ATI Restoration specializes in supporting Commercial Decision Makers and Insurance Professionals with restoration, environmental remediation and reconstruction services. Regardless of our professional title, most of us are homeowners who care about prevention and planning when we go home at the end of the day. This newsletter provides an overview for you, as a homeowner, on how to connect with restoration contractors. In addition, we review potential challenges and recommended solutions surrounding complex losses that have multiple parties engaged and multiple phases of the job.
When a sudden loss or major disaster strikes, homeowners are faced with navigating the insurance restoration process and selecting the best restoration contractor to get their property back to pre-loss condition. Insurance restoration is best defined when an insurance carrier pays for the repairs on a home by construction professionals in the event of fire, natural disaster, water, or mold.
Of the many ways ATI Restoration gets connected with our customers, the three most common are:
Direct Engagement: The process of the insurance carrier paying the property owner directly with a check for the costs of repairs, and the property owner working directly with a restoration contractor of their choosing is known as a cash out. In this case, the residential customer finds us directly from an online search, professional network, and/or personal referral.
Referral from a Third-Party Administrator (TPA): TPAs are fully credentialed and verified companies utilized by insurance carriers to verify contractors in advance of homeowners reporting a loss. The verification process is thorough and can be arduous, as the TPAs work to ensure that the contractors they recommend have all the proper certifications, a good safety track record, and have passed a background check and a risk management assessment. Even when working with the same insurance carrier, going through different TPAs can result in processes that vary for the contractor. In order to service homeowners, ATI Restoration has dedicated insurance program professionals who are well versed on the various requirements of working with TPAs, and we train our teams and local offices on how to best support these accounts.
Direct Insurance Carrier and Adjuster Referrals: The referral networks some insurance carriers use often work similarly to a TPA in how they verify contractors, but it is done directly by that carrier instead of by the TPA. When an insurance carrier utilizes a Referral Network, the insured may be limited to the number of contractors in that network. It is always a good idea to communicate with your insurance carrier directly to fully understand your policy.
Communication Is Key – Potential Challenges and Their Solutions
Numerous players and multi-phased losses create complexities during the claim process. Between the TPA, insurance carrier and potentially multiple contractors at the various stages of the loss, the homeowner is faced with navigating through many channels of communication, which can be very stressful, especially if this is the first time the homeowner has suffered a loss. Based on our history and experiences with these processes, ATI Restoration has identified some key areas of communication breakdowns and how homeowners might avoid them:
Potential Challenge 1 – Sequencing of Work: The restoration process follows a very specific chronology. However, a mitigation contractor and repair contractor might both arrive onsite on the same day. The issue there is that mitigation needs to happen first, followed by repair work. Both contractors may be following the TPA’s service level agreements (SLAs) and want to arrive quickly, but it doesn’t make sense for both of them to arrive at the same time.This results in confusion for the homeowner and wasted time for the contractors. The overall project may lack a clear timeline without the appropriate sequencing of work.
Solution: When speaking with the insurance carrier about the claim, homeowners can ask questions about the restoration process and what to expect while working with the recommended contractor(s). Some suggested questions include:
Does my claim have to be addressed by multiple contractors? Can I deal with one contractor instead?
If multiple contractors are required, which contractor is responsible for each part of the job?
How many job phases are there to this claim?
What is the expected timeline to complete the overall restoration, and for each phase of the job?
How can we avoid multiple contractors calling or arriving onsite at the same time?
Who is my point of contact throughout all stages in the loss?
Potential Challenge 2 – Point of Contact: Carriers often decide how a job is broken out. For example, a job could have one contact for each phase involving 1) emergency services for mitigation 2) contents cleaning/pack out services, and 3) reconstruction, or they could decide to go with a full-service contractor to manage all phases of the job. When the job requires multiple contractors, the property owner could be confused on who their point of contact is throughout the job. For example, if there is a question regarding the repair phase, the property owner may engage the insurance carrier, or the emergency services contractor and the inquiry would need to be redirected.
Solution: When possible, use a contractor that can handle all or at least most of the job phases and they will serve as the single point of contact throughout the duration of the job. ATI Restoration is a full-service restoration company that can manage all phases of any job involved with property damage. Our team of professionals are trained and available to support clients throughout the duration of the project. If it is not possible to utilize just one contractor, make sure to ask your insurance carrier the questions above to allow you the best chance for a successful outcome during this difficult time.
Challenge 3 – The Approval Process: The claims process can be challenging to understand, especially if it is the homeowner’s first time going through the process. For example, there can be miscommunication between the insurance carrier and the homeowner about what will or will not be covered.
Solution: Thankfully, the homeowner has options on who to work with as their contractor and engaging an experienced contractor can help streamline the approval process. For example, ATI Restoration’s expertise in insurance restoration enables us to help homeowners through the claims process. An experienced contractor should not only know how to safely and effectively perform the work, but they should also know how to communicate and work with the insurance carrier or adjuster. The ideal contractor should be able to present pricing that is aligned with the insurance market and present proposals in an insurance-based model. Selecting a contractor that does not have enough insurance restoration experience may cause some challenges, like lost time and inefficiencies due to not understanding the claims process or estimating platforms. To avoid this issue, homeowners could pose the following question to the contractor before working with them:
Do you have experience working in the claims process?
An experienced restorer, like ATI Restoration, will submit the job scope and estimate in a specific format so that it is easy for the insurance adjuster to understand. They can save time by essentially speaking the same language as the insurance carriers and adjusters.
Navigating the claims process and selecting a contractor with the right experience can seem overwhelming, especially when compounded by a recent loss impacting a property. However, there are certain steps that homeowners can take, including asking questions upfront about the restoration process and working with full-service contractors, that can improve the overall experience.