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Insurance work

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  #1  
Old 01-20-2002, 05:33 AM
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Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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Insurance work

Jim Conway brought this up in another thread, and it sounded like an excellent topic to explore further.

Who here has experience working with insurance companies for disaster recovery? There are so many questions, I hardly know where to begin.

Who files? How? Does the work come from the owner, or the insurance company? What considerations are there? Any reference works on this topic?

Anyone care to lecture or at least start this dialog on this topic?
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Old 01-20-2002, 08:17 AM
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Ed_L Ed_L is offline
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When we had the home remodeling business, we worked with insurance companies frequently. Normally, the customer would file for the coverage, and a check was usually (although not always) made out to both the homeowner and our business name. This is usually done to insure that the work would actually be done, and done to a certain standard. It might be handled differently with the restoration business?

Ed
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Old 01-24-2002, 03:00 PM
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Jim Conway Jim Conway is offline
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Business or home insurance

Losses are usually covered up to $1,000 on homeowners without additional cost and up to the limits set by the coverage requested in business policies. It's primarily been used for "art" claims and although many photo restorers have never considered this a potential source of income, the work is readily available if you want to get involved.

A good starting point is to contact the companies in your area that are in the home restoration business that come in after flood damage and clean up carpeting, dry the place out, etc. None that I know of is the least bit interested in the photos and will welcome a source to refer the work to if you contact them.

The fun begins with the Claims Adjuster - some Companies I've found are great - Allstate for one - and others would think if the Mona Lisa went through a fire, it wouldn't be worth anything more than a new roll of film!

You have to have a bit of legal clout as well - or at least a good attorney that you can refer people to that can let them know what their rights are (based on the policy of course) ...for years the Insurers have gotten by with replacing old photos (regardless of value) with a new roll film even when the policy states replacement cost, so they are often reluctant to break precedent and need a little nudge in the right direction. Usually a phone call from a qualified attorney will suffice to up the settlement offers!

I'd be glad to provide a copy of the estimating forms that I've made up for the purpose to anyone who is a Retouch Pro, interested in this type of work and qualified to handle the assignments.

It's not a business without some pitfalls, I learned to charge 12% of the damage assessment up front after having several prospective clients use us to get their claims satisfied , then pocket the money and never having any work done. Guess that's common but, because I was acting in good faith, I had to learn it the hard away!

And a final thought here - "replacement in kind" doesn't mean an oil photo original from the 40's can be replaced with an inkjet copy. It's good business ...and will be unless or until the greedy (non-pros) get into it to capitalize on the inroads that we have made with the insurance industry to date.

Jim Conway
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Old 01-24-2002, 04:51 PM
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Jim, Do you carry any bonding or insurance to protect yourself and your business as related to the work you do as regards disaster recovery work or is that even necessary? Thanks, Tom
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Old 01-24-2002, 06:57 PM
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Jim:

Forward any forms, insurance or otherwise, that you own the rights to, and that you'd like to share, to me here and I'll post them for all to access via our resources page. Email me with questions or to coordinate.
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Old 01-25-2002, 02:18 AM
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Insurance

Tom we carry a special policy that covers customer originals while they are in our care against loss or damage from fire, flood, theft, vandalism etc., much the same as any museum would for exhibits that they do not own. I do not carry anything out of the ordinary business insurance otherwise.

The policy covering customer originals has a $3,600 base for work in process however, I have an open end arrangement with our agent and put higher coverage on things of high value for the limited time that they are in our care. The highest extra charges have been for things like a set of 15 limited edition Norman Rockwell prints, a Lincoln letter - and I've had some rare collector photos, like a gold leaf Curtis and a MBW that had declared values in excess of 10,000.

It's really not expensive, around $170 a year plus an extra $20 to $40 for the collectors items that I get in once in awhile and knowing they are covered lets you (and your clients) sleep easier! Check with your local historical society or art museum and find out who handles their insurance - they are usually up on this type of coverage and can help you with anything you need.

We require the customer to declare value if an original is over $200. I recently turned down a job on an MJ baseball card that needed a very minor touchup because the guy valued it at over $10,000. I doubt that it was worth more than a few hundred and thought it might be a flaky deal so I wasn't about to get involved with it. I think the declaration is good policy for anyone in the business, it's best to know ahead of time what your customer thinks their property is worth - just in case.

In making up the damage assessments for insurance claims we are the ones that put a "replacement" value on the photos and I base that on the going market rates. We do not put a "salvage" value on the damaged goods, it would be up to the insurance company to say they still have some value (like a demolished car) and I've never had that happen.

Jim Conway
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Old 01-25-2002, 07:24 AM
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Thanks for the quick response. Excellent info and suggestions. Tom
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Old 02-19-2002, 08:22 PM
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Hi all

This is a great topic. I've had some experience with insurance and salvage companies. They can be a bit of a hassle.

I've had the companies bring work in and also the individuals. I've even had someone from UPS come in.


Like Jim I always provide something in writing. I usually will do a complete examination report that describes the piece and it's condition (damages) and proposes a treatment for the piece. This is typical for a conservation treatment but it could be applied to digital restoration as well. Their is always a charge for the written report.

If the piece is brought in by the client I insist they must pay for the piece upon completion and work it out with the insurance company. I will provide the written information and the estimate but it is up to the client and the company to work out if the piece is covered and how much.

The big problem comes in when the company brings in the piece. They can be very slow to pay and often leave me stuck with the work for long periods of time (either incomplete or complete). Some salvage places will use your space as a storage area for pieces that can't be put back until restoration/rennovation of a building is complete! UGH! It is good to include a clause on an authorization form that says a storage charge of X dollars will be charged if the work is left past a certain time period.

For those interested in insurance policies for pieces that you are working on to insure against any damage you may accidently do during restoration you can contact Huntington Block. As far as I know they are the only company that provides this type of insurance. AIC the American Institute for Conservation worked with the insurance company to provide this specialized type of coverage for conservators. Last time I checked it was about $850.00 per year for it as well as regular insurance (fire/theft and contents etc.).

I have to say I don't go out of my way to contact/advertise to insurance and salvage companies but they do seem to find their way to me.

--Heather
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Old 02-19-2002, 09:02 PM
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Heather, When you bill the Ins. Co. upon completion , do you add an interest fee for late payment, if, say, the payment is more than 30 days deliquent plus a storage fee? Sort of sounds like working directly for the Ins. Co. is more of a bother than a boon... Tom
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Old 02-19-2002, 09:18 PM
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I haven't but that sounds like a good idea to me.

And yes, they can be a pain sometimes!

--Heather
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