2021 has been one of the most active hurricane seasons on record. If your home has been severely damaged or even completely destroyed by water and wind effects, you may be wondering what your options for rebuilding are.
It’s important to know what to do immediately after a hurricane occurs, like safely gathering evidence of your home’s destruction and contacting your insurance provider in a timely manner. But how should you prepare for the actual rebuilding of your home? How do you go about making sure the repairs you need are not only financially covered, but done well? It may take some diligent action on your part to get the service you need for you and your family.
Your Options for Rebuilding After a Hurricane
If you’ve gathered evidence of damage, sent it to your insurance provider, opened a claim, and have been approved to move forward with making repairs to your home, the next step is choosing how you will make those repairs.
Your insurance provider likely sent their own field adjuster to your home to deduce and confirm exactly what kinds of repairs you need. After that, they might have requested you use one of their “preferred” contractors to get the job done. They may have even insisted that doing so will be the fastest way to restore your home to its original state. Keep in mind, however, that while their assurance of speediness may be true, they’re also likely attempting to better control costs by dissuading you from hiring your own contractor. Many insurance companies have some type of agreement in place with these preferred contractors for reduced rates and increased volume of work.
Now, there may be nothing wrong with using one of your insurance company’s recommended contractors—it’s entirely possible that they will do the quality work your home needs, and it could be done in a timely manner. But before deciding to bow completely to your insurance company’s wishes, it’s important to thoroughly research their preferred contractor, just as you would any other person or service you’d hire for such a monumental undertaking. If they don’t measure up to other contractors, consider hiring the way you want.
Many homeowners think they’re obligated to use the insurance contractor recommended to them, but ultimately, it’s entirely up to you to choose who you want to handle your repair work. If you do end up deciding to go with a third-party contractor, it’s vitally important to do your homework before making any decisions.
Choosing the Right Contractor to Rebuild After a Hurricane
When a hurricane rips through a community, it’s like a beacon calling to contractors across the state—and sometimes outside the state. Contractors know hurricane damage means an increase in work, and many of them aim to take advantage of this. While there very well could be plenty of reputable contractors from outside your community, it’s important to make sure you weed out the unreliable ones.
On their website, The National Storm Damage Center has a handy checklist of questions you should ask the contractors you interview. The minimum criteria they recommend is to make sure the company is:
- Fully established and has a mostly positive track record
- Fully insurance with liability and workers’ comp
- Has both insurance claims experience and hurricane rebuilding experience
- Can successfully pass a background check
- Can provide at least three local, positive references
The Whisler Law Firm likes to recommend getting even more in depth with your questions for contractors by asking them:
- How long has your company been in business?
- What’s your experience working specifically with insurance claims?
- Do you have your own crew, or do you outsource your work?
- Who will be assigned as my onsite project manager?
- Does your company specialize in or have extensive experience with storm repair?
- Can you provide references for insurance claims work done within the last twelve months?
- What permits will be required for this project?
- What can I expect from you and your team?
After the contractor has hopefully answered these questions for you thoroughly, it’s time to ask yourself some questions and take their answers into careful consideration. Does the information they provided check out? How do you feel about hiring this person? Do they seem trustworthy? Or did something about them give you pause?
Several warning signs to be wary of when it comes to reviewing contractors are:
- No local office
- Out-of-state license plates
- No insurance or under-insured
- Won’t provide local references
- Demands upfront cash payment or deposit
- Poor Better Business Bureau ratings
The Whisler Law Firm’s free Hurricane Preparedness eBook has even more in-depth details to consider when it comes to choosing the right contractor to restore your home.
Options Beyond Rebuilding After a Hurricane
While the effects of severe wind can rip siding and roofing from a home, or send debris flying through windows, much of this damage is entirely repairable. The real headache in having to repair your home can come from the severe flooding that often occurs during a hurricane.
Flood damage is certainly repairable to a large extent, but sometimes, it may be too difficult or too costly to address it in full. This is especially true if the flooding has led to widespread mold, rot out of the foundation, or other dangerous deterioration. In these cases, depending upon what kind of water damage and other policies you have, it may be wise to move on and find a new home rather than take on the massive expenses necessary to rebuild.
That’s right—depending on your insurance policies, you may not even need to choose to rebuild your home after a hurricane. If the damage is too severe, you may have the option to take your insurance money and use it to establish new housing for you and your family. And as you carefully read through your policies to see if this is an option, keep in mind that if the damage to your home is extensive enough, you may actually be unable to obtain insurance if you rebuild on the same spot.
Before you even start looking for contractors or considering what you want to do with your damaged home, it’s important to make sure you have a clear understanding of the adjusting process, what your coverage plan provides, and what the proper procedures are for starting the work and getting reimbursed. We have an array of useful hurricane resources on our website to explore that can give you a better idea of what to expect before, during, and after a hurricane.
If you run into coverage issues with your insurance provider, The Whisler Law Firm may be able to help you get the repairs and reimbursements you deserve. Schedule an entirely free initial consultation with our team, and we’ll go through your home insurance policies to help you better understand your coverage and what your options are. Call us at 833-529-5677 or fill out our online form to schedule your consultation with an expert on our team.