The “Everything Building Envelope” podcast recently treated listeners to a riveting discussion between host Derek Segal, a senior member of GCI Consultants, and Ken Larsen, a third-party evaluator with the International Dry Standard Organization (IDSO). Ken is a prominent member of the restoration industry, involved as an educator and advisor for certification standards, as well as serving as an expert consultant for court cases and insurance claims. In his conversation with Derek, Ken shared candid observations about professional restoration services and the insurance industry. He also had a few tips about navigating through the rocky terrain, when a building needs significant repairs.
Ken spoke with Derek from the Panhandle of Florida, shortly after Hurricane Michael stormed through.
First Things First
The first step for filing an insurance claim is finding out if the damage is covered. Ken recommends making inquiries to the insurance provider, describing the situation in a hypothetical manner. The objective is to obtain a straightforward answer without opening a file. Armed with the information, a decision can be made about whether to pursue the claim.
Once the decision to move forward has been made, policy holders must proceed carefully through a thicket of advice and claims of expertise to determine that the right work is being executed, in the right way – and that’s no easy task.
“Right to Repair” Clause
Once the claim has been filed, a contractor has to be found for the work. In Florida, insurance policies may include a “right to repair” clause, that allows the insurer control over who performs the work.
When the insurance company is recommending a preferred contractor, the policyholder needs to ask another key question, that is, whether that contractor has an agreement with the insurance company. A preferred vendor may be committed to terms set by the insurance company, such as limits to the scope of work or price. That presents a potential conflict of interest for the contractor. How can the claimant be sure the right job is being done in the right way?
Standard of Care
The damage inflicted on structures as a result of storm events or other threats to the integrity of the building envelope aren’t a matter of “clean-up on aisle three”, says Ken. Restoration tasks require advanced skills and knowledge about the building system; it’s not simply a case of finding the right tool or piece of equipment.
A standard of care, the ANSI/IIRCRC standard 500, or S500, has been in place for water restoration activities for decades, with the most current version developed in 2015. Ken notes, though, that claims that a product or service is in compliance with the S500 may or may not be true.
Positive Trends for Policyholders
Though Ken is concerned about substandard work and misleading claims from contractors, he also observes a trend among policy holders towards consulting with qualified experts to determine what is needed to successfully resolve issues with the structure. Along with a willingness to call on an attorney or public adjuster for representation when dealing with insurance companies, there is hope for a less adversarial relationship in the future between insurance companies and claimants.
Listen to the full discussion between Ken and Derek at the “Everything Building Envelope” podcast, for the real story behind “fog for mold” services, when a perfectly clean air sample is a red flag, and why policyholders should be wary of equipment formulas for drying a building.
Subscribe to the podcast while you’re there, for more lively discussions about the latest information and technology related to the building envelope. Ken Larsen welcomes inquiries and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (817) 542-1189.