The Journey from Before to After

The journey from Before to After begins with a phone call, either from the property owner or an insurance agent, that requests emergency assistance regarding a property that has just been damaged by fire or water. As the response crew and equipment are assembled, a contractor contact goes out to the site. This contractor contact will assess the damage, meet with the property owner, and determine the steps required to stabilize the property. At this point, the property owner will deputize the contractor in writing to work with the carrier to assure completion of the emergency work.

The contact briefs the crew as it arrives on site to begin its work. This may involve emergency board up, or water remediation. While the crew begins to stabilize the property, those in the office confer with the insurance carrier to obtain information about insurance coverage of the site, so that the initial scope of work can be scaled to fit within coverage terms. This is to avoid or minimize out of pocket expense for the property owner. The contractor contact, sometimes called a “man in charge,” works with the property owner on the initial scope of work that fits within the insurance coverage and the property owner’s budget. Typically, the initial stabilization cost is well within the coverage, so that a substantial amount remains for full restoration.

Once the property is stabilized, the office discusses the scope of work for restoration with the owner and the insurance adjuster. The discussion with adjuster is most often a negotiation, as the adjuster seeks to minimize the loss in dollars, and the contractor seeks to budget for the best restoration. Once the carrier approves the restoration’s scope of work, repairs are scheduled with the owner and draws are scheduled with the owner. At this point, the contractor addresses the deductible, first determining it with the carrier, then helping the property owner navigate budgeting for what has become an out of pocket expense. Frequently, a property owner requests additional work or upgrades outside the scope of insurance replacement. When this occurs, the contractor develops a separate budget, called an “extra to owner,” for the property owner’s approval, The extra to owner saves money and resources, since the staging and crew are already in place and the extra to owner can be integrated into the restoration project.

Because of the differences in policies, often arising from when they were written and whether they were ever updated, the scope of the policy and the deductible can vary widely. The contractor helps the property owner make difficult choices that the policies can present: an older policy may provide a low deductible, but leave necessary system code upgrades for the owner to pay, while a more recent policy may cover system code upgrades, but provide for a very high deductible. While these considerations are worked out before the work begins, with the property owner and the carrier, working within the insurance coverage remains a concern throughout the restoration project.

Once the contractor completes the restoration, he goes over the work with the property owner for approval. When the property owner signs the Certificate of Completion, the project is regarded as finished. “Before” has now become “After” with the property restored to its original state, if not improved along the way.