Here at Eastco we know with insurance comes questions (how long does it take me to get approved, what is included, how much will it cost). Here are some of the most common questions our clients ask us about Insurance. If you have any questions about insurance that you don’t see on the list or want more information about please call (830) 980-4771 to speak to one of our knowledgeable staff and we will help you answer any questions you have so you can start building the home of your dreams as soon as possible!
Trick question, this is mostly a myth, and the Underwriters count on some believing it. Most adjusters would advise to FILE a claim any time there is damage to your property. If you are unsure, many would advise to file. You will not be cancelled because you filed a single claim. Unlike car insurance, home insurance premiums are not based on an individual basis, but by amount insured, zip code, neighborhood, credit score, proxy bmity to fire stations, type of construction, age of home, etc..
Yes, they care. They entered into a contract with you and their business is based on that contract and perception of fairness. They operate under the same set of rules in that contract that you do—you are on equal footing. Of course, homeowners are less knowledgeable about certain aspects of the policy. Insurers have continually raised the bar on customer service and try to quickly and efficiently handle your claim.
Good question. There isn’t a magic spell and, unless it is for emergency repair no one is going to show up the next day to fix the damage. There is a process which handles thousands and thousands of claims a year. A very few insurers that have Preferred Service Providers (Eastco is one, actually) that do the claim without the usual aggravations, guarantee the repairs, and are familiar with the process. But, the process is the same, just compressed a little. One often discovers more damage than can be seen on that initial site visit, so exact schedules often don’t stay true.
The deductible can be large or small depending on the policy, and always applies. Home damage is not planned (we hope!) and is therefore stress, mentally, physically and fiscally. Since that deductible is unplanned, some finance it. The initial visit by the Adjuster and the assessment of the damage (“Scope of Damage”) is followed by an Estimate of Costs based on what was seen, or “Scope of Repairs”. Then cost in Materials and Labor is calculated by detaild “Line Items”. That initial number often pretty fluid with Replacement Value, Depreciation, Cash Value, Not Insured, Changing Scope of Damage, etc all affecting the end total. The Deductible is almost always paid up front and the settlement is usually paid in two payments of one initial payment, and a final payment when work is completed.
Many people are involved from whoever created the original document, how it is interpreted by Law and other agencies, the general policies of the insurer, the adjuster (who may or may not work for the Insurer, perhaps the Agent, the chain of command of the company, the Agent has little involvement, …. And YOU.
You absolutely MUST (well, should…) be present for the initial Adjuster visit to describe what happened, when, why, how, what was done when after that—every claim has a story. You will not be paid for taking time off work, but the adjusters are flexible and accustomed to challenges. The adjuster will answer questions as well and guide you through the claims process and often has a wide range of construction knowledge. Sometimes, the adjuster is an agent of the company and often is independent. That person understanding, and the two of you agreeing to the settlement is essential. If you two can’t see eye to eye, or the for some reason they are AWOL in professionalism (very unlikely), contact the Insurer. Everyone has a bad day. Or, request a different adjuster—customer service is as important as the bottom line. Be reasonable. Be honest. Be attentive. And, Be There.
There can be numerous reasons for this common event of all or part of a claim being denied, and they should be explained to you. A Valid Claim is accidental, caused by an external factor (not wear and tear, or gradually over time), not involve illegal activity, and, of course, be covered in the contract. If you truly disagree, one can move up the hierarchy to try for a better explanation. They may do a reinspection and get a different answer. If you still feel in the right, move up the chain of command, or contact the State Department of Insurance. Contract language can be read a variety of ways, but they must be interpreted consistently. As much as they might want to, if paying your claim would change the precedent and they would have to pay all similar claims that are not paid now… the odds are against you. Of course, that works both ways and the desire for perception of fairness is huge.
You choose. You can do it yourself if you have time and the skills, and understand that the devil is in the details—and want to deal with permits, inspections, researching and interviewing the numerous trades needed, and making sure everyone is doing their job on time and in budget and handle the liability issues.
The Insurer will not pay more than they have to, if they did, your premium would be much larger. So they will want to repair instead of replace whenever possible. The first estimate is just that—not an allowance handed down in stone. Minor disagreements are normal and will work themselves out. The math involved involves the damages, adjustments for each trade involved (roofing, siding, drywall, carpenter, plumber, electrician, etc), replacement cost value, cash value, deductible, depreciation, etc. Money isn’t just “given” away—if the repair isn’t made, or item replaced in the time allowed, there will not be a payment for those items.
Depreciation is only applied to replacement, not repair. You wouldn’t pay a new car price for a used car, so why should they? It is determined on a component-by-component basis and has nothing to do with the raising value of the home.
In short, a company that works regularly with the insurance field will understand how to file for and get approved Supplements(unseen damage) for extending the Scope of damage and repair/replace based on what is discovered during the project. They are accustomed to handling multiple trades in the type of work that happens with home damage, whether it be Water, Wind or Hail, Fire, etc.
You don’t “have to” get three estimates. You don’t have to use the contractor recommended. You don’t have to choose the lowest bid. To use a Handyman to repair and rebuild is akin to using a medical student to perform bypass surgery. You are entitled to employ a full-time restoration professional who is licensed, insured, of good reputation, and can demonstrate their experience in insurance damage repair.
No. You can choose to do something else. If you had carpet, and want to do Hardwood floors, you can. The Insurer will only pay for the lesser cost, whichever it is. But, if you have dayglow carpet from the 70’s, you can choose something else. This may even be the opportunity to do a larger renovation. Get an estimate for the original Scope of Repairs, anything above that is at your discretion. Kitchen/Bathroom renovation, walls removed, change in flooring, are all normal to consider.
The timetable is highly variable depending upon the Scope of work, the availability of tradesmen and materials, inspections and approvals, and other factors. Delays are inevitable, but the insurance industry has every desire for the claim experience to be as short and hassle free as possible. Eastco has our method of communicating timetables, expectations, establishing material selections which is our Client Portal.
Well, there will be little disagreements. The Scope of Repairs is the blueprint of the written estimate of what exactly needs to be done, and the kinds and amounts of materials needed. It is like a generic recipe, and the trick is to get two chefs to agree on the exact recipe and cost for the repairs while shopping at two different supermarkets. That is where the Line Item list comes in.
A written estimate for “roof repair” is not very detailed. Are they going to remove the existing shingles (recommended) and haul them away? Does it include vents and flashings? Perhaps the work can’t be done without removing and replacing the fence, or scaffolding is needed in an area, or some roof decking has to be replaced. A more detailed list of items and costs and explanations and justifications where needed should bring the variances within a small amount.
Be reasonable and patient.
Payment checks often include the Mortage company—have them sign first and get the name of the person you are sending it to. Get an Unconditional Lien Release from your contractor upon payment
Wind damage to the roof or fence or tree hitting a house is usually a fairly quick process. Water and fire damage is often more involved requiring “dry down” of opening walls and baseboards or toe kicks of cabinets, removal of carpet and dehumidifiers running until the moisture level is lowered—usually a couple of days. Then there may be drywall and paint, cabinet repair/replacement, flooring etc. Fire has more added on to that of dealing with smoke damage and possibly structural damage.
P.O. Box 700293
San Antonio, TX 78270