Hurricane Isaac left much of Louisiana a sopping wet mess. As businesses and homeowners return to their properties to find flooded basements and storage rooms, all they want is to clean up as fast as possible.
Recovering from a massive tropical storm is a time- and labor-intensive process. Removing water, finding lost belongings and repairing damaged structures are the most obvious tasks, but that’s just the beginning.
Getting professional help is the best way for homeowners to get back on their feet, but when all of your neighbors need the same help, finding resources is difficult. In these times of need, armies of professionals descend to lend a helping hand. Unfortunately, some are less honest than others. Getting the help you need from honest professionals and in a timely manner is often more difficult than the actual cleanup. But by following a few simple guidelines, you can help avoid the scammers and get the job done right. To find out more, we sat down for a short Q & A with Bill Begal, owner of Begal Enterprises, one of the most respected names in the country for repair and restoration services. Here’s what he had to say.
Many experts recommend avoiding companies that aren’t local. You’re based in Washington D.C., but people all over the country trust you to perform services. How can homeowners trust out of town professionals?
Look online for positive references from customers where the company is based. If they have good reviews, then they’re probably trustworthy. If a professional is trusted in their own community, you can generally trust them when they hit the road as well. A reputation is a reputation, regardless of where you are. You should also check to make sure they are licensed and insured, including coverage of workmen’s compensation.
How can you check to make sure a business has the proper insurance?
Ask to see their certificate of insurance. It should be signed and current. Check to see if the dates are valid and make sure it is not expired. You should also pay attention to their liability limits. A fairly common amount is $1,000,000 of coverage. The certificate should also specify that they have workmen’s compensation, which is particularly necessary when working in dangerous or hazardous storm repair environments.
Speaking of insurance, many experts recommend working closely with your insurance agent to determine which company to choose, while others advocate for third party property loss consultants. Which is better?
No insurance company wants to spend any more money than they absolutely have to. That’s not to say that agents and adjustors are biased, but that you should make sure to get several estimates and make sure that both adjustors and bidding companies are offering you unbiased information. That’s true for adjustors and consultants alike.
Comparing multiple companies takes time–a luxury many disaster-stricken homeowners don’t have. How can you balance patient comparing with getting help quickly?
Many adjustors will want 2-3 bids for a job, but in terms of disasters such practices can be tedious. You can expedite the process by doing your own research on potential companies. Search for them on the internet, look at reviews, look at pictures, and look at comments and testimonials. Look at their social media pages and don’t be won over by a page of only positive feedback. All companies make mistakes and have the potential for bad comments. The good companies are the ones that own up to it and make an example of fixing that problem.
Choosing a home repair professional after a disaster requires the same patience, thorough research and careful selection needed for hiring a repair service in non-emergencies. Take what time you can to make the most educated decision possible and you’ll likely get good results. It might take longer, but in the end, you will be happier for it.