is this questionable?

by Guest » Thu Apr 12, 2007 12:55 am

I had a sizable loss at a rental home -- water damage. Contractor's estimate came in way higher than insurance adjuster's. Adjuster and contractor met to work it out. Adjuster's estimate ended up around $39K. Contractor's scope was $42K. For a variety of reasons (including major illness during all this), I didn't really pay much attention until after work was close to done and final invoices came in. Then started wondering why contractor was higher when I'd been told it would not exceed insurance adjuster's approved amount. Noticed that the contractor had included recarpeting while adjuster had specified detach and relay most of existing carpet. I had paid contractor separately to redo all carpet in house as I was not happy with detach and relay on only part. Also, I had brought this to their attention and they said they would fix.

Once I noticed double charge for carpet, I informed contractor that A) I was being charged double for carpet and B) I had never received their revised scope after they met with adjuster. I also questioned why their final invoice was higher than what insurance was paying out. They told me they were working from adjuster's estimate, not their scope -- that after meeting with adjuster, they never prepared a new scope reflecting the agreed upon amount. But their scope erroneously included carpet; after subtracting carpet, their estimate was actually lower than adjuster's estimate.

My question is, it seems a little weird that their estimate was actually lower than the adjuster's final estimate, so they essentially brought their estimate up to match hers. I mentioned this to contractor and they denied that this was true. I didn't have the numbers in front of me when I talked to them, but have double checked and in fact their estimate without carpet was slightly lower than adjuster's estimate. I haven't talked to them again to show them the numbers. Is this questionable, or should I be talking to my adjuster about the discrepancy? It's a pretty small amount, but it doesn't seem right somehow that the insurance co. is shelling out MORE than what the contractor initially estimated.

Total Comments: 2

Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 02:14 pm Post Subject:

Well, the answer could get pretty detailed and long but to sum it up I'd say, it's not a perfect world.

Your contractor gave you an estimate. An estimate is just that.... it could increase and (yeah, right) it could decrease. There is always profit written into the estimate. As the consumer you can also always haggle the price a little. If the contractor does not ave much work, they may be willing to lower their profit a little instead of being without any work. Perhaps they could lower their price as the job is large enough that there profit is much larger anyway. What I'm really saying is that charges can be changed in this line of work.

Insurance companies know this and try to keep the repair cost down by writing their own estimates. The insurance company knows their price can be met by a majority of the repair companies and as such, most will match their price. In some/many cases the contractor may realize that more work is needed and be able to get the insurance company to increase the amount they will pay.

What I'm pointing out is that it's still a little bit of a shady transaction as charges can be increased and decreased. If I understand your situation, the contractor got caught a little with their hand in the cookie jar... but I'd not call them thieves. It sounds like to me that the contractor should have changed their bill, did not, accidentally double bill, and when they removed the double billing, their bill was actually lower then what they wanted. Should they charge the lesser amount? Probably. But if they did, that money really should go back to the carrier. Is the carrier expecting a lower price and money returned? Nope. If it's a small amount, you may want to consider that the contractor just made a little extra profit. No crime in that (as long as they did all of the work to your satisfaction).

Posted: Fri May 25, 2007 10:37 am Post Subject:

My suggestion would definently speak with the claims adjuster.
If they frequently use that same contractor, it could end up costing the contractor a lot of lost business in the end by not being honest and up front.

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