Information & Tips To Help You Navigate A Disaster
We know how frustrating it can be to have an unexpected fire or disaster disrupt and cause timely delays in your life. At Bowles Construction, we take great pride in assuring you about what needs to be done, in order to get your life back to normal, as quickly as possible.
Below you will find helpful information about your responsibilities and our responsibilities to you. We have also included important information, forms and phone numbers, to make all processes as simple as possible.
We realize that you do have a choice in our marketplace and we would appreciate you giving us a chance to prove why Bowles Construction, Inc. remains one of the premier restoration contractors in our community. As a locally-owned and -operated company, we have served the CSRA for over thirty years, rebuilding homes and the lives of the people in them. Should you require any assistance in the initial phase of the restoration process, do not hesitate to contact us. In the event you should choose another contractor to assist you in this process, this page will still apply and we wish you the best of luck.
The Bowles Team
Please note that the information contained within this page is for information purposes only. Bowles Construction takes no responsibility for any actions taken or not taken in accordance with the guidance contained within this handbook. It is the owners’ responsibility to ensure the steps recommended within are completed in a timely manner, in order to ensure the job is completed in the most accurate and time efficient manner possible.
Easy Access Contact Numbers
You should have the following numbers always easily available:
American Red Cross: (706) 724-8481
Click here to download a copy that you can print and fill out.
Office Phone Number:
Understanding Your Insurance Policy
Following A Fire Or Tragedy
Emotional trauma usually accompanies a fire, which causes disruption and damage to your life and the lives of your family members. One of the most important things to pay attention to following a fire is the recovery from the crisis and the reduction of your losses. The following information is intended to provide you with the information necessary to help you know what needs to be done.
Insurance Professional Descriptions
- Agent: the person who sold you your insurance policy.
- Claims Adjuster: the person who represents your insurance company. All negotiations of your insurance settlement will be through this person.
- Contractor: the company that will restore your home.
Understanding Your Insurance Policy
The insurance policy you purchased to cover your home will now have a major impact on the repair. It is important for you to understand the coverage your policy provides. Each insurance company writes its own unique policy, but the basic coverage of most insurance policies is quite similar.
What is Covered
- Most policies have limited coverage for items like jewelry, landscaping, money, silverware, etc.
- The amount of the deductible. (The amount of the loss you pay, usually $500.00 - $1,000.00.)
- There also could be things your insurance company may cover that you are not aware of. Make sure to keep a list with you of any questions that you would like to ask.
Your Insurance Agent
For specific information about your insurance policy, it is important that you meet with your insurance agent ASAP. Your agent will be your best resource for explaining the benefits as well as the limitations of your individual policy.
Whether or not your policy contains replacement cost, you will only be eligible for compensation in the amount of your policy limit.
Give Prompt Notice to the Insurance Company: This is usually done through your agent. You should also be able to reach them using a toll free number.
Call the Police in Case of a Loss by Theft: If someone has stolen something, you are obligated to immediately call the police.
Protect the Property from Further Damages, Including Reasonable and Necessary Repairs: Keep damage from getting worse by completing any necessary repairs, including covering holes in the roof and boarding up windows and doors. This is the time to have Bowles Construction respond and assist you (you can also ask your insurance agent).
Show the Damaged Property: You are required to show the insurance company any damaged property as often as they reasonably request.
Provide Records, Documents, and Permits to the Insurance Company to Make Copies: The insurance company may desire to see deeds, bills of sale, and other documents that establish ownership and values.
Keep an Accurate Record Of Repair Expenses: While making the above repairs, you must keep receipts and detailed records for submission to the insurance company in order to get paid. Most repair contractors and related professionals who deal in this sort of work are aware of this requirement, and will often provide duplicate receipts to the insurance company as a matter of business. Bowles Construction will work with you through the entire process and provide all required documentation.
Prepare an Inventory of Damaged Personal Property Showing the Quantity, Description, Actual Cash Value and Amount of Loss: This is the difficult one. You are required to carefully go through your home and make a detailed list of every destroyed and damaged item. Then you must compile the actual cash value for each item. Where possible, you should show receipts if you have them and they were not destroyed.
Photograph, Photograph, Photograph: If possible, take photos of any damage to the home and its affected contents.
Do Not Throw Anything Away: Do not discard of any items until the item(s) have been properly photographed, documented and inventoried. Even items such as food and toiletries. It is always best to check with your adjuster to make sure he/she doesn’t need to view the items before disposal.
The Fire Department
Why were windows broken or holes cut in the walls and roof? These procedures occurred because as a fire burns, it moves upward then outward. In order to slow the damage caused by outward movement of a fire, and remove thick smoke which obscures the fire, breaking the windows and/or cutting holes in the roof enables the firefighters to more efficiently fight the fire. Cutting holes in the walls allows the fire department to be completely sure that the fire is fully extinguished.
Can we get a copy of the fire report? In many areas a fire report is considered to be a public document and is available at either the fire department or the fire marshals’ office.
What about the emergency personnel and the firefighters? If you are impressed with the support and professionalism or if you want to extend your gratitude to the emergency personnel, you may do so, particularly in writing.
What to Take with You if You Need to Leave Your Home
- Any Insurance Papers
- Cash and/or Credit Cards
- Car Keys
- Jewelry or Other Valuable Possessions
- Cell Phone with Charger
- Phone/Address Book or Vital Contact Information
- Driver’s License or ID
- Medical Information such as Prescriptions, Medical Documentation, or Crucial Phone Numbers
- Devices Such as Hearing Aids, Eyeglasses, etc.
- Ensure that No Food, Beverage, or Medicine Exposed Directly to Smoke, Heat, Soot, or Water Is Consumed
- Ensure that All Utilities are Disconnected or Safe to Use, if Needed
- Medication and/or Eyeglasses
- Safes or Fireboxes
- Computer Hard Drives or Storage Devices
Important Documents That Might Need Immediate Replacement
- Birth Certificates
- Death Certificates
- Medical Records
- Insurance Policies
- Social Security Cards
- Divorce Papers
- Military Papers
- Payment Books
- Automobile Title
- Burial Contracts
- Driver's Licenses
- Bank Books
- Marriage Papers
- Credit Cards
- Titles to Deeds
- Income Tax Records
- Auto Registrations
- Citizenship Papers
- Animal Registrations
How to Select a Restoration Contractor
Rule #1: Do Not Choose Family: Aside from the obvious problem of working closely with a relative, this choice almost never works for either you or your relative. Restoration after a disaster is a very emotional process. As with any construction experience, there are challenges. Relationships can suffer over the simplest reasons. You need a contractor who is not emotionally attached to you and your loss
.Rule #2: Do Not Choose the Company Who Built Your House: The original contractor does not usually have substantial experience in insurance restoration, which will be the ultimate pitfall in this selection. A contractor who specializes in new construction often has no idea how to partially repair a structure. These companies also lack experience in removing smoke odors, completing proper cleaning and using many other repair techniques. Also, having an insurance company to work with can be complicated and difficult to navigate.
Rule #3: Do Not Choose Someone Who Hasn't Worked with Insurance Companies: Keep in mind that insurance companies are constantly victims of fraud. Shareholders and policy holders like you are responsible to document the loss. Insurance companies require detailed listings of loss. You usually need to rely on an experienced insurance repair contractor to complete an estimate that meets the insurance company's standards, and special estimating software is required.
Rule #4: Make Sure Your Contractor Has Estate Business License, and Workers’ Comp and Liability Insurance: It is extremely important to confirm that your contractor is properly licensed and insured. You may verify licensing status following website for the state of SC at 803-896-4300 or online at https://verify.llronline.com/LicLookup/ and State of GA 478-207-2440 or online at https://secure.sos.state.ga.us/myverificalion/. It can be a costly mistake if your contractor works on your home without these.
Rule #5: Ask Questions: One of the best ways to determine whether you want to work with someone is by asking questions. Ask as many as you like and they should always have an answer or be able to obtain one. Make sure not only to ask your potential contractor questions, but also ask your neighbors, friends and relatives about any contractor you are considering.
Rule #6: Talk To Your Relatives, Neighbors and Friends: People you know and trust are going to be your best source for a contractor. Also checking with the Better Business Bureau is a great source as well. Don't be afraid to ask a prospective contractor for local referrals from other homeowners just like yourself. They should be able to provide contact information and/or written testimonials without any problem if they are a reputable contractor.
Rule #7: Communication: It is vital that you feel you can communicate with your contractor. This doesn’t mean you have to like us; in fact sometimes it is more difficult to communicate with a friend because you are afraid to hurt their feelings and lose their friendship. If we have the ability to easily and clearly explain what will be happening, chances are we will be able to work well together. Secondly, try a few ideas out on us, and see how well we understand you.
Rule #8: Find Out Services Offered: Restoration companies often provide different services to their clients. Some of the services may include:
- Structural Damage Estimates
- Repairing of Structural Damage
- Packing, Transportation, and Storage of Any Household Items
- Finding Appropriate Repair and/or Cleaning Subcontractors
- Estimates for the Cost to Repair and/or Renew Any Personal Property
- Storing Any Repaired Items
Look for a company that will handle all of your needs. Working with one representative of one company is so much easier to deal with than working with ten. Bowles will handle all of the subcontractors such has electricians, plumbers, painters, finish carpenters, cleaners and HVAC specialists (just to name a few).
What to Expect When Working with a Reputable Restoration Contractor
Estimating Process: Once your decision is made to hire a restoration contractor, they will need to thoroughly investigate your home. They will take many photographs, measurements, color and material samples and more. Over the next few days they will build a solid estimate. At this time they will also be working closely with you and your adjustor. Once the estimate is completed, they will get it approved by the insurance company. Once the estimate is approved, they will review it with you and have you sign a contract.
Our Current Workload: It is important to keep in mind that when your job is approved, it is immediately entered into their work schedule, but there are many things that can affect the scheduling of your project. Factors affecting a schedule can include: unforeseen or additional work scheduled for completion prior to your projects start, field personnel illness, vacations, unavoidable delays in delivery of materials, material selections, complications and more. Due to the number of variables involved, please keep in mind that your project start date is our best estimate.
Special Considerations or Conditions: You will receive a call from their office confirming your project start date. If you have any special considerations or conditions that we should be aware of, review them with your project manager.
Any Additional Work: Additional work refers specifically to any work above and beyond what is listed within the original agreement. The price quoted is for the description of work on your proposal only. The cost of work that is required beyond the description will be calculated and added on with work authorization based on your approval and payment only.
Production Time: Our goal is to complete your project to your satisfaction, in the approximate time we estimated. We will do everything possible to accomplish this goal, but many factors can add time to a job, such as: additional work requests, building inspections, changes to the estimate, unforeseen damage and poor weather. Once the job is started, it is essential that we have full access to the site for the duration of the project. If your project involves kitchen, bath or other major remodeling, then multiple work crews may be involved. Factors that may affect day-to-day scheduling include: the amount and time of work needed to coordinate with other workers, unforeseen conditions and other necessary scheduling adjustments.
Access to Your Driveway, Yard and Home: It will be necessary to have access to your driveway, yard and home, depending on the project. They would appreciate it if you could make arrangements to have your cars out of the driveway, and remove all items in the work area.
Communication: It is important to make sure everyone involved in the process has a way to contact you, 24 hours a day, so that they can ensure you are informed of any critical steps or decisions.
Demolition: This is a noisy and dirty part of the job. Unfortunately, the noise is unavoidable, and in most instances, dust and particles will settle into the interior of your attic and home. If you have any items that you want to protect, please cover or remove them prior to the start of your job. Due to removal and installation, vibrations most likely will be sent throughout your home. Items on walls that are not securely hung could be jarred loose, and perhaps fall. We suggest that if you have any concerns, it is best to remove these items. Unfortunately, we cannot be held responsible for these vibrations possibly causing cracks, or in rare cases, damaging personal items during construction.
Hidden or Missed Damages: When the original estimate is completed, and the insurance company settles on the loss, it is possible to miss some damages that were hidden. Hidden damages are damages that were impossible for the contractor to anticipate or see at the time the estimate was completed. In most cases, hidden damage occurs because of an unusual feature in the original structure that the contractor could not anticipate. Damage can be hidden inside a wall, for example, or simply be an item a contractor missed because it was covered with huge amounts of debris. The contractor can apply to the insurance company for additional damage by helping you file a supplemental.
Debris Removal: The insurance company will pay the cost of removing and discarding destroyed material from your home.