If there is a question that I get asked the most from a homeowner or policyholder, it is this one: “When can we move back in?”
Naturally, the greatest therapy or pain medication for a large traumatic loss is returning to normal again. Either back to business or creating new family memories becomes the distant dream and focus.
When a large loss occurs, the clock starts ticking. The short answer to the million-dollar question is typically one year for standard size losses. If a property loss is uniquely large, either residential or commercial, it certainly may take longer.
Factors that can delay or naturally impact a timeline include:
- Engineer reporting for estimating
- Scope creation extended
- Waiting on contractor estimates
- Adjuster’s lack of prioritizing and processing estimates to the insurer or reporting to the insured
- Legal review and arbitration of claim compensation terms
- Extended decision timeline of how to repair or rebuild based on the budget provided
- Contractor delay in pre-planning or designing
- Site conditions requiring intervention, environmental attention, or code/survey upgrading
- Multiple or co-owner disagreements on proceeding plans
- Permit delays
- Weather limitations impacting site conditions
- Lender/Mortgage delay in the release of funds or payments
- Product supply delays during the construction phase
- Disagreements and conflict between contractor and policyholder
- Final inspection issues prior to occupancy
Any of the items noted above can absorb several months out of a typical claim schedule process.
As a policyholder, there are certain aspects of the claim that you can be assertive with. These efforts will inevitably help minimize delays and see you reach occupancy as soon as possible:
- Follow up continuously with your adjuster (email keeps things on the record and accountable).
- Make yourself available for all meetings with contractors or the adjuster.
- Begin to envision a new design or rebuild considerations.
- Capture ideas, colours, finishes, features and document them for upcoming use with the contractor.
- Keep in close contact with your lender if a mortgage is still in place.
- Monitor all payments and movement of funds.
- Ensure the contractor agreement or contract is solid and free of any unknowns.
- Stay ahead of the content ordering process, so moving in and installing appliances is feasible during the construction phase.
- Maintain open communication with other owners, family members, or partners related to the ownership of the property.
Often three to six months of a one-year time period is consumed with pre-planning, claim processing for filing and general administration prep. All the policy checks are done along with any legal or criminal review on causation. When all the boxes are checked off, the project’s actual build will typically take six months for most average size losses.
In summary, effective communication and information processing is the most critical element of keeping the claim moving efficiently. This directly impacts the “return to home” efforts and getting back to a routine. Whatever all parties can do to facilitate a high level of communication will significantly prevent delays and subsequent frustration.