Insurance Damage Repair Bill of Rights
Water Damage, Sewer Mitigation, or Mold Remediation disrupts the regular pattern of life and can involve a lot of emotional stress. People often feel confused and vulnerable after events of this type. However, it is essential to make good decisions, because you will be living with the results long after the stress and confusion have passed. 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. We prepared this BILL OF RIGHTS so you may better understand the policy you have purchased and how it relates to the repairs you may undertake. The standard Homeowners policy generally contains the same provisions throughout the United States and Canada.
Here are some of your rights and obligations under its terms:
- You may take, and be fully compensated for, the cost of emergency steps to safeguard your property from further damage after a loss. In fact, you are obliged to do so under the terms of your policy. The insurance company may not be liable for the additional expense if you fail to provide such protection.
- If you have secured adequate coverage, you are entitled to compensation for the fair cost of fully restoring your home to its pre-damage condition. However, you are not insured for the repair of unrelated problems, code deficiencies, or prior damage.
- You are entitled to employ and should insist upon a fully licensed and insured repair firm of good reputation. However, if you do not choose to hire such a firm, the consequences and liability for any injury, damage, or other action may rest with you.
- You are entitled to employ a firm that stands behind its work and warranty responsibilities with sufficient experience and stability in the community. 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.
- 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 are not required to accept the lowest bidder. Nowhere in your policy do the words "cheapest, low, or lowest price" occur. However, repair rates should correspond to prevailing standards in your area for work of good quality.
- You are entitled to receive a detailed listing of the scope of repairs and quantities of materials to be provided before work begins. 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 substantial disagreement arises between you and the insurance company over the amount of the loss, you are entitled to request arbitration ("appraisal") as described under the terms of the policy. Lines 123-140 of the standard homeowners form spells out these procedures for settling differences without resorting to lawsuits. The restoration company also is entitled to this provision, which may be invoked at any time before settlement, whether or not you have received advanced payments.
- You are entitled to receive payment from the insurance company within the time specified by the policy and your state insurance regulations. These regulations prevent insurance companies from using delay and personal hardship to compel a lower settlement. However, the policy also has time requirements for the policyholder, within which you must prepare and submit your claim. Ask your adjuster or agent about these at the outset, so that you can comply.
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.