We have all hired contractors to do work around our homes, some jobs big, some small. Did you ever think to ask them if they have insurance? Did you ever ask for proof of that insurance? It is second nature for contractors to provide proof of insurance for commercial work to general contractors or business owners, but for our personal homes most people never ask. So, what is the risk?
What if the contractor does damage to your home such as starts a fire? He is responsible but does he have insurance to pay for that damage? What if the contractor had an employee or day laborer to help him on the job and that person was injured. If the contractor does not have workers compensation coverage, that employee is looking to get reimbursed by someone, most likely from you as the property owner.
As a homeowner, you should always ask for proof of insurance coverage to protect you. The terminology to use to ask the contactor to provide you with a Certificate of Insurance, usually provided by his insurance agent or insurance company.
While utilizing a licensed, insured contractor usually cost more, you are properly protected. Keep in mind, if a contractor has no license, has no insurance and hires cheap unqualified help, what do you think the chances are that the job or work is going to be done to your total satisfaction? When something goes wrong, you are the one holding the bag.
How to maximize your recovery and ensure a smooth claim process:
- Take photos of the damage
- Protect your property from further damage – this may entail some temporary repairs
- Do not allow the disposal of any damaged property until the claim is settled
- You, the insured, control who can do temp repairs or mitigate cleaning. You have the right to approve anyone who works on your property
- Can you still occupy the premises? If not make arrangements for temporary accommodations
- List and inventory the damaged items – remember it is your responsibility to prove your claim
- Identify items damaged by Make or Model # if available – if possible use an Excel spreadsheet
- Pricing of the items can be found on the internet – remember we want the current replacement cost value of the item
- Remember you are paid on the replacement cost value only if you replace the item, otherwise you only receive the depreciated actual cash value
- Document every phone call, email or contact with the insurance company and adjuster
- Do not sign any documents that state it is final payment of the claim
- Consider hiring a public adjuster if the claim is too large or complicated. The public adjuster represents your interests
- You have the right to request a new adjuster or any expert the insurance carrier sends out if you are not comfortable with the level of expertise
- Always be in attendance when the adjuster visits
- Always get permissions granted by the insurance adjuster in writing
- Request a copy of the adjuster’s report to the insurance company
- Always insist on the level of quality and tradesmen who built the house or certain parts of it. You are not required to accept lesser quality.
- If you feel you are getting the runaround, seek out the department of insurance and or local attorney who specializes in property insurance claims
Was your company ever issued a subpoena to produce records regarding a lawsuit? In the past it usually meant having only a bunch of documents photocopied. Not today, they also want all your emails. They used to say loose lips sink ships. Now they are loose emails. Here are some emailing tips for business:
- There are times when a phone call is the best method to communicate. You can judge those that are better typing about and having a record and others that deserve a call.
- Emails to your lawyer are always privileged and should be marked as such. This is best done in the subject line.
- A written email policy for your employees. The dos and don’ts on how you are the owner demand email be used.
- Did you know that there is keyword tracking software that an attorney will use to check emails sent? Therefore do not use terms which are demeaning to others or insult others.
- Emails can also be used to help defend you in a claim. Therefore archiving emails is important. In the past paper records may have been kept for 3-7 years or longer. Emails and their attachments should be archived too.
- Keep in mind also deleted does not always mean deleted when it comes to emails. Email servers store everything.
Emails and risk management is a topic that should not be taken lightly. Meet with your IT staff and attorney to set the best course of action for your company.