After a fire, flood, or other severe damage strikes your home or business, panic can set in. What should I do? Who can I call? How fast can I get a remediation company to clean up the mess and repair the damage? Be careful! Unqualified and unscrupulous companies, who have no expertise with major remediation work, may arrive at your home or business right after a damage situation and prey on the property owner to hire them immediately. The best advice? Check with your insurance agent or adjuster before signing anything.
Call your insurer first and ask for a list of qualified companies. Sorting among trustworthy companies and unscrupulous companies is difficult when your home or business is in disarray – companies who attempt to rush you into signing a contract may be the last people you’d ever want to hire. Your carrier’s agents and adjusters know who can be trusted and who to avoid. Your insurer likely will not make the choice for you, but calling companies they suggest is definitely the best way to proceed. When you do reach the two, three or four companies they recommend, here’s what to ask for:
- An on-site inspection by someone on their staff.
- References of other home or business owners they have worked for within two years.
- License verification, liability insurance, and BBB Ratings.
- A written cleanup and remediation plan and schedule. Ask how they will guarantee work schedules and what end date you can expect.
- An equipment list.
- A payment schedule. Avoid large deposits in advance of work being performed. There are too many stories of remediation nightmares in which unsuspecting property owners pay upfront and see checks cashed while the service company vanishes. Always make payments to a company entity, never an individual, and use credit cards when possible. Your credit card company can help if your contractor doesn’t complete the work.
Most important, don’t sign anything that you don’t understand. Seek advice from your insurer or a qualified contractor so you aren’t later shocked with another mess – this time a financial one – to clean up.
Count on your local Paul Davis business to be a sound and secure resource whenever questions arise after wind, rain, or other damage to your home or business. www.pauldavis.com