There’s a sneaky little problem with some fire damage restoration companies. The fact is, some of these companies are fraudulent and some aren’t. As a homeowner, it’s tough to tell. You’ve already experienced a tragic event. Now it’s important to prevent being ripped off because you’re in a vulnerable state and you just want to get your life back together.
Fire Damage Restoration Companies: Chasing Doesn’t Determine Legitimacy
You may think “chasers” when you’re picturing illegitimate companies. You’ve probably seen exposés on the local news about it.
What’s a “chaser”? Chasing means that someone at the fire damage restoration company is sitting by a police or fire scanner waiting to hear your 911 call being dispatched. Then the “chaser” rushes out to the fire and tries to convince the homeowner to use their services.
Both legit and illegitimate companies “chase.”
Many firemen, police, municipal managers, and insurance professionals find this practice distasteful. Some “chasers” may prevent medics and other first responders from being able to get in to help the victims.
Fire Damage Restoration Companies: How You’ll Experience Being “Chased”
You’ll notice a rush of cars that show up behind fire trucks. Sometimes “chasers” will even arrive before the trucks. Most likely, it’s fire restoration companies looking for work.
Sometimes they’ll just drive up, sit and wait.
After the fire department leaves, don’t be surprised if these “chasers” approach you, give you literature about how they’re a legitimate fire damage restoration company. Then, you’ll hear their sales pitch.
All fire damage restoration companies will promise to help you. It’s a business. Fire damage restoration companies are in the business of solving your problem. They’ve got bills to pay, just like you.
Meanwhile, you’re feeling bizarre. You’re in a state of shock.
In that state, it’s tough to discern who you can trust and who you can’t. You just want this nightmare over with and you’re just about ready to sign any piece of paper to make this problem go away.
Are you injured? Some “chasers” have been known to place paper in victim’s hands so that they’ll get the signature. Some have been known to chase down your family and friends to check and see how you’re doing.
Yes, it’s pushy. Yes, it’s aggressive. Still, “chasing” isn’t a sign of legitimacy.
Fire Damage Restoration Companies: How Do You Know Who You Can Trust?
When you don’t know what you don’t know, how do you proceed in picking a fire damage restoration company?
Call your insurance company. You’re going to be filing a claim anyway. Get their recommendation.
Here’s what to expect when you call your agent:
Your insurance agent will recommend a valid restoration contractor
The recommended company will accept your insurance
Assistance navigating your claim and what to expect
Your insurance agent may directly provide you a referral or your agent may leave it up the insurance claims department. Either way you’ll get a list of up to three local fire restoration companies that can help you or your insurance carrier may give a direct assignment to your local fire damage restoration company.
Why the variation? It all depends on your individual insurance product.
If you choose to go call your insurance company, it’s important to know not to sign anything else. This means if another company shows up at your place, don’t sign anything. Rather trust the process and proceed from there. That’s the hard part.
Fire Damage Restoration Companies: What to Do When You Don’t Like the Insurance Company’s Choice
If you’re unsatisfied with the choices your insurance company offers, your second line of defense is to ask your local fire company.
It is critical that you—the homeowner—rely on referral from a trusted source. Although, time is of the essence when it comes to restoring your home it’s still equally important is to take a few moments to double check that you’re making a good decision.
As previously mentioned, fire companies find “chasing” unpleasant. This means local fire companies can tell you which companies are legit and which ones aren’t.
Aside from the local fire company, trust your:
Your plumber that you’ve worked with for years
Ultimately find someone who puts your best interest at heart—not theirs.
Fire Damage Restoration Companies: Final Take Away
Finally, it’s important that the contractor have a PA contractor’s license. Ask to see it.