The DYOJO Podcast released a clip titled, "Igniter of an Industry - Remembering Martin "Marty" L. King." This phrase was penned by an industry Founding Father recognizing another property restoration historical icon, Cliff Zlotnik. Unfortunately Marty passed away in 2015, but as our good friend Pete Consigli, who is also the technical advisor for PropertyRestorationHistory.com, says,
“Marty had a vision for a new and emerging industry he called “damage repair.” Marty’s life’s work was to see the business of damage repair evolve into a profession. Fifty years after Marty had that dream, the legacy of the restoration industry is in the hands of those he influenced and many of those people are preparing to pass on the stewardship of the industry to the next generation. It is the hope of many that the next generation will take the industry to a place never imagined by the industry’s founders.”
In this video, which originally aired as part of The DYOJO Podcast Episode 85, we talk to John Pletcher. Mr. Pletcher was awarded the 2022 MLK Award at the Restoration Industry Association (RIA) Annual Convention. John shares his fond memories of being mentored by and working with Marty.
The DYOJO Insurance Claims Standard is a guiding principle that will assist owners, managers, and aspiring professionals to train their mindset and habits for success in the property restoration industry.
"Restore the property to resemble pre-loss conditions, with materials of like kind and quality; no more and no less."
The content of the video below is adapted from Chapter 1 of Jon Isaacson's latest best-selling book, How To Suck Less At Estimating: Habits For Better Project Outcomes. The same content will SOON be released as a training course through the Restoration Technical Institute. Included in this segment is an explanation of The DYOJO Claims Standard as well as a common scenario that a restoration professional might come across and how they would use this resource to help set the right expectation with all parties involved in the insurance claims project.
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What is one item that most property restoration owners and managers will agree is an issue in their business? Within the Top 5 responses will be some aspect of documentation. Anyone who has been working with water and fire damage mitigation or renovation for more than six months knows that documentation is the key to getting paid in this industry. Owners and managers regularly express that the pain of poor documentation is consistent, if not unbearable, in their businesses. So, how do we go about fixing this?
The unpopular truth is that poor documentation starts at the beginning of the process. As an owner or manager, before you can complain too loudly about the lack of thorough and consistent documentation from your team members in the field when was the last time you monitored your client intake process?
How would your technicians answer these questions:
Your client intake process is critical to setting up your team for successful outcomes. The estimator needs as many details as possible to be successful in invoicing for the work that your mitigation team has completed. Your mitigation team needs as many details as possible to be successful in responding intelligently and expediently to the needs of your customer.
Client intake is not something that should be left to chance, there should be a script and a form that gets filled out each time, regardless of who takes the call.
While many owners and managers have high aspirations for their businesses, many times what we do is not in line with what we say. Our habits do not reflect our expectations (dissonance - see Diagram 1). In chapter 9 of So, You Want To Be A Project Manager? I share a simple test for new managers,
“When you are having issues with performance, you should take a step back and ask as a leadership team, ‘Are we holding our team members to a higher standard than we are holding ourselves to.’”
While owners and managers preach it all the time, they must remember that success is a team effort. If you want your team to care about the mindset and habits that lead to clear and consistent documentation, they must observe everyone else working to do the same. You can’t just say that we all follow the same process, your team has to demonstrate it. Managers must be accountable for information flowing downstream if them want to see that example followed as information flows upstream.
When was the last time the managers or the owners went out on a call using the information and tools that their team members receive on a daily basis?
If you are experiencing the pain of poor documentation, there are no silver bullets or easy fixes. You should be encouraged to know that you are not alone and that improvements in these areas will be the result of committing to a few simple habits. Start with your client intake form and process, it may not seem like it will make a difference but accountability comes from clarifying the vision and being consistent with the process.
Clarity + Consistency = Accountability
Do you know the Three D’s of successful Insurance claims mitigation and repair projects?
What tools and best practices can help you improve your organizations ability to document and get paid for your services?
Documentation for property restoration is a critical element for restoration contractors who want to be paid for their services and policyholders who want their claims experience to be as smooth as possible.
Cleanfax Magazine is offering a FREE webinar and Q&A session with industry leaders:
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Bruce DeLoatch of DeLoatch Training
Jon Isaacson of The DYOJO Podcast and ARES Restoration (Puyallup, WA)
WHEN: Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at 1 pm EST (10 am PST)
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Water & Fire Damage Restoration Webinar Takeaways
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At times citizens of the United States joke that Florida is another world. The current insurance mess in The Sunshine State would point to one area where this is statistically accurate. More specifically, insurance claims lawsuits. Current Governor Ron DeSantis recently cited statistics demonstrating that his state generates 9% of property insurance claims but is the clear leader with 79% of the nation’s homeowner insurance lawsuits. In response, the Governor has called for a special session on property insurance, declaring that Florida citizens need assistance in the face of ever-rising premiums.
While anyone who has insurance should be asking, what can we learn from this situation, what most observers are asking, is who can/should we blame?
Senator Gary Farmer, a Democrat out of Ft. Lauderdale points the finger at insurance companies who routinely deny claims. He is a trial lawyer and stated,
“We must protect homeowners in Florida by calling a special session to address our state’s property insurance crisis, and the only way to effectively do so is to ensure that insurers are held accountable to their obligations to their customers.”
According to Insurance Journal, Florida’s domestic marketplace lost $1 billion during the first three quarters of 2020 which is reported to be more than double its underwriting losses in 2019. While the concern expressed by many is to protect the consumer from excessive rate hikes, the driver appears to be losses incurred by the insurers.
As chief spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, Mark Friedlander, throws shade upon, “Bands of unscrupulous roofers, going door-to-door, soliciting claims.” He believes that consumers are being persuaded to sign over benefits to their claims. In scenarios where coverage is denied by the carrier, the insurer settles rather than risk a trial in what Mark believes are, “Frivolous lawsuits by the thousands.” If you listen closely, even Mark notes that claims denials are a factor.
In 2021, Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier alerted the Florida House Commerce Committee of what he observed as consistently high litigation trends. According to The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and data from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR):
OIR analyzed the data between Florida and other states to attempt to determine the contributing factors. The research was inconclusive in detecting systemic patterns and the office offered no conclusion for the state's outlier status.
Altmaier suggested that legislators look into, “Reforming the state’s one-way attorney’s fee statute.” They want to enable policyholders to retain their rights to filing lawsuit but remove incentives for attorney, “To file illegitimate claims.” In 2019 the state enacted assignment of benefit (AOB) reforms which he believes, “Preserves important consumer protections, while providing a framework to ensure litigation brought against insurance companies is legitimate.”
Many argued leading up to 2019 that the AOB was at the root of rate increases. As such, consumer protection was the flag under which the calls for reform were waving. Yet, even with these reforms, Barry Gilway, president and CEO of Citizens Property Insurance, states, “The reality is, while AOB is going down, first-party litigation is going up.” If I understand this correctly, this means that AOB, which allowed contractors (third-party) to sue the carrier on behalf of, or in the first-party position, is now down but policyholders, the first-party contract holder with the carrier, is now suing directly?
If the above is true, consumers in Florida are dissatisfied with the actions of their carriers at the time of claims processing. As we stated in the opening paragraph, Florida is otherworldly as it is home to a buffet of natural disasters, including hurricanes, tropical storms, tropical depressions, tornadoes, wildfires, and floods, the state has several unique insurance-related operational factors, a few of which include:
We mentioned the “consumer protections” language which drove the AOB conversations and now they are the same concerns underlying this next round of reforms. Take a look at what proponents say about Senate Bill 76 and help me discern who is being “protected”:
Protection From Whom?
Do the three items above protect the consumer or the carrier? The insurance companies are clear in who they have on their suspect board as the “bad guys”. If that wasn’t already clear, they blame contractors and attorneys. But they know that few would listen to them if they came out and said that consumers need to be protected from excessive insurance rates while also presenting themselves as the mediators of justice in righting this wrong.
How does this logic go, “If contractors and attorneys didn’t charge so much, we (the insurance companies) could charge you less?” Does anyone believe this would be the outcome? If the politicians could pass legislation that would restrict what contractors and attorneys can charge for, then of course, the insurance companies will gladly reduce their prices. Just so we are clear, this is sarcasm. Yet, it appears that this is the consensus among many commenters following this, and similar stories.
How Do We Protect Consumers?
If the goals is consumer protection, the people must accept their responsibility to educate themselves on what they are buying, what the insurance policy covers, what it excludes, and what to expect during the claims process. As a general rule, it is best for the consumer to do business with people invested in their local market.
If you are an insurance policyholder, when you purchase your homeowners policy you should hire a local insurance agent who will walk you through the process and is committed to being actively involved whenever there is a claim. The opposite of this is shopping for the lowest rate, without understanding the coverage limitations, and/or hiring an agent who will direct you to a 1-800 number for claims filing while washing their hands of the process.
If you are a homeowner who has experienced damage, find a contractor who is based and active in the local community. You want to hire people who are going to care about their reputation when it comes to work quality and ensuring project completion.
While it is fun to talk about blame, the reality is that there are bad actors in each of the groups we discussed. Homeowners are not excluded from being in that category. There are plenty of opportunistic insureds who believe their policy should do more than restore them to pre-loss conditions during a claim.
In the rush to assign blame, often the loudest voices, or the deepest pockets, will prevail in painting the picture of who the culprit is. Consumers must pay attention to and play and active role in understanding that insurance is a key factor in protecting your largest asset, your home. Listen for fear tactics that attempt to persuade you, and your elected representatives into doing the wrong things for the right reasons. We should all be careful not to make a bad situation worse by restricting consumer options in future circumstances.
Jon Isaacson was a guest on the Restoration Rundown Podcast which is produced by the team at Ironclad Restoration Marketing. Host Ben Ricciardi drew out:
Ben recently released the updated version of his book, The No BS Guide To Internet Marketing For Restoration Contractors. Check out his book and podcast for quality tips on improving your marketing efforts and being educated when seeking outside assistance with this mission.
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