The Paperwork Nightmare of Water Restoration
Having been in the water restoration business since 1992 I have seen many changes in the industry. Most notably the drying equipment is better, the training is exceptional, and the new moisture detection equipment is phenomenal. However not everything is rosy in the industry just like many industries. The insurance companies are really requiring our paperwork skills to be top notch also. So let's look at what it takes to produce a good water mitigation invoice so that the insurance company doesn't have room to complain.
Just a note: I dry mostly residential homes and I just do the drying so this will be written from that perspective.
This starts with photos of the job with a date/time stamp on the photo. You need photos of the front of the loss, all areas affected within the structure, contents affected, and meters on the walls, ceilings, and floors showing wet, photos after the equipment is set, more photos each day of the loss, and photos on the last day with your meter showing that things are dry and using multiple meters is preferred. This is a lot and it is just the photos.
Then there are the measurements of each room affected and the rooms adjacent to the rooms affected that can not easily be cutoff from the air to be dried. This information is then put into a estimating software in a sketch. Then you need to enter all your line items for each room affected and all the work done in those rooms. Then load all your photos in the estimate along with your signed work authorization, signed certificate of satisfaction/completion, daily humidity chart, any information from a data logger, any infrared camera images, and explanations of almost all your line items in your invoice to justify each charge. In my mind this makes up a real thorough invoice and one that few people will be able to question you on.
However, this takes time. Time is money. We as mitigation vendors don't get paid for all this invoicing time and we don't get paid what we ask for unless we spend the time to invoice properly. So we are caught in between a rock and a hard place with no real place to turn. We are at the mercy of the insurance companies and the people producing the estimating software. What we really need in this industry is the ability to charge for the many man hours that each job takes to invoice. It is my contention that if this ever happened then the insurance companies would not require nearly as much from us.