Question: When dealing with Property Damage due to Biohazards (blood, feces, bodily fluids), Water Damage, Fire, or Mold, who gets to hire the restoration company? Does the insurance choose or does the insured?
Answer: The insured!!!
Everything to Know About Property Claims and Hiring the Remediation Company
When making a claim most property owners are already feeling overwhelmed. Opening a claim means there has been a loss, and whether it is property damage due to a fire, water, or biological hazards, this is already a trying time without having to then navigate the claims process vetting vendors.
Calling the insurance company can be daunting, and when the call is made there will be a multitude of questions, including the very pressing: “Which restoration company are you going to hire?”
Who gets to decide? What does “Preferred Vendors” mean? Who are preferred vendors”?
Typically, the insurance claims adjuster will confirm coverage for some or all of the loss. Then, he or she may make a suggestion: “We have a list of Preferred (referred) Vendors in your area that we recommend you choose from. All are reliable and provide quality service. You can also choose a contractor of your choice. However, by choosing one of our referred Vendors we can guarantee the work and arrange repairs if the work is not completed properly for any reason.”
The insurance company’s main goal is to reduce their expenses on a claim. Referred vendors are companies that have agreed to set prices by the insurance company in exchange for steady referrals (work) at a reduced cost. The insurance company’s goal is to save money by paying less for repair work.
This arrangement works at first for the vendors because they will receive steady referrals, and works well for the insurance company because they can reduce their claims payout. Insurance companies save money on tear out, repair or replacement. Often preferred vendors are set up through third-party providers (brokers), who oversee the scope of repairs and determine the pricing which frees the adjustor to focus on other areas of their contracts.
Another foreseeable issue with this set up is the actual scope of repairs. When hiring an independent restoration company, a qualified individual thoroughly inspects the property, completes a through assessment, and then determines the scope of work needed to return the property to a pre-loss condition.
If using a referred Vendor, the insurance company (or their third-party provider) determines the scope of work. This is determined by a pre-set formula as to how much equipment and how many days they will “allow” on the project. Typically this could be less than what may actually be required, especially, as experience dictates, what is seen upfront may be underestimated once the walls are opened or flooring is removed. Biohazards can be far reaching, and only an ethical mitigation expert that is not bound by price restrictions should be assessing the property’s actual needs.
Referred vendors are not in a position to challenge the insurance adjustor’s assessment regarding repairs, even in the event that there is a discrepancy. Despite what the company has been trained and certified to do, the referred Vendor may lose their contract status if they do not abide by the decisions of the insurance company.
Focusing on COST over QUALITY is by far the quickest way to create a larger problem on the property. With regards to restoration work, choosing strictly on price will generally mean subpar remediation efforts. In order to maintain profits, yet maintain the low cost required by insurance companies, Preferred Vendors must cut corners elsewhere. Whether it be a rushed dry out with less equipment, or lower paid technicians with less training, guaranteed there will be a sacrifice somewhere.
In some cases, Biohazards (sewage, blood, or bodily fluids), Mold, Lead and/or Asbestos may not be properly addressed. There are higher costs for materials and time involved in following industry-standard procedures. Biohazard cleanup for instance is a high risk cleanup that exposes the home owner and technicians to potential pathogens. In California there are a multitude of certification bodies that oversee the proper handling, transport, and disposal of hazardous waste. Carrying the proper licenses, liability insurance limits, and certified technicians is not cheap. At the very least a restoration company should be able to produce a medical waste disposal contract and hazardous waste transporting paperwork to show that the waste was appropriately transported to a medical waste or hazardous waste treatment facility. In order to legally clean crime scenes, the company MUST be a registered hauler (meeting all insurance and training requirements) and be certified by the state. If the company cannot produce these documents, they are not likely able to certify that the space has been legitimately and safely remediated from a crime scene. Often in order to cut costs, the visible biological matter is removed, when actually, flooring or baseboards needs to be removed and thorough testing procedures to ensure adequate remediation is complete.
Finally, often, referred Vendors agree to pay a referral or “lead fee” for the jobs referred to them by the contracted insurance company. Unfortunately, this reduces already slim profit margins which in turn leads to cutting corners on product, equipment use, or labor. If the restoration company continues with these margins, they either go out of business, or remove themselves as a referred Vendor. This seems to be one of the major reasons for turnover of contractors on the Preferred Vendors list.
BOTTOM LINE: THE INSURED GETS to determine which company TO HIRE!
The BIOClean Team is a vendor for major cities, property management companies, and has worked on countless insurance claims as an independent vendor. After years of experience, the owner, Stacy Houston, understands liability. Not only has she fleshed out legal and ethical teachings in the hospital setting while onboarding teams and debriefing, but on the restoration side, she is methodical about documentation and compliance.
The BIOClean Team philosophy is to have total control over the scope of repairs. For that reason, they handle every restoration project correctly, according to industry standards, and do not cut corners.
- The BIOClean Team technician will do a through assessment of the scope of repairs and open a claim with the adjustor should the insured wish to move forward.
- The work is thoroughly documented from the moment the call is received, and throughout the entire project.
- Photos are included them with the scope of repairs submitted to the insurance company while invoices are calculated using Xactimate software numbers (the software most adjustors prefer). The BIOClean Team has never had a covered loss claim denied.
- In some instances, The BIOClean Team has provided GoPro Videos to further document the project. This is appreciated, especially when a field adjuster is not immediately available, or the interior of the dwelling is considered a hazard to enter. (Tear gas, crime scenes, extreme gross filth, extreme hoarding, or category 3 sewage leaks)
Hopefully, you will never need the services of a bioremediation specialist, but if you ever do, we encourage you to consider this information carefully. We can even file your claim for you and submit directly to your adjustor. If you do need to call the insurance company, go ahead and say: “I need to start a claim… And I’ve chosen The BIOClean Team as my remediation company.”