Insurance vendors, should I hire them? When asked this question it makes me reflect back at the numerous water damage situations our company has responded too. When Puritan is called for water damage jobs, we immediately respond and dispatch our emergency technicians to extract the water and set up drying equipment. We then advise our customers that the next step is to inform their insurance company to report the loss.
When reporting their water damage to the insurance companies, some customers have been asked by their insurance representatives who they have hired to help them with the water damage. The insurance representative often offers advice as to whom they "would prefer" you to use. Insurance companies will never insinuate not to hire a vendor, but they will "imply" that you should hire one of their "preferred vendors". You as a customer, can hire anyone you desire; actually it is your right by law.
Under the law, it's your right to choose the firm that will perform the services in your home. Insurance companies cannot tell you which vendor to use, "they can only recommend". Some of these preferred water damage firms have agreements with the insurance companies to charge certain prices and to handle the water losses in a certain way that might not always be in the customer's best interest.
Therefore it poses the question, any insurance vendor that gets a large percentage of their income from insurance companies, where do their allegiances lie? Is it with their customer or the insurance company? It seems to me that the possibility of conflict of interest is very real with relationships like this. A lot of these insurance vendors are very good and competent, but when you are hiring any vendor to work in your home or business, that vendor's allegiance should be with you, the customer, and not insurance company, so be aware!
Who could believe rain in February? Most Bostonians rejoiced that it rained and not snowed like the rest of the rest of the country which had record breaking snowfalls. However there are some Bostonians who wished it had snowed, not because they like skiing but because their basements flooded due to the heavy rains. Inevitably whenever the North East gets a lot of rain in a very short time, basements flood and the most important tool a home owner needs in a basement is a Sump Pump.
The majority of our customers with flooded basements who needed our services to pump out their basements all had Sump Pumps; however those pumps failed to work when they were most needed. A large percentage of these flooded basements could have been prevented. How you ask? With preventative maintenance.
Sump pumps are like clothes dryers and dishwashers they both need periodic maintenance to operate efficiently. It is recommended that in the states where rain and flooding is more prevalent, sump pumps should be tested every few months, while other states that only have periodic flooding, they should be tested twice per year.
Sump pump maintenance:
- After a Heavy Rain - Check the inlet screen for any blockage. This is one of the leading causes of pump failure
- Fill the sump pit up with water to make sure the pump is working.
- Once the pump starts to work, go outside to see if the pump is actually pumping water, or place your hand around the pipe to feel if the water is passing thru it. You must check to see if the pump is actually pumping water because sometimes the pump will turn on but not actually pump anything.
- Make sure that the float controlling the pump is not restricted or getting hung up.
- If the pump has a back-up battery, it should be replaced every second or third year.
Finally if your home does flood due to the malfunction of your sump pump, be aware that your home owner's policy almost always excludes sump pump failure. My advice to you would be to call your insurance broker to see if you can add a sump pump clause to onto your policy. The cost for this is very small compared to the thousands of dollars it might cost you if that pump does fail and you end up with two feet of water in your finished basement.