Posts Tagged tips

How to get storm damage repairs for an insurance claim

How to get storm damage repairs for an insurance claim

8 Things to know before hiring a contractor for storm repairs

Insurance can be a real godsend if your home receives storm damage, but it only writes the checks. It’s up to the homeowner to get the work done and finding good, reliable contractors can be a challenge. You want to know the work will be done correctly, timely and completely. If a problem turns up later, you’ll need to be able to get in contact with the contractor to make it right. Many property damage claims are made after a major catastrophe and local contractors are quickly booked up. Out of state companies come in to fill the demand. The question is, who can you trust? Here are some general tips to reduce your risks and have a more favorable outcome:

1. Make sure your contractor is licensed in Iowa.

Why is important to have a licensed contractor? If you hire an unlicensed contractor, you are assuming more risk. You become the de facto general contractor and are responsible for the quality of work and it is in compliance with the local building codes.  Ask for their Iowa license number and verify by looking it up on the Iowa Workforce Development site. You can search by registration number or by contractor/business name.  Search for an Iowa contractor.

2. Ask for a certificate of insurance.

They should have both:

  • General liability insurance
  • Workers compensation insurance

Without workers compensation insurance, you could be held liable if a contractor or their employee is injured while working on your property. If your contractor were to accidentally damage your neighbor’s property when working on your house and they don’t have general liability insurance, you can be personally liable. The certificate of insurance should be in the name of the business doing the work and the effective dates of the policy should cover the time your work is being done. Look for a minimum of $1M in liability coverage.

3. Check credentials.

  • Talk to references. Make sure they are not outdated, their work should’ve be done in the last few years.
  • Do a Google search and check several sites, including BBB.org. Look for user reviews and beware of anyone with too many complaints.
  • Ask how long they have been doing this kind of work (both as an independent contractor and working for someone else).

4. Get a detailed, written estimate.

It should include everything on your insurance estimate (unless you hire multiple contractors). Don’t allow unlimited or unspecified rates for labor or material. They should refer to your insurance estimate for materials and give you a flat fee.

  • Upgrades or work outside the scope of the insurance estimate should be approved by your insurance adjuster especially if you’re going over your budget.
  • Ask about Class 4 impact resistant shingles. Have you noticed that not all roofs in your neighborhood are damaged the same? It may be some have newer or higher quality shingles. Class 4 shingles cost more than standard shingles, but they can help prevent the need for re-roofing after every storm saving you from another insurance claim. Many insurance companies give generous discounts, up to 15%, for Class 4 shingles so the extra cost can be negligible. Not all roofers will suggest it because repeat customers are good for their business.

5. Get a general timeline.

Depending on the extent of the damage, a delayed schedule can expose your home to further damage. Make sure you are in agreement on the timeline.

6. Know who’s doing the work.

Will they be doing the work with their own crew or subbing out all or part of the work? Check the sub’s credentials as well.

7. Ask about warranties.

Not all contractors will guaranty their work. If one does, get the details in writing and make sure you are able to follow up with them years down the line.

8. Don’t pay in advance.

I’ve been burnt by this personally and had to pay legal fees to get my money back when the contractor abandoned the job. No more than 15% down should be necessary to secure your place on their calendar. If they don’t have good credit with their material vendors, that’s a red flag for you.

Storm damage repairs

Storm damage from the August 10, 2020 derecho in Iowa.

Posted in: Insurance Tips

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Ridesharing? Check with your insurance agent first.

Ridesharing? Check with your insurance agent first.

Ridesharing networks such as Uber and Lyft have changed the way we call for a ride. Once approved, drivers use their personal vehicle to give rideshare app users a ride for a fee. Most personal auto policies specifically exclude coverage when the vehicle is being used as a “public or livery conveyance.” In fact many insurance carriers will not accept a vehicle at all if it’s used for ridesharing or will cancel the policy if it is subsequently used this way. That’s why it’s important to have a conversation with your insurance agent before you decide to get into the ridesharing business.

Introducing Progressive’s new Ride-Sharing Coverage in Iowa

For the insurance companies that do allow it, there may be a gap in coverage where you’re off your personal auto policy and yet covered buy the Transportation Network Company’s (TNC) policy. Your personal auto policy may only cover you when you’re not using the TNC’s app. As soon as you turn on the app and are available for rides, your personal coverage stops. The coverage from the TNC’s policy doesn’t begin until a match has been made between the driver and the person hailing a ride. If that’s the case, there is a gap in coverage between the time the driver turns on the app and is “available” for rides and when a passenger match is made.

Ridesharing Coverage Gap

Safeco Insurance for example is coming out with their “RideSharing Coverage” that is designed to provide coverage during this specific period of time when the driver is not covered by the Safeco auto policy or the TNC’s policy. Note that this endorsement is rolling out state-by-state and as of January 2017, is not yet available in Iowa. The endorsement covers only the vehicle identified for ridesharing, not necessarily all vehicles on the policy.

Progressive, State Auto and Integrity are some of the carriers currently offering TNC coverage. As ridesharing increases in popularity more and more insurers will offer this coverage.

Don’t assume you are always covered if you plan to become a driver for a TNC, check with your agent first. Of course if you use Uber or Lyft as a rider (not a driver), this doesn’t apply to you. Learn more about your personal auto insurance from your local agent.

Posted in: Insurance Tips

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