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I already paid a contractor to perform a repair on my chimney but now they are demanding more. I contacted my home owners insurance company and told me they will send out an adjuster. How do I go about with this process to ensure I receive enough money to pay for the repairs?”
Asked May 17, 2016
Essentially, the underlying cause of damage to your chimney will be what determines the outcome of this situation. Most standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover structural damage that comes as a result of things like settling, shifting, earthquake, or improper construction. So if any of these conditions caused the chimney damage, you are unlikely to see any payment issued from your insurance carrier.
On the other hand, if the damage was caused by a covered loss, such as windstorm or a fallen tree, there are a couple of ways the situation could go. For a new claim, your insurance carrier will send out an adjuster to assess the damage. He or she will determine what coverage, if any, applies to the loss and then a repair estimate will be written. It is not unusual for an adjuster's estimate to be slightly different from the one written by the contractor since labor amounts vary. However, it is important to remember that your insurance company will not issue a payment for the full repair amount. If you receive a claim check, it will cover the cost of repairs minus your deductible. For example, if the adjuster gives a $5,000 repair estimate and you have a $1,000 deductible on your policy, the company will issue a payment for $4,000. You will be responsible for paying the last $1,000 to the contractor.
In the event the situation you have described pertains to an existing claim, where an adjuster has already issued payment and the contractor has started repairs, it is possible to receive additional payment from your insurer. You might be surprised to find that it is not uncommon for a repair company to uncover additional damage even after an insurance adjuster has performed an assessment. When this occurs, either you or your contractor can request a supplemental payment from your insurance company. They may require pictures of the newly discovered damage and a revised repair estimate or your insurer may simply take a statement from your contractor.
As long as the newly found damage is a result of the same condition that caused the initial damage, the additional repairs will be covered under the same claim. This is good news because it means you will not be required to pay another deductible or have a duplicate claim. However, you should be aware that your insurance company could decline the extra damage if it does not appear to be caused by a covered loss. For instance, if your chimney is being repaired after the top was broken by a falling tree, and during the course of repair, your contractor discovered a crack caused by foundation problems, your insurance company is unlikely to cover the additional repairs since settling is not a covered loss.
In the end, there is not anything you can really do to make sure your insurance company will cover the entire repair bill. Ultimately, if your insurer decides that the damage was not caused by a covered loss, it will be up to you to work out a financial arrangement with your contractor.
Answered May 19, 2016 by bukev