Emergency Response Contractor

How do I choose the right emergency response contractor?

Category: Article • November 10, 2021

Ask your family or friends for a reliable contractor. 

Family and friends will refer you to someone they know or who has worked for them in the past. Why? Because they trust the contractor and have experience with them.  Word of mouth referrals are one of the best options. 

Who else can I ask?

Maybe you have a trade contractor in your home helping you fix the problem that caused the disaster, such as a plumber, HVAC tech or duct cleaner.  It is not unusual for a trade contractor to make a recommendation. This typically happens when the two have worked together before and the trade contractor knows the quality of the emergency response contractor’s work.  It may also be a referral from a real estate agent, insurance agent, or home inspector.

More and more weather-related storm damage is occurring due to increased intensity of storms.

Did you know storm claims have doubled since 1979?

An alternative to asking for a recommendation is to search the Internet for a trusted contractor.  If you do, check out their website, online reviews, and testimonials.  Consider it a big red flag if the company does not have a presence on the internet.  If there is a problem with the company, you will quickly find out. 

Insurance companies refer preferred contractors, who pay a fee to be on their programs. Insurance programs provide volume work to contractors and the contractor must follow set guidelines for remediation and repair. Insurance companies benefit because they can control the total outcome of the property loss.  

You might feel obligated to use your insurance company’s recommendation.  They have your best interest, right?  You have paid premiums for years and in return, your insurance company will ensure the work is done correctly, right?  Not always!

Does my emergency response contractor need to be certified?

Emergency Response Contractor fixing a counter

Make sure the company has industry-specific certifications.  The restoration industry is certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration (IICRC).  The certifications include Water, Fire, Smoke, Odor, Trauma & Crime Scene Cleanup, Drying Specialist and Microbial Remediation (Mold). 

This ensures the technicians coming onsite have been educated and certified in handling the cleanup necessary for your type of loss. The IICRC sets standards for the industry to follow to ensure technicians know the proper procedures, how to use and read meters and how to determine the right equipment to use for your loss.

Is my contractor required to be licensed to perform work in my home?

An approved contractor will have a Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC) License number. This authorizes the company to perform construction-related work in your business or home. This is usually posted on company websites.  You can also go to the State of Maryland and search the business entity, as well as confirm they have an MHIC number before you begin work.  Do not use an unlicensed contractor to work in your business or home. It may be cheaper, but you do not have any recourse when the unlicensed contractor takes your money and does not return or does poor workmanship.

What to do when an emergency happens?

Emergencies and disasters happen unexpectedly and when it is not convenient. It may be caused by weather, system failures, accidents, etc.  Be prepared. 

Information you will need. 

  • Insurance company name and number
  • Insurance policy to verify your loss coverage and deductibles
  • Emergency Response Contractor in your phone before a problem happens. Call 866-712-4911
  • Make sure you secure all valuables and firearms before any contractor comes to your business or home. 

It is overwhelming and upsetting when an emergency loss occurs.  Being prepared is essential to reducing your stress and getting your business or home back to its original condition.  Knowing where your policy is located is important and accessing your insurance company’s claim phone number.  Remember you have the right to choose your emergency response contractor.  Most emergency response contractors work with your insurance company and will help you settle your claim as quickly as possible.

Author:  Rebecca Winiarski 

Excerpt from “The Little Book on Hiring an Emergency Response Contractor – What Every Property Owner Should Know” ISBN 9798458966498.