The ferocious winds and flying limbs have subsided, so you take a deep breath and walk outside of your house to check for any damages. You might be one of the lucky ones to sigh in relief that everything checks out, and your house is in the same shape it was before the storm. On the other hand, you might be the homeowner staring at damages that simply cannot be ignored. So , you investigate and try to decide whether or not to involve your home insurance company to fix the repairs.
If you do choose to use your insurance company, take note that you do not have to use the contractor they recommend. After several of the past storms, it was actually quite shocking how many homeowners didn't know this. It is up to you whom you choose to do the repairs and we recommend getting a few different estimates to compare not just the price, but what is covered and included in the contract. Not all agreements are created equal.
There are some perks to using a "preferred contractor". Policyholders may quality for special discounts or extended warranties. Most likely the insurance company has vetted the contractor for quality and reliability, and upholds a certain amount of accountability over them to perform. After all, you would think that the contractor will want to make you happy to keep being recommended. Another benefit can be that the contractor can handle an entire scope of work from restoration to cleaning, if that's what is needed.
On the flip side, insurance companies pay only the current competitive rate as determined by the insurance companies. This alone creates the string of other "cost saving" exchanges. Cost saving for the insurer, not the insured. A preferred contractor might be more apt to go with the insurer's scope of work, instead of the entire scope of repairs necessary, to remain in favor of receiving additional work. With that, you could be left with unfinished repairs that could become a bigger and more costly problem in the future.
National Storm Damage Center states on their website, "Approved contractors typically agree to cost cutting measures designed to save them money, often at your expense. This reduces the amount of money your insurance company has to pay out on your claim, but can also mean lower quality for you."
Just because the company is on the preferred list, doesn't always mean they're reputable. Sad, but true. In either case, whether you choose to go with a company your insurance recommends, or find your own contractor, it is still a good idea to do your own research before you sign on the dotted line. Here are some basic items to inquire about:
By ALL means, ask questions about what you don't understand BEFORE you sign the agreement. You will be happy you did, should anything regarding that repair come up at a later time.