This Web Exclusive comes from Bill Begal, 2007 Phoenix Award winner for innovation in restoration and president of Begal Enterprises, Inc. This collection of “best practices” is based on Begal’s experiences with past clients. So while it may seem like common sense, it could help businesses or individuals who have never faced such a massive loss.
Begal adds, “The purpose [of these tips] is to assist any friends, family members, or associates that may have flood damage and are not sure of what to do, where to turn, or even where to begin.”
• Get a notebook and keep track of any and all dates, times, and persons that you talk to in regards to your claim.
• Get a copy of your insurance policy. This will define and determine your limits as well as your rights and responsibilities to and from your insurance company.
• Speak/sit down with your adjuster.
• Define who is taking responsibility for your loss.
• What are your responsibilities and duties to comply as well as make a smooth and seamless process?
• Ask what is the process for listing and valuating your T/L (total loss) personal property. Do not throw ANYTHING away; everything has value.
• Follow up EVERY meeting and conversation with an e-mail to memorialize and capture what was discussed and might have been agreed to. This will eliminate confusion and misunderstandings later on.
• Define and get an explanation of what is necessary to be reimbursed for any lost rent or interruption of business.
• Ask your adjuster for a sufficient advance for purchases that are necessary. Include enough money to assist with your first month and security deposit for a temporary dwelling.
• Save ALL receipts for any and all meals, hotels, purchases, toiletries, vitamins, cosmetics etc.
• Wear personal protective equipment if you are entering a disaster zone: gloves, hard hat, approved respirator, Tyvek suit, etc.
• Refer to the EPA Web site to answer questions on mold and how to clean or disinfect properly.
• NEVER EVER open a refrigerator or freezer that has been off for more than a week to 10 days. The smell will knock you over.
• DO NOT TAKE ANY FOOD, PRESCRIPTIONS, or COSMETICS FROM THE BUILDING that have gotten wet or been exposed to an unusual amount of moisture or heat.
• ALWAYS remember that it is your decision, NOT the adjusters, as to which service provider can assist you.
• NO ONE can demand or force you to use a particular company at any time for any reason.
• Check references for any and all companies that you retain to perform work on your behalf.
Begal, who is based in Rockville, MD, regularly assists those who are dealing with the aftermath of a disaster, and acknowledges, “The recovery process can be overwhelming when all you have appears to be damaged or ruined.” His company is currently preparing to mobilize labor and equipment with in the next week, as national clients have requested assistance in different areas in Iowa and Missouri. He can be contacted directly toll-free at 888-BEGAL44.