Disclaimer: The following information has been developed to assist restoration contractors who are responding to hurricane-related restoration work. All users of this information are encouraged to refer to applicable federal, state/provincial, and local authorities having jurisdiction over the subjects addressed within this document. The RIA makes no representation or warranty as to, and is not responsible for, the accuracy, or validity of the information, or its application by any recipient of this document. The authors do not warrant that the information in this document is free of errors and the entire risk of the use of any information in this publication is assumed by the user. Feedback related to the following information is welcome and can be submitted to Kristy Cohen, CEO at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may update and amend this document moving forward.
The effects of hurricanes are deeply felt by many restoration contractors across the country. Combined with the rising cost of goods due to inflation and the cost of business in general, extreme weather creates significant challenges for restorers. Cleanup, restoration, and rebuilding after a hurricane takes extra time and incurs additional expenses. It is critical for contractors to be prepared, stay organized and informed, and remain diligent during all phases of work to account for these extraordinary circumstances, reduce potential financial and legal exposure, and be compensated in full for their work.
The Restoration Industry Association stands with our members who have experienced personal or professional losses due to extreme weather events and offers resources, support, and advocacy to help their businesses remain strong and resilient. Members have access to helpful information to help them navigate the complex landscape of post-hurricane restoration, like on-demand sessions from the RIA 2022 Fall Technical Conference, including: Conversations with Adjusters; Three Things Every Restorer Needs to Know About Category 3 in a Crawl Space; Intro to Emergency Response/Hazardous Materials; and How to Win at Documentation. Document Your Way to Getting Paid in Full.
Here are some important tips for restorers who perform work during or after a hurricane:
Know Your Work Extension Options
In areas that are declared federal disaster zones, construction contracts with completion dates and work permits that are either ongoing or set to begin at or around the time of the storm may be automatically extended. Restorers should retain evidence of the status of their projects as of the date of the storm, especially if the storm caused additional damage to the property.
Don’t Make Assumptions on
Refrain from making assurances to policyholders or potential customers regarding insurance coverage. Insurance coverage is not guaranteed, especially in cases where there is a combination of flooding, tidal wave action and wind–either with or without rain damage. Conversely, there may be cases where more than one insurance policy is applicable. Always refer insurance coverage questions to a qualified public adjuster or attorney.
Consult with an Attorney
When preparing a repair contract for hurricane-related work, engage with an attorney to make sure that all material terms of the transaction, including the estimated cost of repairs, are addressed. Keep in mind that the actual costs will likely change between the time an estimate is prepared and the time repairs are completed. The attorney preparing the contract should include the necessary provisions to allow for the execution of change prior to the job completion.
Restorers should also consult with an attorney to help ensure that they are protected from insurance caveats. Assignment of Benefits (AOB) and Assignment of Insurance Rights (AOR) can vary depending on factors like type of insurance policy, provider, and state laws, which could leave the assignment holder with no recourse for collection from the property owner if not executed properly.
Because insurance coverage is uncertain, it is important to include provisions in a repair contract to ensure that the restorer is paid for completed work. This includes the solicitation of roof repairs, and whether repair contracts that include real or potential roof repairs should include a provision indicating that the work was not solicited. This is another important reason why all contract forms should be reviewed and approved by an attorney.
Get Certified in Water Damage
Repairs to water-damaged properties in the areas impacted by hurricanes need to be handled carefully. Restorers should comply with OSHA and IICRC standards. Those who are unfamiliar with these standards should immediately familiarize themselves so as not to inadvertently violate proper repair processes and procedures. Daily work logs should be maintained, and extensive photographs and videos should be taken to prove compliance.
The RIA offers a Water Loss Specialist (WLS) Certification that teaches highly specialized skills, such as project management and drying techniques, to ensure that all repair work is conducted in accordance with the appropriate industry and government standards and regulations.
The WLS Program better prepares you for those hurricane and storm situations that other restorers who don’t have their certification will not be able to handle. It differentiates your skill set, versus your competitors, at dealing with unusual, contaminated water that comes from a hurricane event.
Get WLS certified to be ready for the next hurricane season and the water mitigation work that is needed all year round!
Understand Licensing Requirements
Restorers who plan to do restoration, mold remediation, or construction work in a hurricane-affected area and do not have a valid in-state license should check with the county in which the work will be performed to verify you meet the eligibility criteria for a temporary license.
Mold and asbestos testing and remediation have specific licensing requirements that vary by state, so understanding the requirements of the county where the work is being performed is critical to making sure they stay compliant with all regulations.
The RIA is Here to Help!
Restorers face serious challenges with additional time and expenses for work due to hurricanes. The cost of doing business is higher and the collection time for bills and invoices longer. Proper paperwork, including photo and videos, an understanding of federal, state, and county regulations and licensing requirements, and the guidance and assistance of a local attorney are necessary to ensure contractors successfully navigate hurricane-related repairs and restoration.
The RIA is committed to providing our members with the resources and support they need to combat hurricane-related issues. For more information, visit www.restorationindustry.org.