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Divide your water losses into two “phases”

It just ticked me off! Water damage clients always LOVED me until they got the check from their insurance company. Then (even though they had been paid for my entire bill less their deductible) I would get “The Call” from a super-angry Insured:

“I can’t believe you charged me $4,000.00 to suck up the water! If I had known how much you were going to charge I would have BOUGHT NEW CARPET!”

WOW! One moment I was a knight in shining white armor! Then suddenly I was magically transformed into a blood-sucking leech! The problem? My failure to communicate before hand that MOST of that $4,000.00 was for mitigation and simply wasn’t available for buying them new carpet. So I made this issue go away by starting to:

Divide the water loss into two phases. We placed “emergency services” such as extraction, pad removal (if needed), tearout, contents moving and drying equipment rental under the heading “Damage Containment Phase”. Then the re-installation and cleaning of the carpet and the “reapplying” of the ScotchGard was put under a “Restoration Phase” heading.

We even gave our techs an Initial Water Damage Containment Phase Estimate form for more accurate pricing for this first phase. So now the tech simply said,

“Mr. Jones, we don’t know yet what all it will take to restore your home. But we do know we need to get Lake Erie out of your living room and dry the structure to prevent further damage! So I’m going to fill out this Damage Containment estimate form on what this first initial phase will require. Then 2 or 3 days from now you can meet with your insurance company and my boss and decide on the next steps.”

BINGO! Now right up front the home owner understood that about 80% of the total loss would be required whether the carpet was replaced or not.  So now the client realized that he or she only had around 800 bucks for new carpet instead of the full 4,000 dollars.

Even better- we shifted the stressful “Will I get new carpet out of this?” question to later in the process. AND I placed the confrontational “installing new carpet vs. restoring the old carpet” issue squarely on the shoulders of the adjuster where it belonged.  After all, the adjuster doesn’t depend on the home owner signing off on his check!  So let him be the bad guy!

Steve Toburen

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