Every home's damage and repair strategy will be different. Identification of your individual needs and having notes handy are critical. We recommend the following:
1) Determine what is your property's current livable status and what is the reasonable risk (escape access blocked, hole in roof for vermin and rain to enter, et cetera).
2) Decide on what the final stage of a solution looks like (clean yard, patched roof, secured windows/doors).
3) Write a list of tasks, as detailed and itemized as possible, to get from current status to final completion.
4) Prioritize the above list of tasks to create a check list.
5) Determine if any of your above tasks are time sensitive and how much time you have or CAN TAKE before pulling the trigger on a solution.
6) During insurance claims, get your insurance company involved in the conversation and ask:
a) when you can expect have spendable funds...
b) if they have an itemized payout of the funds and...
c) are any of your tasks not covered by insurance (like trees felled in the yard, not on a structure). Get documentation of that!
7) Find a copy of your insurance policy and try to read the sections relating to your damage and the cause of the damage.
8) Get an itemized list of what a contractor is proposing to do and make sure you are on the same page as to how it will be executed (where will they park, where will the debris be when they finish, time line, and payment terms).
9) trouble shoot the plan to maximize how far you can get on completion of your tasks. Ask if the contractor can throw in some extra tasks on your list that are not covered by your insurance policy in return for getting the job.
10) Review in full the contract/service agreement/work order that you are supposed to sign. Read the entire thing. Ask questions about things you are not sure about, and get understanding. Also add that the contract is contingent upon you receiving copies of their insurance.
11) Get approval from your insurance company for the cost.
12) verify the contractor is a person or entity that can be tracked down. Check the Secretary of state website. You want to be able to hunt them down if anything goes wrong.
13) If you choose a contractor, get a copy of their General liability insurance, car insurance, and workers comp insurance at the time of signing (all 3 of mine are on 1 paper).
14) compare what the contractor is offering, how far it gets you to completion, if it meets your time sensitive criteria, and if you trust the contractor (don't have to like them, just have to trust that they will do quality work and not sue you for the insurance not paying in a timely manner).
15) Know this: the insurance company is not going to pay for unreasonable prices or unjustified repairs, that is not your worry - Insurance adjusters are busy and need constant reminding to pay out agreed costs.
16) Know this: your worry is what work/tasks are going to left over on your list when the contractor is done, and the quality of the work (this is not the insurance companies problem).
17) Consider if there is a better option for you (like a full service contractor/handyman that can do everything on your list for what the insurance company is not disputing to pay).
18) Don't feel rushed if you don't have to (it is not going to rain for a week and people have lived in worse conditions than a stick in the ceiling for a short period of time).
19) Make a decision, don't waste time. If you have the information to make a decision, then pull the trigger.
20) Try to remain positive and patient. Wait for funds from the insurance company, if you can, so that you can pay as you go and not be in any debt.
21) Closeout the projects as swift as possible. If the insurance company paid the money and the contractor completed the work make sure that the contractor gets the money. No more and no less than what was agreed to. Get a "Paid in Full" receipt in exchange for payment.
We hope that this helps out a lot of people and anyone can feel free to reach out to us directly with a more specific issue. We will help out if we can. :J