Are you filing an insurance claim with your home for the first time? These three key questions when filing an insurance claim will help you understand the core principles and navigate the process. These are written from the experience of an restoration professional with nearly 20 years assisting property owner’s recover from water and fire related damages.
As a homeowner, you want to make sounds decisions based upon information gathered from trusted professionals combined with your own experiences. Having the knowledge base to make a smart decision is key when you are attempting to maintain value, address current issues, and keep a long term perspective.
The insurance process can be cumbersome at times as it seems to be riddled with red tape and key words that seem to be written to trap policy holders into the nebulous world of rejected claims. If you find yourself in what is considered a "doubtful and/or disputed claim" our friend David Princeton of Advocate Claim Service (who was on The DYOJO Podcast Episode 1 and Episode 32) can assist you. On Episode 32, David shares a few additional questions that will help homeowners from getting taken advantage of.
Our three key questions when considering an insurance claim will assist you to make decisions on how to proceed with your next property damage loss. We will primarily discuss water damages in the following scenarios as these make up some of the most common homeowner related insurance claims are water related. Eight years of data from Travelers Insurance revealed that water related events accounted for 31 percent of its claims.
Claims Question #1 — Is this a covered loss or peril?
The number one question with a property insurance claim is whether or not it is a "covered peril." Another way to think of this is whether the source of the loss/peril is specifically excluded in your insurance policy. Most plumbing related water sources are included by standard policies which often cover plumbing leaks, pipe breaks, overflows, and the like.
According to the website Policy Genius, "In homeowners insurance, a “covered peril” is an event the insurance company agrees to reimburse you for should you file a claim. Covered perils include fire, lightning strikes, windstorms and hail, weight of snow and ice, theft, and vandalism."
Claims Question #2 — Was this sudden and accidental?
A common loss that is typically covered would be a scenario where the homeowner, or a tenant, returns home and finds that a plumbing line has burst and water is streaming through the structure right out the front door. Interior plumbing breaks are most often covered and the loss classifies as sudden and accidental, most likely this would be a covered loss.
Andrew McCabe, of Claims Delegates, who is a licensed public adjuster as well as a restoration professional, shares nine power questions to help homeowners navigate the claims process:
Mr. McCabe discusses these questions further with Bryan Close and Jon Isaacson on The DYOJO Podcast Episode 37. Water damage from a likely covered peril can become a bit of a grey area when there is a small leak that has caused damage over an extended period of time. Indicators such as extensive discoloration, microbial growth (the four letter word — mold), and/or dry rot could be a source for concern.
A refrigerator supply line leaking behind the appliance may not be noticed by a homeowner or a tenant until there is significant damage to the structure and flooring. While the extent of the damages were not exacerbated by the tenant or homeowner being negligent (they did not know about the loss), the evidence will show that the damages have been occurring outside of what would be considered “sudden and accidental.”
During the claims process the stakeholders will need to work to determine the source of the damage as well as the estimated duration of the loss.
Claims Question #3 — What is my deductible?
Most homeowner deductibles are $500 — $1,000 with many carriers transitioning to a 1% of value related policy (which can be much more than $1,000 on modern homes). An insurance deductible is the amount you as a policy holder have agreed to pay out of pocket in the instance that you file a claim.
A water damage loss that is approved by the carrier as a covered claim (peril) will encompass two parts:
Even if the loss is from a covered peril, and was confirmed as sudden and accidental, understanding the extent of the damages and the estimated cost are factors in determining whether it is in the insured’s best interest to file a claim. Identifying the extent of damages and the estimated cost for mitigation (drying out the structure) and repairs are important considerations in making decision whether or not to move forward with the property insurance claims process.
Restoration Contractors will often provide a free evaluation of your home. By using non-penetrating and/or penetrating moisture meters, thermal cameras, and their experiences, a good water damage specialist can assist you to identify the extent of a water damage in your home and provide you with a rough order of magnitude (ROM) for the scope of work.
Many of the same principles we wrote about in hiring the right abatement contractor apply when interviewing restoration contractors. In life we don’t always need to know the answer to every question, but knowing what questions to ask and who can help us find answers are critical tools for survival. Your home is a source of pride for you as an owner. You want to protect your asset by surrounding yourself with the information you need to make smart decisions.
If you need a recommendation, The DYOJO network may be able to assist. Our friends at All American Restoration Services (AARES) have been helping families in the Tacoma, Washington area repair their water or fire damaged homes for several years and have been a good friend to our podcast.
The DYOJO is The Do Your Own Job Dojo. A dojo is a space dedicated to learning and practicing martial arts. In this dojo we help growth minded professionals and people in a position of leadership to develop ownership and accountability in the pursuit of excellence.
In business teamwork is essential to an organizations ability to perform at the peak of its capacity. Teamwork must be grounded in trust. The foundation for trust to be built among multiple employees who will be empowered to work with each other, is laid by team members who consistently do their job.
In this equation, those in leadership can help this process evolve by clarifying roles and responsibilities for all employees.
Personal and Professional Development:
In the original Karate Kid movie, Sensei (teacher/master) John Kreese states the distinctives of the Cobra Kai Dojo:
From the example of Karate Kid, we see the difference in the people, process, and production of those trained by Sensei Kreese and karate master Mr. Miyagi. By all appearances, the process Mr. Miyagi utilizes for skills training would not produce a championship level fighter and his young apprentice Danny frequently questions his progress. The climax of the movie reveals that the skills and heart of young Danny has been mentored and developed to persevere through rise to the challenge in the face of an opponent is superior by most metrics.
Mentorship and Coaching for Achieving Goals:
When you commit to studying a martial art, you must find a mentor who you believe will help train you to master the craft you have chose and you must remain engaged in your skills development. The same is true in business. It is your job to pursue personal and professional development so that you can reach your potential. As you grow as a leader, you have a responsibility to repeat the process and help others to achieve their goals.
The DYOJO will help you to develop the will, the skill, and the chill to succeed.
Customized Business Coaching Strategies:
We take the time to listen to your vision, values, and goals so that we can assist you to build a strategy for achieving success. You are the hero of your story and our value proposition is to come alongside you to optimize your efforts. The DYOJO provides business coaching services and leadership development in person, online, and via remote group training.
In the DYOJO we are committed to these core concepts and resources for development:
What services does The DYOJO provide?
For growth minded employees in need of direction for continuing their career development:
For new managers who need to elevate their education and training for leadership:
For existing managers looking for tools to help them engage the modern workforce:
For organizations desiring to provide leadership development resources:
Why was The DYOJO Started?
The DYOJO helps leaders to intentionally develop their vision and values so that they can build teams that are clear, consistent, as well as accountable. We work to help you bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be as an organization. Through business coaching and leadership development, The DYOJO helps teams to increase their performance in the four key areas of sustainable success - people, process, production, and progress.
How can The DYOJO help?
The DYOJO Podcast and Born to Repair have teamed up to provide the water damage restoration equipment maintenance and repair tip of the week. Elan Pasmanick of Born To Repair (@borntorepair) was a guest on The DYOJO Podcast Episode 8 where he shared tips for extending the life of your water damage restoration equipment.
In this video, for Tip of the Week Episode 001, Elan demonstrates how to replace a stripped out nut on a dehumidifier. In property restoration keeping your equipment including air movers, low grain refrigerant or desiccant dehumidifiers, HEPA air scrubbers, and injectidry systems functional are key to profitability. These tips will help you keep your equipment fully stocked so that your team can continue operating at maximum capacity. Elan is a poet, performs mobile local equipment repairs in the San Diego, California area as well as distance repairs coaching via calls and/or facetime.
We first aired this segment on The DYOJO Podcast Episode 38 with Chris Stanley of IA Path. Chris shared how those interested in independent adjusting and appraising can get to work within 90 days. Check out Born To Repair on Instagram @borntorepair.
The DYOJO Podcast is the INFOtainment podcast for the skilled trades - helping you shorten your DANG learning curve. Watch on YouTube or listen on Spotify and/or Apple podcasts.
Throughout the skilled trades, many people struggle with finishing drywall and finishing concrete. In this article we will discuss some of the foundational concepts relevant to drywall repairs. By reading this, you will either have a better understanding of what you need to do in order to make your own wallboard and texture repairs or be better educated to hire and judge the quality of a contractor for your drywall project.
There are numerous reasons why a home or business owner would be looking for drywall repairs. I adapted this article from one that I wrote back in 2008 when I had my own construction business. Prior composing my thoughts, I was getting a sandwich at a local eatery when I overheard a group of teenagers bragging about how they had just finished repairing the walls from a party that got out of hand. These teens were hoping that their parents wouldn't notice the drywall patches when they returned. I still wonder who was more surprised.
My friends in property restoration know full well that doors are notorious for having a grudge against drywall. People have been known to poke, punch, or even fall through sheetrock at various stages of life.
A few facts about gypsum wallboard systems:
Regardless of the source of the damage to your drywall, you now have to decide whether it is worth spending your time to repair these areas or if you will hire someone else to complete the task for you. Whether you are doing the repairs yourself or discussing the cost with contractors, you may find these points helpful:
Once the damage has been cut out, the wallboard supported and installed, and the various coats of joint compound have been applied, the surface is ready for texture. Texturing a drywall repair adds another level of complexity. Wall textures vary from smooth, to lightly applied "orange peel", to heavy textures, knockdown applications, and many hand troweled variations. For the texture to blend, it often needs to be applied at least one foot (preferably more) beyond the furthest point of the joint compound layers.
If you are a new contractor struggling to charge consistently for your drywall repairs, you may find this video to be helpful. Jon Isaacson, author of Be Intentional: Estimating, discusses some of the key line items for building up a drywall repair scope of work in Xactimate. If you are looking for drywall repairs or reconstruction after water and/or fire damage, please check out our friends at All American Restoration Services (AARES). AARES co-sponsors our live show, South Sound Connection which airs every Tuesday at 9am PST.
South Sound Connection (SSC) goes LIVE every Tuesday at 9am PST on Facebook, LinkedIn, and The DYOJO YouTube. This week we will be speaking with Tacoma Comedy Club, which due to the pandemic orders has had to rebrand to Tacoma Burger Company and has also added Grit City Breakfast.
Following the SSC LIVE show, the first 40 people to visit Grit City Breakfast, located within what we all know as Tacoma Comedy Club, and to mention "South Sound Connection" will receive a FREE breakfast burrito.
Like many local businesses, it was one thing to survive the first round of shutdowns. The second announcement that live entertainment venues would be closed throughout the state was crippling for the local fixture following their final shows of 2020 with comedian Pauly Shore. Owner Adam Norwest was interviewed in July and commented in The News Tribune, “On Wednesday we were a business, and on Thursday, we became criminals with one statement."
South Sound Connection (SSC) LIVE was created as a partnership between The DYOJO Podcast and All American Restoration Services (AARES) to highlight local entrepreneurs, businesses, and community efforts. So far the duo has released three live video events including:
Facing reality, Adam and his team decided to pivot their business and expand the services of their existing kitchen. In August, Tacoma Comedy Club became Tacoma Burger Company. The News Tribune noted, "The club has a full kitchen and regularly serves a small, rotating menu of burgers, sandwiches and desserts. Previous patrons will recognize a few favorites at Tacoma Burger Company, such as the peanut butter bacon cheeseburger and the Bleu Buffalo salad with grilled, not fried, chicken."
Watch South Sound Connection (SSC) LIVE and then get your butt over to Grit City Breakfast, aka Tacoma Burger Company, aka Tacoma Comedy Club. The first 40 people to mention "South Sound Connection" will receive a FREE breakfast burrito sponsored in partnership with:
An operations manager, Canadian commercial adjuster, CEO and chief strategy officer walk into a podcast...Chris Phillipsen, Alex Blagojevic, Kevin Hussey and Jeff Turner join The DYOJO Podcast to discuss their experiences with Docusketch.
Shout outs for Actionable Insights who sent me a killer branded hat and a Grip6 belt, something I had been considering purchasing for some time. While Seth and Whatley have developed some awesome resources for restorers, such as their monthly Xactimate updates newsletter, I am suspicious that their AI (pun intended) may also be listening in on members of our community.
Before the hate mail starts rolling in, please understand that in my mind I thought of the multi-member podcast panel before I heard Gerrett Stier's GMS Podcast Episode 44 titled The New Guys. Gerrett did an awesome job of discussing the challenges of starting a restoration business with four owners with less than 3 years of experience. I highly recommend listening to this episode with:
Please note, this episode of The DYOJO Podcast is not intended to be a sales pitch for Docusketch. Docusketch has not paid for advertising. When we looked at the available data, there appeared to be an abundance of information about Matterport, including an interview from our friends at the GMS Podcast as well as Blue Collar Nation, whereas there was much less available for Docusketch. This is our attempt at helping shorten your DANG learning curve by getting four unique perspectives from users of this product.
Topics for The DYOJO Podcast Ep. 40 include:
Chris describes himself as, "The kind of guy who buys his own tools." Which isn't a perspective that you find in many professionals, especially when it comes to spending thousands of dollars on a 360 degree camera system such as Matterport. Just before he was going to pull the trigger, a friend of his told him about a program that he was beta-testing called Docusketch.
Mr. Phillipsen has been using Docusketch for a little over a year and a half and has just begun the process of training another employee in their company to utilize the resource. In Chris' opinion Docusketch is user friendly and the trainee seems to be picking things up rather quickly. Chris uses the Madventure 360 camera and has found it to be useful for project documentation as well as marketing.
Chris mentioned several times that a user must remember, "The camera sees what you see." In his estimation a 1,500 square foot home can be captured in about 20 minutes and the 2D transfer to an ESX file takes about 24-48 hours. He says he likes Docusketch because it is lighter, less expensive, and the conversion package is much more affordable as well.
Alex was introduced to Docusketch in October of 2019. To her knowledge their company, Claims Pro, was the first independent adjusting firm to adopt what they call the "smart inspect program". This program uses Docusketch and Encircle in collaboration with each other to create a full documentation package for each loss.
Alex says that for their needs Docusketch is perfect with the 2D floor plan and the 3D tours. She uses the Madventure camera and sends her information to an internal team that creates estimates remotely for each claim. In Canada she has observed programs such as Matterport and Docusketch becoming the norm for contractors, especially preferred vendors.
We had a little fun, asking whether it was true that the reason her company chose Docusketch over Matterport was because the later could not integrate with the metric system.
As Mr. Hussey's company was considering which system to incorporate into their arsenal, they found the price of Docusketch to make the most sense being that they could but multiple cameras for the price of one from Matterport. Their team has trained technicians to run the program because, as Kevin says, "We like to see our estimator in his seat estimating."
As has been said by all of our interviewees, Kevin hasn't had to utilize the Docusketch customer service much but whenever he has had to reach out they have been very responsive. He has been using Docusketch over 16 months within all aspects of their business including mitigation, reconstruction, and contents.
While Jeff is not an objective source on his own product, he did not speak disparagingly about his competitor Matterport. He notes the reason that there is more information about Matterport is that they have much more money and resources than the Docusketch team.
Bryan Close, the co-host of Pro vs. Joe Podcast (the podcast within the podcast) and co-owner of All American Restoration Services in Tacoma, Washington, joined me in the discussion with Jeff. Bryan has been looking into Docusketch and Matterport for some time for his company which focuses on reconstruction.
Jeff was very personable and our conversation definitely delivers on the spirit of INFOtainment that we seek at The DYOJO Podcast. He shared many of the unique features of the Docusketch system as well as some of the backstory into developing the product to serve property restoration professionals.
Guests & Features:
The DYOJO Podcast - the INFOtainment podcast for the skilled trades. Helping you shorten your DANG learning curve. WATCH on The DYOJO Youtube or LISTEN on Apple and/or Spotify. Please subscribe, like and share with your network.
Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, is a 19 year veteran of the property restoration industry and a business coach through his organization The DYOJO.