February 16, 2017
Recently, CBC News featured a couple from Mission, B.C., who have been locked in an ongoing dispute with their insurance company after a routine claim escalated into an all-out repair disaster. Also, the couple alleges that contractors recommended by the insurance company caused close to a million dollars worth of damage to their home, which they believe it is no longer safe to live in.
Murphy Battista LLP’s own Scott Stanley spoke to CBC’s Go Public and cautions homeowners to do their due diligence when it comes to using what insurance companies sometimes call “preferred vendors.” Scott pointed out that the “preferred vendor” terminology can be misleading. The key is the criteria that insurance companies use to select their preferred vendors. Scott cautions that the select process is frequently based not on how good a vendor may be in their chosen trade, but rather on how cheaply they perform repairs. You have to remember that insurance companies are in business to make a profit. Paying out claims (claim costs) affect the bottom line. Therefore, if there’s a way to keep repair costs low it stands to reason they may be inclined to opt for the cheapest solution. Best practice is to do your homework and check out the vendor on your own before agreeing to use them.
After making an initial claim, Scott advises homeowners to consider their options. If a preferred vendor is suggested, take steps to make sure you check them out thoroughly to make sure you are getting quality workmanship. You also have the option of seeking a loan from your bank, paying up front for repairs using a contractor of your choice, and then submitting the claim to your insurance company for reimbursement. This can involve obtaining several quotes from different companies, then receiving the approval of the insurance company before starting repairs. As Scott mentions the claims process can take up to 6 months, further delaying repairs causing undue stress on the homeowners: “Although it’s a good technical process to resolve your legal issues, it’s not a good practical resolution to your insurance claim,” he says.
While this Go Public investigation sheds light on the vulnerabilities of homeowner insurance claims, it’s important to talk to a professional insurance lawyer who will be able to guide you through the legalities of the insurance claims process. Contact Murphy Battista LLP for a free consultation to discuss effective ways to maximize your chances of receiving full coverage.