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You’re Kidding – I Have to Know How to Do What?
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Minnesota Community Living January/February 2011

You’re Kidding – I Have to Know How to Do What?

By Tosh Tricas, American Building Contractors Inc. ABC

You get up and start your day, which in this case requires you to scrape the ice off of your windshield and then hope your car starts! You arrive at your cube and just like most any other, day you have 15 voicemails and 55 emails to answer. I know I know, you have twice as many emails and voicemails on any given morning. Then it happens. You get a call from Mr. Jones at Anywhere Association who says he sees a lot of condensation on the neighbors windows and water pouring out from under the garage door and freezing in the drive. You’re kidding. Not with everything you have to do, from coding your bills, prepping your board packs, getting your action item list completed, finishing your budgets, and on and on and on. You don’t have time for this.... Do you know what you need to do next? Do you call your insurance agent? Do you get the service department to check it out? Do you call the board to let them know? I mean what first? We have studied the CAI Risk Management publication as well as the CAI Insurance publication resulting in what we believe to be an outstanding job recommending the right type of insurance coverage and risk control. Now what?

Let’s assume that we have the board’s permission to act on the association’s behalf. I will give you what I believe are the steps that should be taken in this hypothetical scenario. Being mindful that there are other ways to skin a cat, and we can argue process all day long. Bottom line, get the association made whole as soon as possible.

1. If the unit is the association’s responsibility start remediation as soon as possible. "Meaning” mitigate additional damage from taking place as soon as possible
a. Who will you call?
b. How will you access the unit?
c. What will be done before the adjuster comes out?

2. Call your insurance company and submit a claim. I know you have their number handy. They will want some information about the event and your next steps
a. Date and time you were notified of the event?
b. What steps you are taking?
c. Names and numbers of contacts for this project. 
d. Schedule an adjuster to call you ASAP. (Just a side note, require your vendor to meet with the adjuster on site to settle the claim as soon as possible. Never allow the adjuster to go to the site alone if possible.)
f. Get your insurance company contact e-mail address and follow up with them by noting all the information that was exchanged over the phone.

3. Notify your Board;
a. Call the Board President and let him/her know what is going on and what steps you have taken
b. Follow up with an e-mail to the rest of the Board to keep them in the loop.
c. Require your vendor to update you and in turn, update the Board.

4. Contact surrounding unit owners and
a. Have them check to see if they have incurred any damage.
b. Have them continue to monitor their adjoining walls because the damage might take a while to appear
c. Encourage them to immediately notify you of any changes

5. Notify your Supervisor of the
a. Same stuff you told your Insurance company 
b. Stuff you told your Boards
c. Same stuff you told the surrounding neighbors

I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired, and you have not even started to manage the reconstruction process…

Here is where the real work begins.

6. Does your office have approved vendors?
a. Vetted out by the higher ups and put on a list?
b. Who You Gonna Call? Ghost Busters… sorry I couldn’t help myself. Really, who are you going to call?
c. Is now a good time to be test driving a vendor? (I hope not)
d. Insurance? Do they have it? Is it up to date?
e. Whoever you use, make sure they are not going to make your job harder than it already is.
f. Encourage your vendor to give their cell numbers out to Board Members as well as to you.

7. Make sure the Vendor meets with you and Board Members (encourage Board Members to attend so you do not have to repeat the meeting info)
a. Write an agenda even if it is one line. This way you will know what you want to ask, and it will keep the meeting on task.
b. Make an Action Items List when necessary and assign tasks and timelines for their completion
c. Make sure the Board representative signs binding contracts whenever possible
d. Get a list of any contact names and numbers at the meeting and immediately distribute it.

8. The process is under way
a. Make sure your vendor is posting areas and buildings when necessary for parking, storage and safety.
b. Make sure your vendor will communicate the need to block a street or block areas before they need to.
c. Make sure all parties that need to be satisfied approve of workmanship before payments are made.
d. Make sure the Board approves the payment.

9. Close out the job
a. Final inspections completed.
b. Homeowners are happy (when applicable).
c. Boards are happy.
d. Final payments are audited.
e. Final check is received from Insurance Company before you make final payment.
f. Don’t forget the deductable…

There are dozens of steps that can be added above. I have been in this industry for upwards of twenty years, and as a PCAM I can tell you that if you get five professionals in a room we could add things and move the steps around until the cows come home. My point is merely "Do you have the experience or time to successfully manage an insurance claim?” If not, take my advice and don’t hope that you can pull it off as an OJT process. What if your first claim is a million dollars or more? I was involved with an insurance claim that exceeded $12mil and let me tell you, if I had not had years of experience before the claim I wouldn’t have known where to start.

It may be time to establish a written process within your organization to assist with insurance claims management.

Time to go now; I don’t have an auto starter like some of you so my real concern right now is…

Where did I leave my window scraper?

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