Business Smarts: Working with Independent Damage Appraisal Firms - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Business Smarts: Working with Independent Damage Appraisal Firms

Natural disasters are inevitable and are one of the many reasons a homeowner may need to deal with an insurance company.

In a situation where homeowners need landscaping services to remove downed trees, repair hardscapes or other restoration projects, dealing with insurance companies to resolve claims can be a twisted and frustrating process.

“When a homeowner has damage from a natural disaster, they would just instinctively contact a landscaper to correct the damage but if it’s a high enough cost that is worthy of submitting a claim with your insurance company, then they would contact their insurance company first,” says Tanya Pulliam, assistant vice president of marketing for Property Damage Appraisers (PDA).

Landscape professionals should encourage consumers to utilize the coverage of their insurance policy whenever necessary.

Whether the damage is from a tornado, hurricane, hail or wildfire, the limited bandwidth and availability of insurance carriers to appraise a property can slow down the claims process significantly.

“Insurance companies in the middle of a catastrophe situation are really backlogged and it could take days or weeks or months even to wrap up that process for an insured,” Pulliam says. “And part of that is because these insurance carriers just don’t have the bandwidth to be boots on the ground in the middle of a hurricane at every single home that was impacted.”

This is where companies like PDA can come in and assist with the leg of the insurance process. PDA is the largest independent appraisal company that works with all the major insurance companies. They have a national team of more than 650 local appraisers in more than 250 offices.

Their team can come in, assesses the damage based on their knowledge and expertise and can submit a formal appraisal in writing to the insurance company. The insurance company’s adjuster would read through PDA’s analysis and provide the remaining layers of the adjustment process.

If the insured files a claim and it’s approved, then the fee would be part of their policy and deductible. If it’s not approved, it’s the responsibility of the homeowner to pay PDA for services rendered.

Working with an independent damage appraisal firm can also be helpful for landscape professionals if they accidentally damage something on a customer’s property.

“If they have caused any sort of damage, we can work with them directly to determine the value of that damage to avoid claims being filed,” Pulliam says.

Rather than having to file an insurance claim, a landscaping company can call an independent appraiser like PDA to give them an estimate of the cost of those damages. This type of firm serves as an impartial third party.

“The landscaper can say, ‘Hello Mr. and Mrs. Smith, this is how much the damage is that we caused to your vehicle and we’re happy to just write you a check to cover that damage,’” Pulliam says. “Then they can just close the process right then instead of having to go through all of the additional legwork and paperwork and weeks of waiting for insurance to cover it.”

PDA offers same-day service so a landscape company can get an appraiser out that same day if there is an accident and they want to pay the customer quickly. The fee is based on the appraisal amount and same-day and next-day services will cost a little bit more.

“It really helps with that relationship building and then you’re going to garner a better response from that homeowner,” Pulliam says. “The word of mouth doesn’t break at that point. They’re going to continue to praise you for being proactive.”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.