It’s Just Not as Simple as People Think It Is - Part 2
We left Part 1 after the Restoration Contractor, sent by the Third Party Administrator, has extracted and left a couple of Dehumidifiers to “stabilize” your home. We said that the way you see the relationship is
when in reality the hierarchy of the relationship is
What you are about to learn is that this hierarchy may cause your experience to become horrible.
The restorer left you with the impression that things are being handled. You see, like you, they are in a bad spot. Either you, or their franchise headquarters, has agreements in place with the Insurer or the TPA (or both) that limits what they can do, and what they can say to you. They are often told very directly by their corporate headquarters not to do anything to jeopardize the relationship with the Insurer or TPA.
The restorer leaves the premises, and you go several days without hearing anything. The TPA is determining if your policy has the proper coverages to ensure your claim meets those criteria. Meanwhile, your home is sitting in what the industry calls, as we said in Part 1, Category 3 water. Category 3 water, according to the ANSI/IICRC S500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration (the recognized Standard by restorers, insurers, and attorneys) requires the removal of any porous material with which Category 3 water makes contact, except for exceptional circumstances (expensive tapestries, rugs, etc.). However, you don’t know this, and you’ve been in and out of your home to check on things while waiting for that “determination” to be made. You have no idea that workers will be coming into your home wearing protective clothing and respirators. Innocently, you are unaware of to what you may be exposed.
Finally, the restorer comes back to you and states that after discussions with the insurer and TPA (discussions which you were not privy to) it has been determined that the Category of Water for your home has been downgraded to a Category 2 from a 3. What you don’t know is that this changes everything. The cost of the job just went down significantly. Remember Category 3 water means that everything porous needs to be removed. This would mean affected carpet, pad, affected sheetrock, affected insulation. One could argue that other components such as affected baseboard, chair rail, crown molding, cabinetry, bookcases, hardwood flooring be removed as well. The other factor that affects these items is the amount of time they may have sat while awaiting a decision. Now that it’s being downgraded from a Cat 3 to a Cat 2, you are in a pinch. Things that should be removed, disposed of, and replaced are now be saved.
You begin to question this decision but are told that all is well. After all, the home was stabilized. Stabilization is like spitting into the wind. Your home, after being exposed to a Category 3 situation, should have been extracted, then all porous materials removed followed by treatment of exposed subfloors and structural framing treated with an EPA registered anti-microbial. Once the anti-microbial application is dry (normally 1 to 2 hours), the drying process should have begun with instructions to not enter the home until the restorer deemed it okay for you to do.
That folks, is proper restoration procedures to protect you, the owner, safe.
That means there are some questions you need to ask when faced with a restoration process.
To the restorer: Who is your contract with, you or the insurer or a TPA, or both? What Category of Water Damage is your home? What is your Drying Plan?
If the goal is stabilization, send’em packing and hire someone who will do the job right. Keep in mind, though, that anything the insurer or TPA refuses to pay, may fall back on you. Chances are, you’ll end up in pushing match with your insurer over the job if they are refusing certain services.
To the TPA: Who exactly do you represent? The insurer or you? If the insurer, advise your insurer that you do not want the TPA involved, both in writing and orally, so when the issue arises later.
To the Insurer: How involved will you let my agent be? Who makes the drying decisions? The insurer or the Restorer? The restorer should be making these decisions.
And finally remember, some insurers, TPAs, and even some adjusters will tell you that if you don’t use the vendor they send, they may not guarantee payment of the claim. That’s hogwash. It is your home, and you can hire who you wish. You do have responsibilities, though. You can’t delay the process, you can’t get in the way of the process, you can’t be turning off dehumidifiers, air movers, HEPA units (if being used), hardwood floor drying machines, etc. While this article is intended to help you not become a victim of the system, you, in turn, can’t be a hindrance to the process.
Lastly, don’t try to tell your restorer what to do. Communicate with them. Try not to be annoying or “always looking over their shoulders,” but do ask that they update you daily on the progress of the job.
Most water damage jobs can take from 3 or 4 days on up to weeks and even months depending on the size of the job. Be patient.
I hope you never need restoration work (water, fire, mold) done in your home, but if you do, now you have an idea what to expect. And this doesn’t even address the possibility of asbestos, lead-based paint, and the such!