QFB Property Restoration
- Written by: E.C. Gregg
- Produced by: Kyle Gahm
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
As Hurricane Matthew approached the coast of Florida in early October 2016, QFB Property Restoration was busy building its inventory to help with the crisis.
Even though the disaster restoration company is located in Orlando—almost an hour away from the coast—QFB knew it would be called in to assist with the recovery.
“[On the coast] there aren’t a lot of restoration companies,” says Nick Dyroff, business development manager. “So when someone calls their insurance company and says, ‘I’ve got water coming in and my roof is ripped off’ … if they don’t have anyone doing repairs, that’s when insurance companies give our name out.”
Besides flood damage repair and water removal (mitigation), QFB’s services include fire, lightning and mold damage repair; tree removal; roof and vandalism damage repair; asbestos abatement; biohazard clean-up and more.
In addition to being a first responder, QFB also restores everything from houses to commercial businesses and apartments. However, the company understands these often require specialized approaches.
For businesses and commercial spaces, Dyroff says the priority is to make sure there is minimal business interruption.
“But with homeowners, our mindset is remembering that every job we walk onto is potentially the worst day their lives,” he says. “Half the time we are almost a counselor for them because we want to give them the confidence that we’re going to get [their house] back to where it was, if not better.”
Signing documents in a crisis
Recently, QFB has had to contend with other restoration companies damaging the reputation of the industry.
Dyroff says a classic example is when a client wakes up one morning and finds their basement filled with water. Their immediate response is to call a plumber who will turn off the water and generally refers them to a mitigation, or water removal company.
Normally, when they arrive, the mitigation company offers what’s known as a “work authorization” form, which gives legal permission for the contractor to start work inside the home. But Dyroff says some restoration companies are hiding an assignment of benefits (AOB) clause in the contract.
“All the homeowner is being told is you need to sign this so we can come into your home, otherwise it’s going to flood out even worse, so of course they’re going to sign it,” Dyroff says. “But what they don’t know is that they are signing over their insurance claim benefits to the restoration company.”
An AOB gives the mitigation or restoration company the right to directly file the claim with the insurance company, which means the returning check will have the company’s name on it instead of the homeowner’s. Originally, it was introduced as a way for contractors to ensure they would be paid for their work.
“But what is happening is these companies are taking advantage of it and instead of charging $3,000, which is the normal going rate for a dry out on your average home … they’re submitting an invoice to the insurance company for $30,000, hoping to settle somewhere in the middle,” Dyroff says.
The insurance company is now locked in a legal battle with the restoration company, sometimes for months at a time, because it knows this is an astronomical price for the amount of work that was done.
Repairs on the home are halted until the situation is resolved, so the customer is stuck in a house he or she can’t live in because three feet of drywall has been ripped out to prevent mold growth.
In the end, insurance companies are usually forced to settle, which means these mitigation companies walk off with almost $15,000 on a job that should have cost $3,000.
Why preferred is better
Dyroff says companies participating in these unethical activities, which include fire chasing and bribing plumbers for referrals, are giving his industry a bad name. Insurance companies are responding by enforcing direct repair programs (DRP), which requires policy holders to use only vendors their insurance company has approved.
This has created some fear in policy holders, i.e., homeowners, because they feel their choices are being taken away from them.
“But what the average homeowner might not realize is … the reason [the insurance companies] want them to use the preferred vendors is that they’re going to get it done efficiently and properly, the way it should be,” Dyroff says.
Most of QFB’s work comes through referrals from some of the largest insurance companies in the United States.
“We’re very proud of that because in order to be an approved vendor for an insurance company, you have to perform to a certain standard consistently, so they are comfortable referring you job after job,” Dyroff says.
QFB is even called upon as an expert witness in cases where a dubious restoration company submitted an inflated invoice.
“We’re trying to save our industry’s reputation,” Dyroff says. “QFB has always stood behind ethical standards in this business, and honestly, it has proven to be a smart stance since year after year we continue to obtain new clients that value a company that does the job right the first time.”
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