The Insurance Company you work for has built a reputation of honor and reliability and continues to spend a great deal of effort and treasure to maintain and further this public perception. You do your best to perform your work conscientiously, keeping the best interests of your employer in mind and would do nothing intentionally to damage your employer’s reputation by short-changing your policyholders.
Your job in adjusting a claim is to make the claimant whole after a casualty by returning their property to the condition prevailing prior to the event, or if that isn’t possible to compensate them according to the terms of their policy.
Fire and flood claims are made up of numerous different physical items, some structural, others related to personal property. For reconstruction you will use a general contractor and check their quote against a current RS Means Construction Estimate Guide, the standard of the industry.
For personal property that isn’t replaced, you employ a variety of specialists who have the expertise to perform the needed tasks. A clean-up contractor to handle the general contents, a dry-cleaner for clothing, experienced specialists for cleaning upholstered items, oriental carpets, fabric wallpaper, murals, faux painting, antique furniture, computer equipment, family photographs and albums, paintings, sculpture, art glass, collections, etc., etc.,
An experienced clean-up contractor is worth his weight in gold, he can be an adjuster’s best asset and secret weapon. He will be aware of the limits of expertise that his employees can provide and will refer items that require specialized handling to firms which have the needed knowledge to provide this extra level of care.
Less experienced clean-up contractors will tackle just about anything and while they may have the best of intentions, invariably they will cause damage because they are unaware of what they don’t know. Using such service providers can be problematic and dangerous for an Insurance company. Inappropriate treatment will result in irreparable damage and result in additional liability and expense for the insurer.
Similarly, hiring firms to provide estimates without checking their credentials and using their quotes as the benchmark for settling a claim is both unfair and unethical. An adjuster cannot claim ignorance and a use the desire to save money for his employer as justification for shortchanging an insured. The figure does not compensate the insured for the true cost of returning their possessions to pre-casualty condition, therefore it cannot be considered as full compensation according to the policy.
There are different degrees of preparedness for any task. The janitorial staff at a museum are never the same people who clean and maintain the collection. Paper towels and Windex are not the proper way to care for the Mona Lisa.
Fortunately, for the field of restoration for works of art and historical objects, there is a directory of qualified and peer reviewed service providers maintained by the American Institute for Conservation.
The Directory is searchable by geographic location and field of specialization. All individuals listed operate in accordance with the Code of Ethics of the AIC and provide state of the art services to Museums, collectors, Insurance Companies, dealers and consumers. One must question why any qualified service provider would not be listed in this Directory and conversely, if they aren’t listed, are they qualified?
Ask yourself if in case of litigation, would you be able to justify using someone not on this National List, or the figures provided by such an individual, as a meaningful benchmark?