Based on some of the questions I see posted here on a regular basis, it’s rather clear there are a number of readers here who could use some help with insurance claims. Since I’ve been writing a ton of supplements lately, I thought it might be helpful to share some of that experience. Let me add that it is equally obvious there are numerous posters here who are very knowledgeable with the insurance side so I’d certainly invite them to add their own advice. Clearly, there are numerous ways to make this work, it is a matter of each person/company finding what works best for them. For that matter, it can vary from adjuster to adjuster, insurance company to insurance company.
For the purpose of this discussion, let’s define a supplement as a charge or charges that need to added to a claim for items omitted, overlooked, under paid or discovered after work begins. There are far, far too many contractors out there who simply accept an insurance job, do the work, provide the extras then never bother to attempt to get paid for them.
First, supplement sooner rather than later. There is absolutely no guarantee you’ll get paid for work done if you didn’t first seek approval. The majority of the time, the toll free number for the claims center is on the scope of loss. The Adjusters number is often listed and in some cases, their email addresses. If you do much insurance work, develop a data base of this contact information, it will certainly come in handy and save you time.
A digital camera is your friend, use it liberally. You are often presenting your supplement to a desk adjuster who has and never will see the property. Your job when proposing a supplement is to provide images and documentation that will allow that adjuster to see what you’re seeing and find in your favor based upon the case you are able to put in front of them. Imagine you are sitting at a desk 500 miles away and have never seen this property. Now imagine what would you need to see in order to understand what is being requested and authorize the expenditure. Okay, that’s what you need to provide with the supplement you are presenting.
Let’s say you accepted a roof replacement from an insurance claim. You review the scope of loss and see steep charges, high (second story) charges, pipe jack boots and ridge vent were not paid for. Make sure your camera has the date and time settings correct. Go to the property. Take a picture of the mailbox showing the number. Take a picture of the front of the house (both of these to establish you’re presenting pictures from the right property). For two story high charges, take more ground pictures showing the eaves of the slopes where the high charges should be applied. Get on the roof and take pictures of your pitch gage showing the pitch of the slope. Take pictures showing the ridge vent and pipe jacks. Since you’re on the roof, look around and see if there was anything else overlooked. If so, take pictures showing the damaged and/or overlooked item(s). Drip edge and valley metal are often overlooked (or purposefully omitted). Take pictures.
Return to your office and put your supplement together. Prepare your estimate for the items you wish to supplement for. Add in your pictures. Write an explanation for each item. IMPORTANT: always have the claim number printed on each page of your supplement. Call the insurance company, have the scope of loss handy in order to answer questions. You’ll be asked for the claim number. When you get to the right person, explain who you are and that you wish to file a supplement. Ask for an email address if available, makes it a lot easier to send the pictures. When done, email or fax the supplement. Call 2 or 3 days later to see that it was received. Ask if it has been assigned and if so, get the contact information for that person (assuming you’re not put in contact with them immediately).