About 30 years ago, the Marty King of the Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration (ASCR – now known as the Restoration Industry Association; RIA) published a document, warmly received by restoration contractors around America. This document called “The Insurance Damage Repair Bill of Rights” was published in response to Policyholders who were confused by the insurance claim process. Further, contractors themselves were frequently unfamiliar with what a claimant can and should do on their claim.
Today, it seems fitting that this document is considered once more. It seems that many believe they are subject to the demands of the insurer in an insurance claim when in fact, the Policyholder not only has “rights” but also obligations in how the insurance claim is initiated and settled.
For the record – this “Bill of Rights” is not to be confused with an official / Federal “Bill of Rights.” It is an informational post to be used for education purposes only.
Insurance Damage Repair Bill of Rights
Fire and Water Damage disrupts the normal pattern of life, and can involve a lot of emotional stress. People often feel confused and vulnerable after events of this type. However, it is important to make good decisions, because you will be living with the results long after the stress and confusion have passed.
As Professional Restoration Contractors we believe that the public interest is best served if people have an understanding of their rights and the alternatives available to them, when insurance damage and repair work are involved.
Your insurance policy is a CONTRACT between you and the insurance company. It entitles you to certain rights and imposes certain obligations. As Certified Professional Restoration Contractors, we have prepared this BILL OF RIGHTS so that you may better understand the policy you have purchased, and how it relates to the repairs you may undertake. The standard Homeowners policy generally contains the same provisions throughout the United States and Canada. Here are some of your rights and obligations under its terms:
- YOU MAY TAKE, AND BE FULLY COMPENSATED FOR THE COST OF EMERGENCY STEPS TO SAFEGUARD YOUR PROPERTY FROM FURTHER DAMAGE AFTER A LOSS. …In fact, you have the obligation to do so under the terms of your policy. The insurance company may not be liable for additional expense if you fail to provide such protection.
- IF YOU HAVE SECURED ADEQUATE COVERAGE, YOU ARE ENTITLED TO BE PAID FOR THE FAIR COST OF FULLY RESTORING YOUR HOME TO ITS PRE – DAMAGE CONDITION. …However, you are not insured for the repair of unrelated problems, code deficiencies (unless named within the policy), or prior damage.
- YOU ARE ENTITLED TO EMPLOY AND SHOULD INSIST UPON A FULLY LICENSED AND INSURED REPAIR FIRM OF GOOD REPUTATION. …However, if you do not choose to employ such a firm, the consequences and liability for any injury, damage, or other action may rest with you.
- YOU ARE ENTITLED TO EMPLOY A FIRM WITH SUFFICIENT EXPERIENCE AND STABILITY IN THE COMMUNITY TO STAND BEHIND ITS WORK AND WARRANTY RESPONSIBILITIES. …The repair contract and its performance are strict between you and the repair contractor. Your insurance company does not warrant or guarantee the performance of any firm you hire.
- YOU ARE ENTITLED TO MATERIALS AND WORKMANSHIP FULLY EQUIVALENT TO YOUR EXISTING INSTALLATION IN LIKE KIND AND QUALITY. …The insurance company has no obligation to improve your existing installation.
- YOU ARE NOT REQUERED TO ACCEPT THE LOWEST BIDDER. NOWHERE IN YOUR POLICY DO THE WORDS “CHEAPEST”, “LOW “ OR “LOWEST PRICE” OCCUR. …However, repair rates should correspond to prevailing standards in your area for work of good quality.
- YOU ARE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE A DETAILED LISTING OF THE SCOPE OF REPAIRS AND QUANTITIES OF MATERIALS TO BE PROVIDED, BEFORE WORK BEGINS. …Also provision for hidden or latent problems relating to the damage should be spelled out in as much detail as possible.
- YOU ARE ENTITLED TO AND SHOULD REJECT ANY CONTRACT THAT DOES NOT INCORPORATE ALL FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL REQUIREMENTS FOR RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION WORK. …However, you must be familiar with these requirements in order to enjoy the protection the law provides. Ask an Industry Certified Restoration Contractor for this important information.
- YOU ARE ENTITLED TO SELECT A FIRM WHO CAN DEMONSTRATE SKILL AND EXPERIENCE IN INSURANCE DAMAGE REPAIR AS A FULL TIME PROFESSIONAL SERVICE. …Ask for references, credentials, and association membership that indicate professional training and status in insurance repair, as contrasted with ordinary home improvement work.
- IF SUBSTANTIAL DISAGREEMENT ARISES BETWEEN YOU AND THE INSURANCE COMPANY OVER THE AMOUNT OF THE LOSS YOU ARE ENTITLED TO REQUEST, ARBITRATION (“APPRAISAL”) AS DESCRIBED UNDER THE TERMS OF THE POLICY. LINES 123-140 OF THE STANDARD HOMEOWNERS FORM SPELL OUT THESE PROCEDURES FOR SETTLING DIFFERENCES WITHOUT RESORTING TO LAWSUIT. …The restoration company also is entitled to this provision, which may be invoked at any time prior to settlement, whether or not you have received advanced payments.
- YOU ARE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE PAYMENT FROM THE INSURANCE COMPANY WITHIN THE TIME SPECIFIED BY THE POLICY AND YOUR STATE INSURANCE REGULATIONS, WHICH ARE DESIGNED TO PREVENT INSURANCE COMPANIES FROM USING DELAY AND PERSONAL HARD SHIP TO COMPEL A LOWER SETTLEMENT. …However, the policy also has time requirement for the policy holder, within which you must prepare and submit your claim. Ask your adjuster or agent about these at the outset, so that you can be in compliance.
- SINCE YOU ARE THE POLICY HOLDER ONLY YOU CAN DEMAND THAT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY LIVE UP TO ITS OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE POLICY. … As Professional Restoration Contractors, we recommend that you do so out of a strong conviction that fair dealing, good workmanship and ethical business practices benefit the insurance industry just as they benefit the public at large.
NOTE: This “Bill of Rights” has been distributed to Certified Cleaning and Restoration Professionals for educational purposes only. The use of the information contained herein should be done at the best professional judgement of the restoration contractor. This “Bill of Rights” has no intended objective other than to inform any interested parties as to their rights and / or obligations when involved in an insurance repair claim.