I was out with my buddy at a local wine festival in Morristown NJ all afternoon, having a great time and living life. We had taken an Uber back to his house to hang out and watch the Yankees game. Then all of a sudden I get a call from my Mother, this is the call nobody ever expects, She said ” You need to come home right now, there’s has been a fire, your friend ( local police officer friend I went to high school with, said you need to come home right away ) We leave to my house right away!
The anxiety of going to my burning house, not knowing if my family was ok and our home would be destroyed was crazy. I arrived, The police, fire trucks and emergency/volunteers are all there. I looked in the driveway I saw my Mom, Dad, Brothers, Nephew and our Dog, they where safe. I looked up at the house and the fire was being put out by the fire department. The Fire was completely put out in 30 minutes. We where very lucky it was not worst. I was very grateful my family was safe and that nobody was hurt. That’s when I thanked God for keeping my family safe, and I was grateful to my neighbors who warned my family about the fire and my towns police/fire department that put out the fire as soon as possible.
The fire had started in our attic, freak old outdated electrical fire ( this was the report provided by the fire inspector ). The fire department did their job, they put out the fire as soon as possible, fire fighting protocols require they brake windows, saturate the property as needed to put out the fire and shutdown all electrical. Our home in 1 hour went from being our home to condemnd/not allowed to be in because of the fire, smoke damage, water damage , broken windows ( from fire department putting out the fire ) and no electricity. At that point all we could do is start looking for temporary housing, I slept in my office that night, the rest of my family stayed at my brothers house. That night changed me, I was never the same. But that was the start of our insurance claim and our long journey to restoring our lifes back to normal.
The biggest issue was that the water from putting out the fire in the attic, reached the second floor, 1st floor and the basement. That night we called our insurance company and opened up our insurance claim and told them what happened. The insurance company understood the situation and advice us to seek temporary shelter for 24-48 hours before they can figure out a more long term solution ( a place for my family to live ). Then they said that an insurance adjuster would be calling/contacting us to come asses the damages. The insurance company provided us with the temporary housing ( local hotel ) we needed in 24 hours and solved our need for temporary housing.
The insurance adjuster took over a week to contact us and visit our home to asses the damages. By the time the insurance adjuster showed up at our house, our property had suffered unrepairable water damage/fire damage ( our hardwood floors where ruined, wrapped , water bubbles on the walls, ) that eventually turned into mold ( due to water damage from the fire department putting out the fire and lack of action from the insurance company )
Once the insurance adjuster arrived he was downplaying the entire damage & claim trying to say that the damage was not
was not too bad and that it could be cleaned easily. Once we saw mold forming, we knew that we needed a licensed third-party professional to determine if mold was there. Once we received our mold test from the licensed mold remediation company, we had to remediate the entire side of the house that suffered the water/mold damage.
After doing remediation/demolition to half of the house / affected area. I was in charge of bringing my family’s home up to code, hiring contractors, this meant pulling permits from the town with our contractor, going to meet with architects ( bringing home up to code, adding fire stops on the walls , fireguard doors, restructing/sistering the structure beams , hiring a licensed electrician to update everything up to code , electrical was the source of the fire and by law needed to be updated ) Managing the contractors, rebuild, permits, collecting the money from the insurance company and final town building inspections took months. I also had to manage the loss contents, all of my families lost contents, track everything that we lost in the fire or was damaged by water/mold. So all the inventory of contents was accounted for.
One of our biggest mistakes was hiring a local friend that was a general contractor for the construction/rebuild. He was a good contractor but not for insurance claims. I had to do a lot of the work he couldn’t do because he did not have any experience in handling an insurance claim.
When dealing with an insurance claim, your documentation of the damage, invoicing/scope of work must be done professionally & up to industry standards (not a napking or hand written invoices) or collecting the money to get the work done properly will be a very stressful time.
The insurance company offered us $50,000.00 for everything in 30 days, cutting my family a check for $50,000.00 and said have a nice day.
After talking with my father, brothers and seeing that the 50k would not be enough to completely rebuild our home from all the damages, we knew we had to fight, and that’s what we did, with the help of my friend and lawyer ( Christopher Flood Co-Founder Of Restore Adjustment Agency LLC ) we where able to collect $209,000.00 in total (all expenses paid out by the insurance company, for property damage/rebuild, personal contents , and temporary shelter etc).
That is why we started this company, to help family’s during the times they need the most help. I have been there, I know what it’s like to be displaced from your home, live in a hotel for months, hire architects to bring building up to codes, pull town permits, remediation of property (mold removal, water damage clean up , smoke damage), dealt with unproffesional contractors that where not fit for insurance claims, then passed building inspections, and battled insurance company for months to make sure that my family got what was legally supposed to be provided by our insurance company. I will work just as hard for you and your family!
Let me help you RESTORE!
By: Mauricio Artigas Co-Founder Of Restore Adjustment Agency LLC