Supplement Like a Pro

Tips for Success as an Insurance Restoration Contractor

Carol J. Alexander, Writer
Reading Time: 5 minutes
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Is your business slow due to the coronavirus? If you’re trying to bring in business by working inbound leads from your social media and website, or ramping up your email marketing campaigns, there is another way — add insurance work to your toolbox.

How Supplementing Can Help Your Business

Since the onset of the pandemic, some homeowners have been cautious about spending money on non-urgent remodels or room additions that might expose them to the coronavirus. But when storm damage occurs or a roof springs a leak and their insurance will cover repairs, calls start coming in.

If you’ve shied away from doing insurance work because of the red tape involved and the potential for slow and low compensation, now’s a good time to get over that hurdle. Simply saying yes to insurance claims customers isn’t the only step, however. According to John Dye, director of marketing for Balance Claims and founder of Art of the Supplement, you need to learn about and understand all the nuances of submitting claims so you can get paid for all the work you do.

How the Insurance Process Works

As a seasoned roofing contractor, you know the drill. A homeowner experiences roof damage and calls his/her insurance carrier, which sends an adjuster to the home to assess the damages. The adjuster writes an estimate of damages, outlining what the carrier will pay for and how much.

However, as you’ve probably seen, new or inexperienced adjusters sometimes rely too heavily on their book knowledge or software. Other times, roofing philosophies differ. In such cases, even experienced adjusters leave items off an estimate because they don’t deem them necessary.

According to Dye, when an adjuster adheres that closely to the company’s guidelines and the confines of the estimating software, some of the work can go unpaid.

“What happens,” Dye says, “is the roofer does a lot of work for free.”

But that’s no reason to shy away from taking insurance claims customers. Understanding the insurers’ strategy and having a plan that includes implementing your own strategy will ensure you get paid.

Dye says if contractors rewrite the estimate and supplement with line items, documentation and lots of photographs, they can offer the insurance carrier proof of the job's complexity and get paid for all the work they do.

“The burden of proof falls on the contractor,” Dye explains.

Because adjusters work under time constraints and have to fit many estimates into a day’s work using templated estimates generated by their component-based software, “carriers systematically leave money on the table,” he says.

Your plan should include learning how to support those claims when necessary.

How This Looks in Real Life

To help understand the process, Dye gives an example of waste factors. He says that adjusters use the same generic waste factors for every job. For instance, maybe they include a 12% waste factor for a simple hip roof and a 15% waste factor for a complex hip roof. But they don’t include the cost of the ridge cap and the starter shingles. Those items automatically get allocated to the waste factor because they expect roofers to cut them from the extra bundles of field shingles.

However, in reality, the ridge cap and starter shingles are manufactured differently from field shingles, especially architectural or laminate styles, and do not respond in the same way. The cost is not the same, either. So, he says, they should be included as separate line items in the estimate.

“[At Balance Claims,] we pull engineer waste reports that give the actual waste numbers for those ridge caps and starter shingles and include them as separate line items,” he explains.

This research shows the insurance carrier that the job will cost more money to complete than its adjuster’s estimate. He says this kind of data wasn’t available to contractors several years ago but using it now helps them to legitimize their supplements.

Dye also recommends that you include a lot of photographs. Take pictures of the valley lining full of nail holes, the drip edge that you need to remove or whatever else they left off their estimate. Attach the photographs with your documentation to prove you need to replace these items to do a proper job.

How Art of the Supplement Helps Contractors

As someone who’s grown up in the roofing business and as a former insurance adjuster, Dye knows both sides of the business. Using his firsthand knowledge of the struggles roofing contractors face, he started Art of the Supplement (AOTS) in 2018. He designed the course to teach roofing contractors how the insurance process works and the steps to take to better position their companies for success as insurance restoration contractors.

“We show contractors how to look at their jobs through the eyes of an insurance adjuster,” he says. “Contractors don’t speak insurance and insurance carriers don’t speak construction. So we help them understand each other.”

AOTS does this two ways. First, it offers an intensive one-day Supplement Bootcamp specifically designed to train roofing sales professionals how to quickly and easily supplement claims. The strategies learned in the bootcamp show contractors how to bill for incurred costs.

“It’s work they were already doing,” Dye says, “just not getting paid for.”

For roofing professionals who want something more in-depth, AOTS offers a four-week Supplement Masterclass. Held virtually, this class meets twice a week for four weeks. It includes a more hands-on learning experience working on actual claims. Those who finish this course earn the title Certified Supplement Claims Master.

“[In today's economic climate], a roofer's numbers matter more than ever,” Dye says. “Without supplementing their estimates, they’re leaving half the profits in the insurance carrier’s bank account.”

Don’t spend the rest of 2020 wringing your hands. Supplement your business with insurance restoration work. Properly done, the Art of the Supplement way, it can position your company for success through the predicted economic downturn and beyond.