from using delay to compel a lower settlement. The policy also requires, however, the homeowner to submit the claim within a certain time period. Your restoration contractor will assist you in preparing your claim paperwork.
Since you are the policyholder, only you can demand your insurance company lives up to its obligations under the policy. As Professional Restoration Contractors, we recommend that you do so. We have a strong conviction that fair dealing, good workmanship, and ethical business practices benefit the insurance industry just as they benefit the public at large.
Note: This "Bill of Rights" has been distributed to Certified Cleaning and Restoration Professionals for educational purposes only. The use of the information contained herein should be done at the best professional judgment of the Restoration Contractor. This "Bill of Rights" has no intended objective other than to inform any interested parties as to their rights or obligations when involved in an insurance repair claim.