Your FEMA Claims Recovery Crew – Who’s Outside the Boat?

July 26, 2018

In our previous article, “Who's On Your FEMA Crew?”, we established key roles that need to be filled on your FEMA claims recovery team.  Now let’s explore other members of the team that support the crew in the FEMA recovery ‘boat’.

“Swing” is a state in which all rowers in the boat are seemingly in a symphony of harmonic motion, with no wasted energy.  That harmony of motion is similar to what we are trying to achieve with our FEMA claims recovery crew (though the effort may not be as picturesque). While the crew in the boat is conducting the physical work effort that moves the boat forward, there are other key members of the team that will need to provide support in order to achieve FEMA “swing”. 

While not in the boat on race day, the coach of the rowing team provides the technical advice and problem-solving guidance needed to prepare for a successful finish.  A claims consultant that understands the interplay between all insurance policies and available public assistance funding is key to rounding out the team. The consultant can be the extension of the physical onsite team working to provide checks and balance along the way, working to help the team move forward smoothly at a more rapid pace while optimizing recovery.

Consider this next category of professionals as “sponsors” of the FEMA racing crew:

  • Claims Adjuster(s) 

If insured, one of the first calls your organization should make is to your assigned claims adjuster.  Note that if the disaster is wide-spread, it may take some time for your adjuster to arrive on site, so it’s important to communicate and maintain sufficient records so that pertinent information can be funneled to the adjuster to avoid potential disputes over claim expenses.  

  • Legal Counsel

Whether your organization relies on in-house or external legal counsel, it is important for the crew to communicate the overall ‘race plan’ with counsel.  The legal team can provide overall claim guidance and can often assist with informal disputes concerning questions of expense eligibility if they are well informed of the plan of action.

  • Disaster Remediation Vendor

For large scale disasters, chances are your in-house staff and equipment will not be sufficient for clean-up, water extraction and remediation, etc.  Ideally, your organization will have contracts in place with a reputable disaster remediation vendors that can be called in for immediate assistance to prevent further damage to your property.  

  • Salvage Vendor

After a damage event, it is likely you will have contents and equipment that will need to be removed from the property and disposed.  If insured, work with your claims adjuster prior to disposal of any damaged property to coordinate the evaluation by the salvage vendor.  The insurance company may have their own salver they like to work with, but during a widespread disaster it is a good idea to have a ‘go to’ salvage vendor to suggest to the claims adjuster if resources are scarce. Also, be mindful of any federal, state, and local policies related to the disposal of damaged property.

  • Certified Industrial Hygienist

Prior to repairing or rebuilding a damaged space, environmental testing typically needs to be conducted to ensure you are not building back on top of environmental hazards that will create an unhealthy public space.  Having a Certified Industrial Hygienist as part of your team can allow for streamlined inspections and reporting on environmental quality.

  • Licensed Architects and Engineers

It is important to have a qualified licensed architect/engineering firm ready to assist in the planning and execution of the rebuild process.  Detailed scopes of work for these projects will need to be created, and most likely your architect/engineer will need to assist with FEMA questions concerning repair vs. replace decisions.

This listing is not intended to be exhaustive, but hopefully will assist you as you plan for the need to effectively respond to ‘stormy seas’.  In the rowing world, there is a call used by the coxswain called a ‘Power 10’. This is a command for all rowers in the boat to give ten of their best, most powerful strokes. Comprehensively involving and communicating the recovery plan to these external crew members will put the internal FEMA claims recovery crew in position for the ‘Power 10’ call.  

A Note on Competitively Bid and Awarded contracts

If your property is significantly damaged, the repairs will likely rise to the spending threshold that will require competitively bid contract awards.  Consult your state procurement laws, as well as federal procurement laws to ensure procurement compliance for your projects. Keep an eye out for our upcoming article on Procurement and Cooperative Purchasing where we will take a deeper dive on this topic.