Willy or won’t he?
Last year I passed my Claims Practitioner qualification with the BDMA (British Damage Management Association) which gave me an industry recognised qualification in damage restoration. Or the ability to better assess Fire and Flood damaged properties.
When you have a flood or a fire, after you’ve phoned the fire brigade/dad/husband/wife/significant other you will call your insurance company. They will assign your claim to a loss adjuster who will come to your home and assess (the clue is in their title), most loss adjusters are very experienced and highly trained themselves, they will assess the damage against your policy wording and decide if you have a claim. If you do, they will then instruct a restoration company to come in, take away any contents which have been damaged but are salvageable, dispose of anything which is beyond economic repair (BER) and clean the area affected. From that point they will manage the repairs with an approved contractor, or, if your losses are considerable, the loss adjuster will instruct a surveyor – like me.
Ordinarily by the time I get involved, your claim could be 4-6 weeks old, and therefore I am looking at reinstatement. You see, with a fire, there are elements of your building and your contents which need to be assessed and restored within a 24-48 hour window, beyond that and the acid within the smoke has started to damage the material. This is particularly relevant to electrical goods, uPVC windows and metal objects such as your bath taps.
With flood, early assessment of the damage and emergency reinstatement can prevent what is known as secondary damage. What typically happens in a flood or escape from water situation is that your loss adjuster will call in a restoration company. Not all restoration companies are created equally. Whilst they all have their BMDA qualifications, there are a lot of franchises and the quality is not consistent throughout the industry. I have been to sites where a massive escape of water from a loft has dumped gallons of water into the bedroom below and the kitchen below that. Four weeks in and when I arrived to assess reinstatement, the bedroom carpet and curtains were still in place, as was all the soft furnishings. There was one dehumidifier on site and an air mover blowing warm air over one of the walls affected. I was horrified! what should happen is that all of the wet soft materials were removed from site, as it now happened, four weeks of dehumidfier drying had managed to dry out all the soft furnishings, but what about the construction elements? what about the beautiful wooden flooring in the kitchen below?
In the insurance industry, the cost of water claims has steadily risen year on year. This is where my latest set of skills has come in. I have recently been trained in stabilisation techniques. Working with our partners Oriel, Sergon provide a fully qualified surveyor at the end of the phone to the fully qualified restoration specialist. The insurance company will agree to spend a small amount of money before liability is accepted in order to limit the secondary damage that the water escape may cause. We have a couple of very forward thinking insurance companies already take up this offering and they have started to see a 15% saving on their claims as a result. If you can get us in early, we can make a massive difference to how much reinstatement is required.
Part of this new training is utilising a new piece of software online. This software allows me to sit at my desk and talk with the operative on site whilst he uses his phone to show me the extent of the damage. We can take readings together and interpret the results and decide within the parameters of the £1000 allocated how it is best spent to minimise further degradation of the building.
Yesterday I logged onto the software to test that it worked. I handed Es my phone and asked him to walk around our house and talk to me. He wandered downstairs talking me through what he saw, showed me the book shelves, the cat, an amusing commentary and his usual prankster self. The next thing I see is his…ahem….’manhood’ filling my screen and ridiculous giggles. I sat at my laptop shaking my head and smirking, I very calmly told him that every session is recorded to a database on line. Cue phone switch off and running up the stairs. A red faced husband stood in my office door “you’re kidding!!” he exclaimed, “nope” I had to reply. He was horrified, not as much as I was, my Director is going to check every recording we do for the first month to ensure we are providing a consistent service.
Esra swore he was never going to be silly again. Like that’s ever going to happen.
As it happens I was able to delete the recording. I asked my director casually where it went, he said that there is a huge warehouse which stores all the recordings, however unless we know the exact date and time they are a bit of a nightmare to access which is why we need to be accurate in our call data. Phew! but I shan’t be telling Es anytime soon.