Restoration Advocacy Report #6: The Best Is Yet to Come

Since its inception, the RIA Advocacy and Government Affairs (AGA) Committee has been moving forward like a freight train. Month after month, this movement gains momentum in a way that is unprecedented in the property repair industry. Many restoration practitioners who have been following the AGA reports penned by AGA Chairman Ed Cross have gained confidence as they observe their field that has been fragmented, disjointed and in turmoil, and have begun the process of organizing and unifying under a sustainable paradigm of equitable claims practices.

The game plan has been outlined in the AGA Blueprint. This suggests seven steps whereby restoration companies can move from a defensive and obligatory position, which is often counter to their interests, to a level playing field. Restorers deserve respect as an important player in the ultimate interests of the policyholders who are impacted in the claims process.

The AGA Blueprint was ambitious to be sure. In many regards, there was an expectation that progress in this strategy could take years to accomplish. However, there is no time like the present, and restorers have responded emphatically and with a profound sense of urgency. This response has allowed for not only substantial progress in the goals that have been outlined, but it lays the groundwork for future generations of restorers who will likely be able to measure the action and success of today’s efforts as a watershed moment in the maturation of the restoration industry.

For those in the property restoration field who are unaware of the progress, please indulge me as I share a quick recap. The AGA mission is as follows:

The AGA will develop and implement strategies to help create and maintain a fair and level playing field, financially and legally, for restoration contractors, by advocating for their interests, while working collaboratively with stakeholders involved in the restoration process.

The AGA Committee, led by Ed Cross, includes numerous thought and business leaders who are passionate about the pursuit of this mission. These are not fly-by-night or seat-of-the-pants operators. Rather, they are some of the best and brightest in the property restoration industry who are galvanized in the concepts of creative and collaborative paths to a better and brighter future for our entire industry. The hours and sacrifice that these individuals offer, often with little credit and recognition, is incredible. Collectively, we owe each of them a debt of gratitude.

In the pursuit of this mission, the AGA has organized itself with a structure of four subcommittees. These subcommittees include: Estimating, TPAs, Third Party Consultants and Investments. Of these four committees, all but Investments are likely self-explanatory. The Investment Subcommittee seeks to raise the capital that will be required to advance this movement and sustain its future.

It is at this subcommittee level where a great deal of the heavy lifting occurs. This is where the important position statements that provide guidance to RIA members are developed. These position statements also provide a basis for engagement with other stakeholders in the property repair claims process whereby the interests of restorers are articulated in a succinct manner.

On Oct. 30, 2019, at the Property Insurance Repair Conference (PIRC) in Chicago, RIA announced two major milestones in the progress of the AGA effort. The first was the unanimous approval by the RIA Board of Directors of the first position statement in RIA’s 73-year history. The second announcement is the appointment and retention of the RIA restoration advocate.

The position statement pertains to scope request changes for TPA assignments, and the full statement is posted on the RIA website and C&R content hub. This will provide guidance to RIA members who encounter these challenges in claim resolution. More importantly, the process that the TPA Subcommittee used to advance this position will serve as a guideline for future position statements that will be generated in the future.

The position statements that are approved by RIA will not only provide guidance to its members, but, in the hands of a restoration advocate, will assist in unifying our voice in a way that is cogent and fairly represented to claims stakeholders who are either unaware of our positions or who have ignored them in the past.

The concept of a restoration advocate is based on the presumption that restorers aren’t always the best advocates for their respective positions. This has been due to a fear of retribution or backlash they feel they may face if they are forced to speak to the needs of their businesses. Ideally, the best restoration advocate would be a “tough-as-nails diplomat” who has a deep understanding of the property restoration ecosystem.

As position statements are developing, it became clear that identifying this individual is paramount. RIA vetted and considered over 15 individuals for the position of restoration advocate. While the resumes of many of these candidates were impressive, none are as impressive or tailor-fit to this role than that of Edward Cross himself. Importantly, he is not only a successful litigator, but he is also a proven court-appointed mediator in numerous litigated cases. His approach in seeking equitable win-win outcomes is an important qualification that he brings to this position. While Ed has served with unparalleled passion in a volunteer capacity, we came to realize that he is the best person to fulfill the role envisioned as the restoration advocate. In the short run, Ed will continue as the AGA chairman, but we will endeavor to find an individual to take the reins of the committee to free Ed to focus his efforts on advocating for restorers.

Both milestones are important and demonstrate to restoration company owners, operators, managers and technicians that our industry is credible and must be taken seriously as an important participant in the property claims resolution process. And while these steps are both important and encouraging, this is just the beginning. Stay posted, the best is yet to come.

This article was shared in C&R with the permission of the Restoration Industry Association.

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