“How can I deal with conniving Insureds?”

Question: How can I deal with money-grubbing insureds?

Steve’s Solution: Pre-document EVERYTHING and then “git out of Dodge” FAST!

Thanks again, Steve, for yet another incredible SFS: Business Transformation last week!  Thanks to the Business Infrastructure you delivered in the last SFS our growth has exploded and we’ll gross over $8,000,000.00 this year. (And having Jeff in every year to teach a VAST seminar to all our staff and sub-contractors has been HUGE.)

But Steve, I am still feeling pretty beat up. One problem is our customers (insureds) are constantly trying to beat us out of money.  They use various nefarious reasons (really just excuses!) to extract money out of me by loudly proclaiming poor service and/or poor quality when it is time to pay up!

I know you say that “making Cheerleaders out of the Insured will make a Cheerleader out of the adjuster”. But Steve, I am so tired of giving in to these lying, scheming thieves who really are conning both the adjuster and me. Any thoughts?

Frustrated in Florida

Wow, Frustrated. Let me first say I feel your pain. You aren’t the first restoration contractor to share this stuff with me. People ARE getting more “opportunistic” and a smart contractor needs to be proactive. I’m not sure there is one huge answer/solution to this challenge. But here’s a few thoughts…

Don’t get all “hot and bothered”. Seriously.  Just expect customers to play their games and don’t get your “panties all in a wad” (Isn’t this a Florida expression?) when they do. And when they turn out to be quality, honest people then you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Overall this is a real challenge to plot how to deal with. Why? Because you don’t want to appear suspicious and make your normal, good clients jump through a lot of hoops to catch the minority that are crooks.

One way to get on top of the connivers is to document EVERYTHING. (And your honest Insured’s will appreciate this documentation too IF you cloak in in our SFS suggested “attitude of care and concern”.) So look up the Production Room Sheet in your SFS Operations Manual under “Fire Restoration”.

Your Inspector that scopes the loss will (with the Insured’s help) fill out a separate Production Room Sheet for every room in the house. He or she will specify how each element is to be treated or restored. Then each day as you finish a given item the tech will sign and date that space and then your Job Supervisor will initial and date it too. But now here is the perfect way you “get ahead of the game”…

Your supervisor should walk the job at least daily with the Insured pointing out what has been accomplished since their last “tour”. Have the customer inspect each completed element (for example, the walls in their living room) and IF they are happy just ask them to initial and date in the last column marked “Insured’s Approval”.

The advantage here? It will be MUCH more difficult (but not impossible) for the client to complain later IF they have approved each step in the job. When we implemented this “progressive inspection/approval” concept our restoration complaints dropped by almost 90%!

NOTE: Yes, you can do the same thing with contents- even on pack outs. We would put completed items and open boxes in a staging area and every few days ask the Insured to come down and inspect their possessions. Then IF they were happy with them they would sign off on a form.

This “progressive inspection/approval” procedure is a positive Moment of Truth for all customers (even the “good ones”) and it certainly dramatically cuts the “late blooming complaints”. It is difficult for the client to “nefariously complain” when they remember that they inspected and signed off on all elements of the job.

One more reminder would be to get the job done FAST. Both the restoration and the insurance industry have learned the longer the loss drags on the more Insureds  will complain!

Let me know how it goes!


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