Choosing a Contractor After a Natural Disaster 

Choosing a Contractor After a Natural Disaster 

Are you in the process of building or repairing your vacation rental property on the Alabama Gulf Coast? One of the most critical steps in home construction is choosing the right contractor for you. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and arm yourself with the necessary information to select the best contractor for your project. If you’re unsure of where to start when it comes to choosing a contractor, we’re here to help.   

Once your property is restored and you’re ready to rent it out, let Harris Vacation Rentals assist you with property management.  

What to Ask for From a Potential Contractor 

Do you know how to decide if a contractor is legitimate and will provide you with the best service possible? Here’s how to start. Ask for: 

  • The builder’s name, address, and phone number (office and cell). Contact the numbers provided to verify that this information belongs to a legitimate business. 
  • A copy of their Business License issued in the city/town they’ll be performing the work. 
  • Documentation showing that they are licensed, bonded, and insured. 
  • Reliable references. Be sure to contact them! 

Tips for Choosing the Best Contractor 

As you go through the process of selecting your contractor, remember to keep these helpful tips in mind: 

  • Get quotes from multiple contractors. (This can be difficult following a natural disaster, so try your best to find one that you feel comfortable with and move on.) 
  • Once you’re ready to move forward, be sure the contract you sign contains the contractor’s license number. Do not sign until you understand the terms of the contract. If you do not understand the contract, do not hesitate to ask a reliable source for assistance. It is better to take more time upfront than to quickly sign a contract you do not fully understand. 
  • Ask the contractor to provide a detailed schedule for how the builder will complete the work. It should include a staffing plan and a contingency plan in case subcontractors fall through. 
  • Be aware that an ethical contractor will be patient in answering your questions and have reasonable payment terms. (“I need to get paid today” is a major red flag.) 
  • Working with a contractor that has been serving the local community for years will reduce the risk that you will connect with someone that’s only here to make a quick buck. These contractors have “been in the phone book” locally for several years and have a community presence. This is known as “The Phone Book Test.”  
  • Most professionals do not solicit business door-to-door and do not require a large payment upfront.  
  • If you’re not local, it’s crucial to have a trusted Property Manager that can work with your contractor and send progress updates. 

What to Look Out for When Selecting a Contractor 

Now you know what to request during the contractor selection process and what makes for a superior contractor. However, it’s still important to know the warning signs of a wrong or unreliable contractor. 

  • Out-of-town businesses. 
  • “Too good to be true” offers and “never-to-be-repeated” deals.  
  • Requests for “Assignment of Benefits” (AoB’s) 
  • This is when a contractor or other third-party requests full access to your insurance benefits and decision-making authority. DO NOT agree to this.  
  • Glossy materials that over-sell their abilities. 
  • The contractor is saying, “I need to speak to …”   
  • Out-of-town contractors will search the county property records to get a name to drop. This actually happened to Harris Vacation Rentals at our main office. We contacted the police, and they located this person and gave him a verbal warning to cease and desist.   

Need Extra Assistance? 

Are you still feeling overwhelmed? We understand! Here at Harris Vacation Rentals, we’ve been serving property owners like you for over 30 years. Our property management services are here to help reduce your stress and make the most out of your vacation rental property.  

Contact us for more information regarding property management and post-natural disaster assistance.  

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How To Manage the Insurance Claims Process After a Natural Disaster

How To Manage the Insurance Claims Process After a Natural Disaster

In the unfortunate event that your property is affected by a natural disaster, the insurance claims process will be a large part of getting your rental home repaired. Because this process is so important, it can often seem equally overwhelming, but don’t let that intimidate you. When you follow the correct steps and pay close attention to the ongoing process, you can be confident you’ll get the most out of your insurance policy.

Once the repairs on your rental property are complete, you will be ready to welcome guests once again! For the best property management, browse our services, and find out all that Harris Vacation Rentals offers. 

Step 1: Contact Your Insurance Provider and File a Claim

Contact your insurance provider and submit your claim as soon as possible. Like you, other property owners have likely been affected, often creating a backup of claims. Therefore, to avoid delays, you must file a claim as soon as you are able.

When you speak with your insurance provider, they will likely request details regarding water damage, fallen trees, broken windows, etc. Depending on the extent of your property’s damage, they may instruct you to take further action. For example, they may request pictures of the damage, or if there is any water damage, you may need to contact a water mitigation company. 

After speaking with your provider, supplying the necessary details, and submitting your claim, you will receive a claim number. Be sure to note your claim number and keep it in a safe place, as you will need this throughout the claims process. 

Step 2: Read and Understand the Property’s Insurance Policy

An essential part of the insurance claims process is reading and understanding precisely what your policy covers. If you do not have a copy of your policy, request one from your insurance provider. Read the policy carefully, understand what type of coverage you have. As you are reviewing your policy check for the following: 

  • Replacement cost vs. cash value of damaged items
  • Deductibles
  • Wind damage coverage 
  • Coverage for damages to other structures
  • Loss of rent
  • Coverage for tree damage 

Contact your provider if you have any questions regarding the extent of your policy’s coverage. 

Step 3: Schedule an Insurance Adjuster Inspection 

Once your claim has been processed, your insurance company will most likely send an insurance adjuster to inspect the damage and determine whether the insurance company is liable to cover your claim. 

Before the inspection, refrain from discarding or removing any damaged items from the property. Instead, make a list and photograph everything that was damaged during the disaster. Additionally, plan for yourself or a representative to be present during the inspection.

At the time of inspection, be sure to supply the inspector with a list of the damages you have noted and point out any things they may miss.

Step 4: Obtain Damage Estimates

Upon the completion of the insurance adjuster’s inspection, request a copy of the estimate report from the adjuster. This report will outline what damages your insurance company will cover, and how much they estimate the work will cost. If you are unable to obtain a copy of the report from the adjuster, contact your insurance provider, and they should be able to supply the report.

When you receive the estimate report, review it carefully. If you disagree with the estimate provided, contact your insurance company, or consider hiring a public adjuster. A public adjuster works for you, not the insurance company, and they can help you negotiate anything the insurance company may have missed.

Once you reach an agreement with your insurance company, you can begin to contact builders. At this stage, contractors will visit your property to assess and quote the work that needs to be done. Be sure to shop around for the best quality, price, and service. Gather and review all the quotes you receive, and do not begin any work yet. 

Step 5: Send Damage Quotes To Your Insurance Provider

At this point, you can send the quotes you have gathered to your insurance provider. Keep in mind that your provider may go with the cheapest quote if you present one. Be alert and stay away from any contractors whose prices may be too good to be true. If you receive a work estimate that doesn’t seem right, it may be in your best interest to exclude it. 

Your insurance provider will review the quotes you have submitted and provide a payout for the damages covered under your policy. 

Step 6: Begin the Repairs Process 

Now you’re ready to choose a contractor and begin the rebuilding process. Keep in mind that your adjuster and mortgage company may recommend a contractor, but you get to make the final decision. 

If you uncover further damage during repairs, photograph the damages and contact your insurance provider. 

Step 7: Prepare the Property for Guests! 

Congratulations! Your home is rebuilt, it is as beautiful as ever, and you’re ready to share the serenity of your vacation rental property with more visitors. At Harris Vacation Rentals, we are here to help reduce your stress, reduce your vacancy cycles, and maintain your property in tip-top shape. 

Learn about our services and find out why our team is the best in the property management business.

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Things You Should Know About Your Insurance Coverage

Things You Should Know About Your Insurance Coverage

Natural disasters can be unexpected and devastating to vacation rental properties. It’s crucial to understand what exactly your insurance plan covers so that when an unforeseen, unfortunate event occurs, you’ll feel more prepared to deal with the aftermath. 


Are you feeling overwhelmed with managing your rental property? Harris Vacation Rentals is here to help. Contact us and find out why people like you have trusted us to manage their properties for over 30 years. 


5 Things To Know About Your Insurance Coverage

1. Coverage Limits and Deductibles

In Alabama, the standard homeowner’s policy varies in coverage. It’s essential to make sure your home is adequately covered, and your limit will take care of any potential catastrophic loss. 


Along the Alabama Gulf Coast, policies typically have two deductibles. Wind/hail/hurricane coverage has its own deductible and is usually based on a percentage of dwelling coverage (1% to 5%). The all other peril (AOP) deductible is usually a set figure ($1000 to $10000). 

2. Replacement Cost

The replacement cost is the amount of money it would take to rebuild your home as of today’s construction cost. Do not confuse this figure with the market value or sales price. Since these two values often contain depreciation and/or land value, they can vary significantly from the replacement cost of your dwelling. 

3. Age of Your Home

A home built that follows the most recent codes will receive the best insurance rate. The age of a home’s roof, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC will all play a factor in the insurance rate you will receive. Remember, newer is always better. 

4. Wind Mitigation

Wind and hail coverage can make up to 70% of your premium dollar—that’s a lot! Adding features to your home that help withstand or increase resistance to high winds caused by natural disasters can help you combat this, especially in our coastal market. For example, a full hip roof will receive a better rate than a gable or complex roof, and brick/concrete board exteriors will rate better than wood and vinyl exteriors. Window protection, such as hurricane shutters and hurricane-proof glass, will help lower rates as well. 

5. Every Customer Is Different

Even if you were to have the exact same property in the exact same location as someone, your insurance would be different. Your insurance rates can vary based on credit history, claims history, and more. Plus, ownership of trampolines, swimming pools with diving boards or slides, and certain dog breeds can negatively affect insurance rates. 

Need Additional Assistance?

Are you searching for additional assistance regarding making the most out of your vacation rental property? Contact Harris Vacation Rentals to learn about our property management.

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Disaster Insurance Attorney Q&A Post Hurricane Sally

Disaster Insurance Attorney Q&A Post Hurricane Sally

Brian Harris, CEO of Harris Vacation Rentals, Harris Realty Group discusses insurance policies and rights with attorneys Smith Prestwood of Prestwood Law Firm and Jason Vishio of Vishio Forry Insurance Claim Attorneys post-hurricane Sally in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Learn more about hurricane restoration.


This video is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.  Attorney Smith Prestwood is licensed to practice law in Alabama and Florida.  Attorney Jason Vishio is licensed to practice law in Florida but not Alabama.  No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

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