When disaster strikes your home, such as a sewage backup in your basement, or a fire in your kitchen, things tend to get complicated very quickly. It’s easy to get lost in the maze of insurance processes, documentation, and people who get involved in your claim. Not only that, but your project will often be split up into multiple parts, meaning one contractor could tell you your project is complete, while you’re still standing in a half torn apart kitchen!
An insurance claim is typically made up of one, two, or three phases, known as Mitigation, Reconstruction, and Contents. These simply describe the services included during these phases, and we’ll go into a brief breakdown of each below.
The mitigation phase is essentially the part of the project where a company takes steps to prevent ADDITIONAL damage to your home. If your windows are broken, this could include a board up to prevent unauthorized entry. If your basement is flooded, it would include extracting the water and removing any overly affected materials like flooring or drywall to prevent rot, odors, and microbial growth.
During the mitigation phase, your home or business will often go through one or more of the following:
While this is a wide variety of services, the thing they all have in common is that they stop or prevent secondary damage (or other issues which would cost additional money to restore) to a property after the initial incident. Imagine a car smashed through an exterior wall. You’d need temporary structural support until the wall was repaired, so that once the car is removed, the wall and everything above it doesn’t come crashing down.
Now, once these things are done, mitigation is considered complete. This can be confusing because if you were standing in a “mitigated” kitchen that is being called “complete”, that kitchen could very well still be missing all of it’s appliances, cabinetry, flooring, and even some of the drywall or tile.
That’s because mitigation does NOT include any Reconstruction services. In fact, there are many mitigation-only companies that don’t offer any reconstruction services at all, as it requires an entirely different set of tools, tradespeople, and project management expertise. It also happens to take much longer due to coordination, approvals, and other issues, but we could write an entire series of articles on that.
The reconstruction phase is where everything gets put back together again. Imagine Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall. After Mitigation was complete, and all the pieces were picked up, sorted, cleaned, labeled, deodorized, and decontaminated, the reconstruction phase would involve the planning, scheduling, and coordination of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.
First, your project manager (or estimator) will put together a complete “Scope of Work”, detailing everything that needs to be done to put your home or business back together. This could include new appliances, flooring installation, replacement of cabinetry, drywall repairs, painting, exterior services, and much more. This scope of work will be broken down into an itemized list, then sent to your insurance adjuster for review.
Once your project manager and insurance adjuster finalize the scope of work (please be aware, this can take weeks or even months on large projects), you’ll like start picking out materials, colors, styles, and making all the fun decisions that go into rebuilding your home. After all the approvals are in and materials have been selected, your project manager will start putting together a construction schedule, and putting the pieces in place for the different people who will be doing various types of work at your home or business, on what days and in what order.
Finally, your reconstruction on your property will begin. And then it will finish. Many people are amazed at how quickly it can be completed considering how long all the paperwork/documentation/approvals/etc can take. It’s unfortunate, but a lot of T’s need to be crossed and I’s need to be dotted before anyone can start swinging a hammer on the reconstruction side. When it’s done though, your home or business should look just as nice as it did before your property damage occurred, often much better because many things are new and fresh.
The third phase of the restoration process isn’t necessarily the LAST phase, because it actually takes place throughout the entire process. Contents includes all of your furniture and belongings, essentially everything that is in your home or business that isn’t physically attached to the floor, walls, or ceiling.
The Contents phase itself consists of several parts, including:
The Pack Out is when your contents are inventoried, documented, and packed up into boxes to be transported to a contents cleaning/storage facility. Imagine your basement fills up with several inches of water. Any of your contents that were on the floor would need to be cleaned (or potentially disposed of). They’d also need to be moved out of your basement so that other affected areas (floors, walls, etc.) could be addressed.
Typically, three copies of the inventory are created during the “Pack Out”. One copy is prepared for the restoration company, one for the insurance company, and one for you. Make sure to keep this in a safe place, as you’ll need it later. You may also work with your restoration company to prepare a “Total Loss” list of items determined to be non-salvageable.
Contents are sometimes “Packed Out” on-site, but are usually taken to a secure, climate controlled storage facility to be cleaned, then stored until the project is complete. Most restoration companies will expedite the cleaning of clothes, business materials, and other important or necessary items to get them back to you asap.
The “Pack Back” is simply when the restoration company brings the clean contents back to your home or business once the work is complete. You should take this opportunity to review all the contents, and check them against the inventory list you were provided during the “Pack Out”.
So, to recap: