A customer called us about a water and mold damaged apartment Tuesday night. On Wednesday they signed the work authorization to proceed with remediation. On Thursday morning the customer gave us the name of the insurance carrier.
Then that afternoon I walked the unit with the property manager and informed him that I needed direction from the adjuster as to whether he wants to start immediately or schedule an assessment with a CIH first. I contacted the insurance carrier and scheduled a walk-thru with the assigned adjuster afterwards. I did the walk through this afternoon. About an hour later the customer called and said we weren’t authorized to discuss anything with the adjuster and to return all keys and remove equipment.
What in the world did I do wrong?
Puzzled in Kansas City
Very likely nothing, Puzzled. You probably got “caught in the crossfire” of a developing ugly situation that would have bit you in the butt later anyway.
But it is a good question for the future. The answer, as with most problems between human beings (and yes, I have it on good authority that most adjusters are human … sort of) is improving communication.
1. Do you have a form that you review with the customer before they sign the authorization delineating responsibilities and who you will b e working with/for? (Actually you do if you are a SFS graduate. It’s in your Strategies for Success Operations Manual in the section marked “Water Damage Restoration”.)
2. Do you have a form where you fill out all the applicable contact numbers with the customer on the initial visit? (Ditto above, it’s in your SFS ops manual.) If your client has given you all the phone numbers or at least you have asked for them and they told you where to find them they can’t (maybe) get mad later if you use them.
Communication during the loss-
1. Always try to keep the property owner informed of what is going on. Ask the adjuster if you should invite the owner for the walk through. (Few adjusters will say no.) You should call them, if possible, not the adjuster.
2. Always give the property owner the “Illusion of Control“. Few people want to actually DO the work on the loss. That’s why you are there in the first place. BUT they want to “feel in control”. Maintain constant contact with the client. Ask their opinion and, more importantly, permission on even small things in the beginning of the loss. That way later on they will give you more freedom later on.
Remember at the end of the day both legally and ethically you work for the property owner. Of course, from a PRACTICAL standpoint you must make the adjuster happy. (Read my PS!)
Just a few ideas,
P.S. Of course, the challenge is to do all of the above and not tick off the adjuster. But then, that’s why you are making the “big money”, my friend! We offer more ideas on how to survive in the restoration arena on this website. The download is free.