In what seems like a never ending story (try the music), we’re still dealing with the open property claim you might have read about in this classic, Personal Claim Story – Part 1. You may have guessed it already, but that’s Part 2.
I’ll be honest, it wasn’t nearly as bad as you might think since we’ve been working on things since the end of February. It seems like it’s taking a long time. When we last reported, we called two different insurance companies, and claims were reported, opened, and office adjusters set. So far, the loss of use claim has been pretty nice, so I won’t dive too deeply into that. Suffice it to say that the additional living expenses so far are adequately paid.
The other insurance company that deals with damage to the home assigned a field officer, who went out, took pictures, asked a few questions, took some measurements, and reported to the home office. This is where we were.
Building loss is dealt with in three stages (because I don’t have a better way to think of it), the initial water treatment claim, the asbestos treatment claim, and then putting everything back together. So, what has happened so far?
If you don’t remember what happened, let me remind you (because I definitely remember). There was water in the bathtub, someone took out the water and at the same time flushed the toilet. All that water didn’t go into the septic tank, as it’s supposed to. It came from under the toilet.
That amount of water needed somewhere to go, so I drifted under the sink and out of the shower, under the vinyl floors in the hall. Then she migrated from under the same floor to the living room. Now that you remember the problem, let me walk you through the prompts so far.
The first thing that had to happen was that someone needed to clean the water. Now if there just isn’t much water and he goes wherever he wants (like practically under my new floor) then that wouldn’t be a problem. We could have cleaned if it was just clean toilet water, but let’s face it, it wasn’t just clean water.
So, we called the water cleaning officials. They went out and did what they do. They begin to determine where the water goes. This was cool because they had moisture detectors that told them where to find some water. This is how they ended up not eating the floors in any of the bedrooms. They discovered that the water did not go there.
That’s when they started eating up the floors and with each plank of vinyl they soaked up, they found more water. This is how the entire hall and living room ended up without any flooring. Then they noticed another layer of tiles and started scraping at it. And that’s when we shared a little more because we suspected the base tile was made of asbestos. No one knew for sure, so they stopped scraping it and sent some samples to the lab.
More on this in another post.
The next thing they did was cut the drywall down to 24 inches high. I know what you’re thinking, the water didn’t rise that high. yes. I thought so too. They tell me that their standard protocol is to lower this altitude whenever there is an internal flood situation (their words, not mine. Remember I’m glad I call it a non-weather water claim). Add to that what kind of water it was (the poor kind), and they cut that height.
Once the floors were finished, the clear water was taken care of, the walls opened up, and they brought in dehumidifiers and an air purifier. Dehumidifiers are not like the ones you might have in your home basement, or your grandmother’s basement. You know those big things that sit in the corner and every once in a while you have to empty them, they have a funky smell of dehumidifier. Not those. Think giant hot air machines that blow across the floor and make a proper racket.
This was the crux of the water treatment claim. There was some negotiation and conversation between the company and the insurance company, but that’s not important at the moment. Here’s what we should focus on, why didn’t we wait for the insurance company to say it’s ok and tell us who to contact? Because I knew we had a covered reason to lose, and whether we did it or not, someone needed to get that water.
How did you know we had a covered loss? Because I read this sentence.
We will pay for direct physical loss or damage to covered property caused by or resulting from water flowing back up or overflowing from a sewer, drain or sink.
You already know there’s more to it than that, but that’s the sentence that provided coverage for direct physical loss or damage to covered property. This allows us to get someone to clean that water, cut holes in the walls, and remove the floors. It’s all covered property. Since it is covered, these costs will be covered and all that remains is to know what is being paid to the contractor who did the work.
Did the insurance company want a chance to discuss cleaning costs first? likely. Was it important to people who needed disgusting water to clean and get them out of their homes? No, the most important thing was cleaning the water. Did the insurance company and contractor negotiate the cost of this? Yes, they did, and I signed a paper allowing them to discuss it.
From the insured’s point of view, if there is a disagreement between the contractor and the insurance company about the cost, let them argue about it and stay out of the argument. There have been a few times when I’ve wanted to put my cents in them, but I’ve realized that they don’t need my input. They needed to work out these details.
The flip side of this coin is that the insured must maintain control of the money. I’m not a fan of customizing benefits. This gives the contractor a great deal of control. Let them talk to the insurance company. Don’t let them demand money from them directly. Keep control of the money so you can make sure you don’t get stunned by a contractor suing your insurance company on your behalf and then next year your insurance company isn’t rolling because of the claims history.
What’s Next? Asbestos problem But that’s a problem for another post.