The Property Claim Lifecycle

claims with an edge

what you need to know


It doesn’t matter if you’re a manufacturer, landlord or a homeowner, a catastrophic property loss will be a milestone event in your lifetime. It will probably be part of every conversation you have for the next several months. It will be something you remember for the rest of your life. I’ll give you the punchline now, a little planning will save you big headaches later.

“An hour of planning can save 10 hours of doing.”

— Dale Carnegie

In the immediate aftermath of a devastating claim, in the first hours, days, and weeks there will be significant pressure on you to make decisions that will affect the outcome of your loss.

When a claim happens, it happens fast. I hope you have a To Do list ready. If not, your head will spin.

You’ll have fire marshals, building Inspectors, health Inspectors public adjusters, and possibly the DEP & EPA breathing down your neck.

The decisions you make under stress will have downstream effects. Make good decisions and have a plan.

The first hours are critical. Who’s going to do the cleanup, board up and tarping of your roof? Where are you going to relocate to? Who are you hiring to do the repairs? How will you manage the authorities, the cash flow, insurance adjusters, contractors, consultants and vendors? Do you want to tell a client that represents 30% of your revenue their order will be delayed six weeks?

That’s a lot of questions to answer in the immediate aftermath of a devastating claim. It’s why a plan helps.

Here’s what to expect over the course of the next year. In the first two months, unless your brother-in-law is the building inspector or you fund-raise for the governor, count on the bureaucracy to delay your progress. The authorities will have control of the site until they’re good and ready to release it.

Which remediation vendor should you choose? Even the big national vendors are usually small franchisees and they’ll need to mobilize resources from other vendors. Ask your remediation vendor for a
list of jobs they have performed of this magnitude. Not the parent company, their particular franchise. Get referrals.

After the cleanup, the demo guys come in to get rid of everything that can’t be fixed. And then back to the authorities for permission to begin repairs and move forward.

The following six months begin with engineering. If your structure was not razed. Architects and structural engineers will come in to plan the rebuild. That will significantly slow your progress.

Once you have the OK to rebuild, the trades come in to frame the structure with the all the appurtenant utilities to service the building.

Now it’s starting to look like something and you’re only nine months in. The next two months is for the finishing trades to come in and make the structure useable and habitable.

The last month is dealing with getting permission from the authorities for occupancy, wrapping things up with your contractor and actually moving back in. If you’re a manufacturer, that might require hiring riggers to move any heavy equipment that was salvaged.

The reality and my advice; If you are faced with a catastrophic property claim, to steal a line from the 1978 classic film Animal House, “my advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”

It’s no joke. An event like this will be anxiety inducing and will test the metal of even the staunchest Stoic. But you must take a Stoic view:

  • Be thankful of lives not lost.
  • Remorse those that were.
  • Then, attend to the task at hand.

The next 12 to18 months of your life will be devoted to getting back to normal. Don’t put yourself in a position to have to make those decisions under stress. Think and plan now, so you only have to execute later.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

– Abraham Lincoln

IMA offers solutions. From free fill-in-the-blank templates, to robust plans that will minimize disruption. I challenge any broker to offer you better solutions.


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