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What to do next if you have major damage

Old 09-12-2017, 03:14 PM
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Default What to do next if you have major damage

A few members and I have been PM about what we might do next. To be honest right now I am in a fog and have not figured my next move yet. I thought it might be a good idea to have a spot that pertains to Florida people as our rules might be different from other states.

Post your experience's if you have been through this before, or if you have ideas and a plan of action in place. I have all 3 insurances so I feel luckier than others.
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Old 09-12-2017, 03:24 PM
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Start claim process to get on list. It may take some time for adjuster to get there so sooner the better. Only do this with the insurance that you need (ie. water intrusion = flood, roof off = wind, etc.)
Document damage with pictures and video. Document, document, document.

Start inventory of losses.
Start getting estimates to fix.
Do what you need to prevent future damage now and save receipts.

Keep a log of all calls, emails, etc. with who you spoke to, dates, and other info.

It can be a long process but the more you can help the adjuster the quicker the claim will be processed.
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Old 09-12-2017, 03:31 PM
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I Flooded in Aug 2016 in Louisiana.
It has been a nightmare and I too had insurance.
One year later and I'm still not completely finished with reconstruction of my home.

Info I can give based on my experiences:
  1. Get a Nice Binder and ledger
  2. Get copies of all your insurance papers
  3. take notes of each and every phone call with the persons name and extension
  4. If you have a mortgage - Call them and get THEIR procedures for filing loss claim - EVERY bank is different and USBank is the worst I've heard of
  5. Don't count on much help from all of the long lines at FEMA.
  6. Fema helps mostly if your didn't have insurance
  7. The SBA Small Business Association will offer you a low interest loan. This sounds good until fine print of they deduct any insurance payments from amounts and anything over $25K you'll be adding them to your mortgage title.
  8. There will be 1000's of crappy contractors show up to help. Only hire who you or a reference knows
  9. Ignore the people who want to dry out your house and give you a "Mold" certificate. You can do this yourself or hire ServPro
  10. It was over 4 months after initial insurance adjuster came before I got an estimate. They will tell you 2-3 weeks.

Take photos of all appliance Model & Serial numbers.
You'll have to stop people from rummaging through your trash until adjuster visits.
If you have contents coverage and you flooded - record every item you claim damaged with photos, and value (everything will be depreciated)
If you have varying damages (Wind, hail, - Storm related, and flood - expect all adjusters to finger point on who covers what)


At the end of all this you'll end up with a remodeled house and know that if it happens again you'll walk away from the reconstruction part. I know I will.
I'll subscribe to this and try and help you with my experiences.
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Old 09-12-2017, 03:47 PM
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My neighbors from Biloxi got about $400 in FEMA aid. The folks in section 8 housing got thousands. Even though they didn't pay taxes

Based on their experience. Do not hold your breath for FEMA outlays. Or for it to be fair and equitable.
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Old 09-12-2017, 06:14 PM
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in laws have flood insurance but tear out was on them
get fridge out first and take pictures
we started taking pictures as we pulled stuff out but it might be easier to do it after when its all pulled out
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Old 09-12-2017, 06:23 PM
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Take pictures of absolutely everything and keep a written inventory. Fight, fight, fight, against all of their offers. I believe my parents hired their own adjuster to negotiate with the insurance company. They had flood insurance but were nowhere near made whole (this pertains to sandy). When they started to pro-rate paint, drywall, etc, try not to take it personal. Lastly, many people we know (parents included) hadany things excluded from coverage since they were in a garage or basement as the insurance apparently covered only items in the defined "living space".
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by R1ckyBobby View Post
in laws have flood insurance but tear out was on them
I did not know that, so if you are disabled you have to pay out of pocket?
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:15 PM
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In Sandy, using outfits like ServPro to do rip out and cleanup was a ripoff. Seeing the quotes people were getting, I just ripped out my own sheetrock and carpet with my BIL. Some people went to Home Depot and picked up a day laborer or two.

Around here, a lot of people started paying for their own dumpsters. Others just dumped crap in the street. Before long the local government realized it needed to have dumpsters put around and hire bucket loaders and trucks to pick everything up from the curb - whatever the scrap vultures didn't take. Point being, if you paid for a dumpster only to have one placed that your taxes paid for, you'd be pissed. I would up with a 4 foot wall in front of my entire property - trash bags full of rock and insulation, dead appliances, rolled up carpet, and whatever junk was in the attic that I'd been meaning to get rid of. They took it all.

Also you might get a visit from some EPA people. They'll tell you about a pickup of hazardous waste. Those old paint cans, shot boat batteries, waste oil, and bags of fertilizer you meant to get rid of? You're paying for this, and others will use them, so you may as well. Yes there are other ways to get rid of such items, but you have other headaches right now. So on the curb it goes.

Be careful about SBA loans. After Sandy the immediate advice was apply to FEMA aid and SBA. OK. By the time SBA told me what they would give me, I had decided I wouldn't need that since Flood would likely cover me well enough, and canceled the loan app. Others took the money, then NY Rising came out, and they found out SBA loans are "aid" even though you have to pay it back - and it reduced the amount of free money they got from NY Rising since any aid is subtracted. Are you guys going to get free money? BTSOM. You may need a crystal ball on some of these things.

With FEMA, if you have homeowners and flood, the guy will come and take your life story (even though you already entered your life story on their website), then you'll get a denial letter because your insurance theoretically covers you. When you find out what insurance will and won't pay for, then you appeal that denial. You may get some bucks out of them. No reason not to try. I got a few bucks toward my roof job, since my HO policy had a large windstorm deductible and wouldn't pay me.

Just keep in mind, FEMA deals in minimal repairs to make your house livable, not to put it back the way it was. They are not an insurance company. If you are missing shingles all over your roof, you'll probably want a tearoff and a new roof. To FEMA, you just need a guy to go up and shove some new shingles in there to replace the missing ones. So you'll be thinking $3000 and they'll be thinking $300.

Also be very clear with FEMA about your living arrangements. If your house is unlivable and you have to pay to live elsewhere, you can get a decent sum for temporary housing. Just be honest about it, because if you play any games, well, some people go to jail for that, and some find the funds clawed back years later when they don't have them anymore. It's got to be your primary residence and you claim for people who actually live with you. I just noticed OP lists "Wisconsin and Marathon". If FL is a second home, don't bother with FEMA.
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:25 PM
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Start the claim by calling it in. After that hand it over to an insurance consultant. Yes you will give them a percentage but more than likely they will pick it up for you in extra insurance compensation. The process will be easier, cleaner and expedited. And No I'm not an insurance consultant.
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:27 PM
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Yea get the government to loan you the money you have paid to them in taxes and charge you interest to borrow your own money. Its a shame we have went to this in our country
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Old 09-14-2017, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by R1ckyBobby View Post
in laws have flood insurance but tear out was on them
get fridge out first and take pictures
we started taking pictures as we pulled stuff out but it might be easier to do it after when its all pulled out
I was paid for my tear out, I hired a local contractor to tear out my house and carry damaged stuff to roadside. This I could have done myself but I had just finished 5 family members tearout that did not have insurance and I couldn't lift a hammer after those 8 days of sun up to sun down work. (reminder I'm an engineering manager). Clear out all food items out of freezers and refrigerators and put in old ice chests and tape up. The worst call I got was the adjuster wanted a picture of serial/model number located inside of freezer portion 4 months after sitting in yard in 100 degree weather.

I have no idea of your financial situation - but I would recommend having house tore out to studs if flooded and put up for sell and move. Halfway thru this process last year most of my family members regretted trying to rebuild. I live on 30 acres of family land so I'm staying and I upgraded everything in my entire house so I'll be happy once done.

Once you realize not to get in a hurry your health and mind will feel better. My prayers to you and your family during this trying time.
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Old 09-14-2017, 01:02 PM
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This is good stuff guys. Please keep it coming.
I have never been through this process before so have no clue.
I guess I really can't do much other than gather supplies and policies until they let us back in to see it in person.
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Old 09-14-2017, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by LongJohnSilver View Post
This is good stuff guys. Please keep it coming.
I have never been through this process before so have no clue.
I guess I really can't do much other than gather supplies and policies until they let us back in to see it in person.
I am in the same boat. I don't have a clue. I will tell you we will learn very quick in the next week.
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Old 09-14-2017, 02:09 PM
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About mold prevention. Once walls are opened up, there are two things you must do:

1 - spray lots of bleach
2 - never under any circumstances use any bleach

I went with the camp #2. I used this stuff
http://www.concrobium.com/products/c...d-control-jug/ in a garden sprayer.

No mold problems after 5 years. I know some who used bleach and they have no complaints either.

Do dry it up as fast as you can. Get wet stuff out, run A/C or dehumidifiers and fans, whatever you've got.
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Old 09-14-2017, 03:41 PM
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I run a restoration company and do this day in, day out for a living. I've worked both Andrew and Charley and we're swamped now after Irma. The time to act is now and time is not on your side. For starters, as others have mentioned, get a binder with all your policies and document all calls including date, time and who you spoke with. The more specific and detailed you are, the. more credibility you have. If you can, print all email conversations as well and put in the binder or make a new inbox folder to move them to so you can find them easier and print them later when you have utilities.

Time to get to work- start by taking pictures of everything. First, take pictures of all 4 walls in a room. Then zero in on all the details including serial/model numbers on appliances and electronics. You will be dealing with 2 different issues, contents and structure. Also, were the items damaged as a result of water intrusion or rising water. In addition to your pictures, make inventory sheets separated by flood or intrusion- they are separate policies. Appliances that rest on the floor are considered ruined if they flooded but not necessarily if they got rained on after the roof came off. Don't dispose of electronics or appliances that weren't flooded, you will need to prove they don't work.

Demolition- the biggest problem you have now is that even if a professional could assist you with drying equipment, you probably have no power to run them. All soft goods need to go now before they get moldy. Carpets, drywall, insulation, trim, cabinets need to go. Soft goods like mattresses, upholstered furniture, drapes etc need to go. All of these items will mold quickly and you only have $10k coverage for that. If you get it out soon enough, you can cut down on that. If you don't have power, don't waste your time trying to cut out walls 4 feet high- you will eventually have to throw it out do the mold that will grow quickly. Your flood insurance is only going to want to pay for 4 feet up unless the whole wall was wet. They are not going to want to pay for uppers to match unless the water went that high.
This is where your homeowners insurance will owe for the difference. Look for any sign of mold or water damage on things above 4 feet, take your pictures and get it out of there.

You are most likely to come up short on flood insurance as they depreciate. It is what it is, flood "insurance" really isn't insurance, it's a government program to assist. There is no replacement cost option like homeowners insurance. The biggest expense you are going to encounter is from the mold and the longer it goes the worse it gets, possibly even to the point of making rebuilding your home impracticable. Your homeowner insurance protects you against "water damage". If its wet, document and get it out. Hard furniture can be possibly saved so don't toss just yet, particle board is toast-picture and toss.

Don't remove electrical or ductwork. You need an a/c contractor to pull air handlers, don't just cut a Freon line and room or it could mean big trouble. Just tear out what you can get to. Once you complete the demo, take a pump sprayer and hose everything with a solution of 10% bleach and water. Make sure you use eye and respiratory protection. To be honest, you don't need a contractor such as myself to do the demo-save yourself the money, you're going to need it later. You will need somebody like me to set drying equipment and spray again once the power comes back on.

Proper drying and mold remediation are critical. Many people I've run into failed to address this after Charley and got hammered down the road when they went to sell the home. There's no way to hide the loss, you must disclose and everybody knows anyway. Home inspections these days include a half ass mold inspection by a home inspector who doesn't know what he's doing and he'll take an air sample that will almost always come back positive. He's not a hygienist, he merely sends samples to lab and can't interpret the results. THIS WILL NOT BE COVERED BY INSURANCE YEARS LATER, ADDRESS IT NOW. Before you start with rebuilding, hire a LICENSED HYGENIST TO TEST. State law prohibits a company from testing and remediating-insist on an independent hygienist. If mold is present, now is the time to address with a professional remediation company.

Once its time to rebuild, find a good restoration contractor to do all the work for you. Don't try to do the insurance companies work by getting 3 bids for everything, you will always be stuck with the lowest bid for each trade and trying to coordinate them with no previous relationship will be difficult to impossible. That's what you're paying a contractor for. Yes he will make a profit as he should, but he'll make your life easier. Also, restoration contractors write their estimates in the same program as adjusters and it makes it much easier to negotiate. This contractor may even have a previous working relationship with that adjuster which helps a lot also.

Pricing reconstruction after a storm is hard enough, I imagine the keys is going to be a nightmare but material shortages and transportation costs for everything being shipped from Miami. In most cases, a good restoration contractor can work out these differences with your adjuster. Let him do the negotiating for you, its in his best interest to get enough money to do the job properly. Personally, if I can't get the money to do the job right, I'll tell you. Most insurance companies don't want to deal with public adjusters, they really want to close your file. They hate PA's for good reason, many of them are crooks who try to get a claim to 110% of the actual loss and will make things up to get the extra money.

If your contractor can't work out a fair price,that is the time to consult a public adjuster, not in the beginning. He's going to take 10% on what he gets you. Don't give him 10% on the whole job. The sad fact is that most policies in the keys are going to be from Citizens or some of the recent take out companies. Most of them are not user friendly at best, some of them are criminal. Don't settle, be patient. Don't hire the PA who comes knocking on your door soliciting= he's a clown. I've already had 3 PA;s call me asking if I want to make a lot of money. Find one who is fair and can negotiate, stay away from those who want to go to court or lawyers for that matter as fees will end up eating away at your settlement. Let your contractor do most of the work for you and let him know you want him to do the work, you just need time. If you have the cash, hire him now and work out the details later- the line for repairs is growing by the day.

Finally, I love the keys. My dad was in the Navy at Key West in the 60's and I've been going back once or twice a year since then. I was scheduled to be in Key Colony Saturday which obviously won't happen now and hoping to get my money back. If anybody needs specific questions answered, post them and I'll try to get back to you in 24 hours. I'm in SW Florida and pretty busy with storm damage myself but I'm happy to give some professional insight.
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Old 09-14-2017, 03:58 PM
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jbnport thanks so much for the great advice. What I am fearing now is not being able by law to even get to our home, recent rumors are saying possibly 30 days. So if it does come to that so much for acting quickly.
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Old 09-14-2017, 04:35 PM
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Were you ground level or on stilts? Are you fearing flood or wind/water damage? Shingle or metal roofs? if you look at the pictures, the difference between the 2 are stunning.
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Old 09-14-2017, 04:57 PM
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Ground level CBS with two newer layers of rolled roof. The house was built in 1958 and we were slowly redoing it. My house is still standing and it appears to still have the roof. I know I have wind damage and I am sure water storm surge damage. We were ocean side.
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Old 09-15-2017, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by jbnport View Post
I run a restoration company and do this day in, day out for a living. I've worked both Andrew and Charley and we're swamped now after Irma. The time to act is now and time is not on your side. For starters, as others have mentioned, get a binder with all your policies and document all calls including date, time and who you spoke with. The more specific and detailed you are, the. more credibility you have. If you can, print all email conversations as well and put in the binder or make a new inbox folder to move them to so you can find them easier and print them later when you have utilities.

Time to get to work- start by taking pictures of everything. First, take pictures of all 4 walls in a room. Then zero in on all the details including serial/model numbers on appliances and electronics. You will be dealing with 2 different issues, contents and structure. Also, were the items damaged as a result of water intrusion or rising water. In addition to your pictures, make inventory sheets separated by flood or intrusion- they are separate policies. Appliances that rest on the floor are considered ruined if they flooded but not necessarily if they got rained on after the roof came off. Don't dispose of electronics or appliances that weren't flooded, you will need to prove they don't work.

Demolition- the biggest problem you have now is that even if a professional could assist you with drying equipment, you probably have no power to run them. All soft goods need to go now before they get moldy. Carpets, drywall, insulation, trim, cabinets need to go. Soft goods like mattresses, upholstered furniture, drapes etc need to go. All of these items will mold quickly and you only have $10k coverage for that. If you get it out soon enough, you can cut down on that. If you don't have power, don't waste your time trying to cut out walls 4 feet high- you will eventually have to throw it out do the mold that will grow quickly. Your flood insurance is only going to want to pay for 4 feet up unless the whole wall was wet. They are not going to want to pay for uppers to match unless the water went that high.
This is where your homeowners insurance will owe for the difference. Look for any sign of mold or water damage on things above 4 feet, take your pictures and get it out of there.

You are most likely to come up short on flood insurance as they depreciate. It is what it is, flood "insurance" really isn't insurance, it's a government program to assist. There is no replacement cost option like homeowners insurance. The biggest expense you are going to encounter is from the mold and the longer it goes the worse it gets, possibly even to the point of making rebuilding your home impracticable. Your homeowner insurance protects you against "water damage". If its wet, document and get it out. Hard furniture can be possibly saved so don't toss just yet, particle board is toast-picture and toss.

Don't remove electrical or ductwork. You need an a/c contractor to pull air handlers, don't just cut a Freon line and room or it could mean big trouble. Just tear out what you can get to. Once you complete the demo, take a pump sprayer and hose everything with a solution of 10% bleach and water. Make sure you use eye and respiratory protection. To be honest, you don't need a contractor such as myself to do the demo-save yourself the money, you're going to need it later. You will need somebody like me to set drying equipment and spray again once the power comes back on.

Proper drying and mold remediation are critical. Many people I've run into failed to address this after Charley and got hammered down the road when they went to sell the home. There's no way to hide the loss, you must disclose and everybody knows anyway. Home inspections these days include a half ass mold inspection by a home inspector who doesn't know what he's doing and he'll take an air sample that will almost always come back positive. He's not a hygienist, he merely sends samples to lab and can't interpret the results. THIS WILL NOT BE COVERED BY INSURANCE YEARS LATER, ADDRESS IT NOW. Before you start with rebuilding, hire a LICENSED HYGENIST TO TEST. State law prohibits a company from testing and remediating-insist on an independent hygienist. If mold is present, now is the time to address with a professional remediation company.

Once its time to rebuild, find a good restoration contractor to do all the work for you. Don't try to do the insurance companies work by getting 3 bids for everything, you will always be stuck with the lowest bid for each trade and trying to coordinate them with no previous relationship will be difficult to impossible. That's what you're paying a contractor for. Yes he will make a profit as he should, but he'll make your life easier. Also, restoration contractors write their estimates in the same program as adjusters and it makes it much easier to negotiate. This contractor may even have a previous working relationship with that adjuster which helps a lot also.

Pricing reconstruction after a storm is hard enough, I imagine the keys is going to be a nightmare but material shortages and transportation costs for everything being shipped from Miami. In most cases, a good restoration contractor can work out these differences with your adjuster. Let him do the negotiating for you, its in his best interest to get enough money to do the job properly. Personally, if I can't get the money to do the job right, I'll tell you. Most insurance companies don't want to deal with public adjusters, they really want to close your file. They hate PA's for good reason, many of them are crooks who try to get a claim to 110% of the actual loss and will make things up to get the extra money.

If your contractor can't work out a fair price,that is the time to consult a public adjuster, not in the beginning. He's going to take 10% on what he gets you. Don't give him 10% on the whole job. The sad fact is that most policies in the keys are going to be from Citizens or some of the recent take out companies. Most of them are not user friendly at best, some of them are criminal. Don't settle, be patient. Don't hire the PA who comes knocking on your door soliciting= he's a clown. I've already had 3 PA;s call me asking if I want to make a lot of money. Find one who is fair and can negotiate, stay away from those who want to go to court or lawyers for that matter as fees will end up eating away at your settlement. Let your contractor do most of the work for you and let him know you want him to do the work, you just need time. If you have the cash, hire him now and work out the details later- the line for repairs is growing by the day.

Finally, I love the keys. My dad was in the Navy at Key West in the 60's and I've been going back once or twice a year since then. I was scheduled to be in Key Colony Saturday which obviously won't happen now and hoping to get my money back. If anybody needs specific questions answered, post them and I'll try to get back to you in 24 hours. I'm in SW Florida and pretty busy with storm damage myself but I'm happy to give some professional insight.

Good advice overall.

Something else to have in mind, insurance companies will not make you whole again. They will offer you much less than your claim is worth. Do not settle right away. At the end of the day, you will need an attorney to fight for your rights.
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Old 09-15-2017, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by istriker22 View Post
Good advice overall.

Something else to have in mind, insurance companies will not make you whole again. They will offer you much less than your claim is worth. Do not settle right away. At the end of the day, you will need an attorney to fight for your rights.
It's your duty to make the claim and prove your loss. People get this backwards and get butt hurt when they don't get paid out for the full policy limit.

Document your losses, feel free to get a contractor estimate. When the insurance adjuster shows up, walk with them and point out the damages. They will write an estimate for you to provide to the contractor of YOUR choice. If the contractor thinks the estimate is light, have them submit an estimate for the difference. They will negotiate and come to an agreement. Just like how most business transactions take place. Think about buying a home, car, boat etc. offer, counter, counter, settle. Sometimes it works first try, but usually not.

Remember the insurance company is there to make you whole again, not provide a full update of your home. If you house looks like it belongs in 1988 don't be surprised if you are out of pocket a little bit to bring it up to 2017 standards.
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