Claims 101 – What you can do to survive the claims process
Author: Holiday Van Erem
The subject of flooring claims can be very complicated. No claim is alike; they’re all different, they’re all unique, and have their own unique situations. We are only aware of what we’re aware of, the parts we are engaged with. But what about the rest? How can you survive the claims process without getting a PHD in flooring claims? Step one is to listen to the September episode of the What the Floor Podcast, which is all about claims. Step two is to read this “Claims 101” guide for a basic outline of what you can do to survive the claims process.
- There are 3 types of claims – freight claims, fully installed claims, and partially installed claims.
- What’s the difference? Freight claims are derived from damage done in the shipping process. With partially installed claims, there’s opportunity for resolution right away. That floor can be corrected, virtually on the spot. Whereas, a fully installed claim must go through the warranty process. And that’s a far bigger and more arduous timeline than a partially installed claim.
- Validate if it’s a true claim versus a complaint – don’t waste anyone’s time, especially yours!
- As the flooring subcontractor or installer, you must talk to the homeowner and see, in person for yourself, what they are complaining about to decide if this is a valid claim issue or just a complaint. It’s possible that it can be solved quickly and quietly. So often there may be a concern or just something they didn’t like, and you can go and reset the expectation.
- If it’s really a claim situation, file a claim ASAP with the right information.
- It is very important for the person who knows the most information about the claim to be the one to fill out the paperwork. It’s the most accurate information and it saves time.
- Provide photos! If you can take photos of the actual problem, providing clear evidence, close ups of the issue, but also large full room photos, you will be ahead of the game. Manufacturers want to see what’s happening around the edges of the room. Is this an isolated issue? Is it happening multiple times in different spots? Is there something else going on in that room, are there window coverings on the windows?
- Don’t forget to provide photos of the box and the label on the end of the box. It has the serial number, a run number, and it will have the SKU and the product name.
- Provide or hold on to samples of the problem as evidence for testing by the manufacturer. Just trust us on this one.
- Expect at least a 30-day turnaround time. And that includes the inspection, the paperwork, and working with the manufacturer.
- Know that 9 out of 10 claims are denied by the manufacturer after inspection.
- Very rarely is the product what’s wrong with the situation. Normally it is a site related issue. Things like pinch points, end gap separation, islands going on top of floating floors. And unfortunately, other trades doing things to the floor after the installer has left. These are all normally caused by site related issues.
- A best practice is to keep track of records while doing the installation to be utilized later if there is a claim.
- Examples: what was the humidity of the room at the time of installation? What was the subfloor moisture content at the time of installation?
- Validate if it’s a true claim, versus a complaint – don’t waste anyone’s money!
- Currently, the average price for an inspector to come out to a site is between $450 and $700. It can also take 2-4 weeks for the full inspection report to be filed.
- Over communicate and set good expectations with your customer and with the flooring distributor. If everyone is working together and keeping each other informed of progress through the claims process, you will have the greatest opportunity for everyone to be happy in the end.
- Please know that sometimes the claims process does not end the way you want it to. However, if you work together as partners, with the distributor and the manufacturer, to come up with the best solution possible, it will feel like a win to the homeowner.