It is not if a disaster will take place, but when it will. It is a given fact of life that there will be floods, tornados, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and yes even the fuzzy area surrounding the issue of mold, lead, ash, smoke and other hazardous containments.
Unfortunately, it seems that those companies, which were produced by these unfortunate situations, have become categorized as ‘ambulance chasers’ or opportunists. Placing all disaster response companies and insurance companies in this category would be a shame, for there are some very good companies that both industries encompass. However it
would be an injustice to ignore the fact that there is a definite separation between good and bad companies in each category.
When it comes to the services offered Disaster Response Companies and Insurance Companies are really not that different, and yet the disaster response industry has been classified as ‘storm chasers’. Granted, just like in any type of industry there are unscrupulous practices that can be found in the disaster response industry. Unfortunately price gouging, padded invoices and lack of certification for work performed does take place. So how do you separate the bad apples form the good?
In order to ensure you never deal with the bad apples there are two main areas that need to be looked at when in discussion of ‘storm chasers’:
I. Opportunity and the proper and improper approach to the opportunity.
II. Standards and Certifications and the lack thereof.
I. Opportunity and the proper and improper approach to the opportunity
Sadly there are those in the disaster response industry who do take advantage of a bad situation for company gain, and this has been happening for some time.Thankfully though you can easily distinguish between the good companies and the bad ones. The following four factors will help you to separate a true disaster response company
from the bad ones, which I call a ‘reactionary incident driven company’:
i. A Disaster Response Company seeks to take care of the client. They are companies which seek to know the client, their facility, how they do business and who they are responsible BEFORE the unfortunate takes place. Just as a good Doctor does blood work, evaluates blood pressure, weight and family history in order to take the best care of
their patient, a professional disaster response company will seek to gather information in order to take care of that client. Reactionary incident driven companies or ‘storm chasers’ do not know disaster planning and nor do they care. These companies look at it in the way that the bigger the disaster the more money they can make. They do not look at retaining a long-term client. Their relationship ends at the bill.
ii. A true Disaster Response Company works within the disaster plan of the client. They offer training to the client and those they are responsible for, in order to prepare them for what to expect in case of an unfortunate situation. A reactionary company will not seek to
educate the client as to the ‘science of drying’; proper legal documentation and ways a client can prepare themselves and their staff to quickly jump on a bad situation, therefore limiting the scope of the loss.
iii. A true Disaster Response company has personal that are certified and are specialists within the areas of concern. The reactionary incident driven company will wait until they have a confirmed job before they hire manpower, usually at the last minute slapping some company tee shirts on them and leading a client to believe that they are professionals with the credentials to take care of their situation properly.
iv. A true Disaster Response Company understands and utilizes the proper equipment and knows the actual ‘science of drying processes. In many cases a disaster reactionary incident driven company will jam as much equipment as they can into a situation in order to gain a greater profit. There are many different tools out there which all have a place in different situations. This is where the storm chaser does not concern themselves with educating a client. The more the client does not know, the more wiggle room there is for the company to make extra money. Ozone, desiccants, air movers, air scrubbers, injecti-dry, ultra violet and high heat dryers are just a few items that are misused by companies. The client may think that these pieces of equipment are helping them, when in fact it could be hurting and costing them more in unnecessary costs.
II. Industry Standards and Certifications
A storm chaser most likely will not have the certifications that are there for specialists. The IICRC, which is the governing body for this Disaster Response Industry, has set up strong courses and certifications in order to keep the standards of care to the client high. I have heard so many times by storm chasers that they are certified in water damage, mold remediation, when in fact there is no certification that they possess. A true Disaster Response Company will have the necessary certifications within the areas of service they are providing. Again, a true disaster response company will layout the certifications to the client before something takes place, and will also seek to teach the client about some of the practices required to gain the certifications.
It may sound like a daunting task, not only are you dealing with damage from the natural disaster, while having to fight with your insurance company, but now you also have to look out for those unscrupulous disaster recovery agencies that are trying to get your
business. In order to make the process a little smoother Steve Slepcevic has a couple pieces of advice. “When it comes to natural disasters,” says Slepcevic, “one of the main things if property owners are dealing with a smoke and or a water loss they should hire
certified industrial hygienists that specializes in that type of testing”. You want to make sure that the hygienist you hire writes out a protocol that the contractor will follow, “but make sure you review the remediation contractors policy,” says Slepcevic “to insure they
have pollution coverage and not an exclusion because if for any reason the containment barrier is compromised and particulate is cross contaminated throughout the building it could cost the property owner a lot of money to clean up the mess”.
The next thing you should do is always get a second opinion on your claim. “Make sure it is from someone that is not an insurance preferred contractor or someone that is not in the insurance repair business,” says Slepcevic, “as most contractors that specialize in the
business are on the preferred list and bought by the insurance companies. What I mean by that is they get a volume of work from the carrier's and you are one claim, their loyalties lie with the insurance carrier that gives them steady work and they will not compromise that”.
Slepcevic says his final piece of advice if all else fails is to contact a lawyer, “We recommend one of the large law firms such as Myers, Widders, Gibson, Jones and Snyder, Girardi and Keese, Kabateck Brown Kellner, Stone Rosenblatt & Cha, Thornhill Law Partners, Steven Zelig or others that take bad faith actions on for the consumer”.
Since 1989, Steve Slepcevic has been assisting property and business owners nationwide in restoring and reconstructing after a specific or wide-area disaster.
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Paramount Disaster Recovery is located in the county of Los Angeles. It is associated with following industry(s): Single-family Housing Construction - Repairing Fire Damage, Single-family Houses, Industrial Buildings And Warehouses - Industrial Buildings And Warehouses, Business Services - Estimating Service, Construction. Products and Services associated with Paramount Disaster Recovery include Fire.