I went on a little rant tonight.  After re-reading what I wrote in an email to a prospective client, I decided this might have some value to ya’ll. So here goes.

We’ve had a major ice storm roll through and there are tens of thousands of homes with water damage.  I’ve been contacted by several homeowners who’ve recieved their insurance repair estimates and are getting worried.  Here’s one of them.

(Names have been redacted to protect the innocent)


“Hi Andy,

Thanks for the info.  I recall per our conversation the $XXX fee but do not recall your hourly rate for negotiations or changes with the insurance.  I am sure you are great what you do but I need to know what the total will cost me (even if rough estimate) and what I can expect with your results.  I know you can’t realistically answer that without inspecting my house and also knowing stance with insurance company.  There is also no recourse in your fee if you do not make any headway with insurance.  I hope you can appreciate my questions and concerns….I am always a little reluctant to sign on the dotted line with hourly rates and unknown results and timelines.  Feel free to call if easier to explain over the phone.”


I can appreciate your reluctance.  Most folks don’t understand why they need to pay for help, when it’s their insurance company who should be taking care of them. I get it.
I’ve also been in this industry for 18 years.  I know that insurance companies are not in the business of paying claims in full if they don’t have to.  Right now you don’t have the right tools to make them pay in full.
Do you expect your roof to perform next winter with some patched-in shingles?  Will your roofer guarantee that it won’t leak?  In my experience, no roofer will stand behind a patch job.
Were your gutters bent and dinged before this storm?  Just because they still hold water doesn’t mean they won’t affect your resale value.  New gutters are likely justified and covered by your policy.

I’m a busy guy with plenty to do.

I can only estimate as far as I can see.  Right now, I can see how much time it will take me to inspect your property and write up a proper estimate of repairs.
What I can’t see is whether [INSURANCE COMPANY] is going to play nice.  So there is no guarantee.  I can only tell you that in my experience, this claim is woefully deficient. You can’t know how deficient without an apples-to-apples comparison written in the same estimating program.
You pay for good information.
A Public Adjuster will want 15-25% and total control of your claim (and they don’t take projects under $250k).  A restoration contractor will want 35% and total control of the claim.
There is an entire industry of contractors who know the game and how to play it. That’s where I come from.  If you want to wait a month, you can probably get one of the local restoration companies to come write an estimate for you.  They’ll want the entire project in return.
What I’m offering is a realistic estimate for you to use to go back to [INSURANCE COMPANY] and get what you’re owed.  That’s all.  It’s a starting point.  I give you the ammunition and you’re not tied to anything longer term with me.  I should charge more for this service, but unfortunately most folks don’t see the value until AFTER.
I’m too busy to come out and take a look in order to provide a more accurate estimate of my ultimate charges.
There are hundreds of contractors in Bend that need my help right now.  Everyone thinks they know how insurance claims work, until they actually have to deal with one.  I can only work with folks who feel the need and see the value of my advice.
At the risk of giving away even more free advice, consider this.  You are going to hire a General Contractor to perform these repairs.  The standard markup in the insurance industry is 20% (10% Overhead + 10% Profit). O&P on your project is $3,008.73.  And [INSURANCE COMPANY] left it off because they are hoping you don’t know any better.
There. I just made you 3 Grand.  That one is on the house.
If you want to move forward with me, just fill out the link I sent and pay the deposit. If not, I’ll see you on the slopes some time.
Best of luck either way,

Also published on Medium.