The first step in our ordeal was to meet with an insurance adjustor from Travelers. I have not had to deal with too many insurance claims issues for personal matters throughout the years. If you are not familiar with the process, most insurance company web sites provide a link to describe the process. Travelers devotes a link on their web page as to what to expect from the insurance claim process.
Two days after we returned home , I was scheduled to meet with the adjustor from the insurance company. She would be the first of three insurance adjustors that we would meet with during the process. After walking through the house with her and looking at the extent of the damage, she advised me that the scope of the damage exceeded the limits for her authority. I was told we would need to meet with another adjustor out of Lansing, Michigan because of the dollar amount of the damage.
The second meeting was set up within the next week. The adjustor spent time at the property to determine the scope of the damage. He compiled an initial report/assessment of the damages, which would later be amended after a contractor was hired. Unfortunately, he would be called to temporarily relocate for 30 days to Maryland after Hurricane Irene. We were then introduced to a third adjustor who would help us with the personal property portion of our claim. She too would end up in Maryland to assist with claims due to Irene. Although my wife would have preferred more in person contact with the adjustor, much of the claim was handled via the phone, email and ordinary mail.
There are two types of personal property coverage that most insurance policies contain. Policies usually provide for Replacement Cost of personal property or Actual Cash Value of the proeprty damaged. Our policy provided for replacement cost coverage. The most difficult part of this part of the claims process is to keep track of your assets. Organization skills are necessary to keep track of items at the dry cleaners, in storage or in some box at some location. Upon return of the items, it is a good idea that you carefully examine the items for damage. There were several items that the water mitigation company felt were clean or not damaged, which after careful examination, were replaced due to damage discovered.
Selecting a contractor is also an important decision in the process. It is a decision that falls to the homeowner, but the insurance company may have a preferred list of contractors. I was uncomfortable with using a contractor that was on the insurance company’s short list. There may be benefits to utilizing a contractor having familiarity with the Insurance company’s software programs and requirements for repayment. However, I believe that it is equally important that you hire a contractor to look out for your best interests and not the bottom line of the insurance company.
The rebuilding process can be very stressful. There are many decisions to be made during the process. Decisions on materials (tile, carpet, floor coverings, cabinets, etc.) need to be made in a timely fashion. Budgetary constraints are also present to stay within the allocations set out by the insurance company’s claims adjustor. If you are building a house, it seems like there is a more time to deliberate, research and to make your decisions.
Finally, there is the personal family stress during the process. It seems that every day life is tough enough, but add in the complications of living out of boxes, not in your own home, while your home gets a makeover. Add to it the several times that our temporary landlord had an open house or real estate showing of the unit that we were living in, and the four months after we returned from vacation were no piece of cake. My eight year old daughter was a trooper during the process. However, you can see her excitement in the picture attached as the completion date for our home became a reality.
This is the third in a series of blog posts to chronicle our ordeal as we deal with the restoration of our home. My next (and final) post, will deal with our return home before Christmas. My blog postings have not been solely about legal issues, but structured to give some insight into what it is like to deal with a devastating loss and the challenges that one faces in trying to rebuild their home.