The key to ensuring you receive all the information you need for claims decisions is in the scope of work.
Author: Russ Zeckner, P.E., CFEI, Forensic Engineer & Principal Consultant
One key to a successful relationship between a client and vendor is good and clear communication. The most important communication between Donan and its clients is the scope of work. This cannot be understated since a complete understanding of a scope of work insures that clients receive the necessary information they need to make claim decisions.
As a forensic investigation firm, our job is to provide adjusters with sufficient and unbiased science-based opinions that allow them to make proper claim decisions. But, unless the scope we are provided is generous in detail, we may have insufficient insights into the adjuster’s complete needs.
An ideal scope of work for a forensic report not only requests information regarding the cause or source of a problem, but also asks about all applicable exceptions that must be considered for that claim.
For example, a common scope might state, “Determine the cause of the roof leak.” Taken at its face value, an engineer could answer the question by providing, “The leak was caused by rainwater penetrating the building’s envelope.” Such an answer does not satisfy the needs of the adjuster and would never make it past an internal peer review process. A more complete statement of the scope avoids this problem by including key elements the adjuster must consider in the decision-making process. An alternative scope for the same project could state, “Document and determine those conditions that resulted in a roof leak, including whether it was the result of chronic or a sudden event and if the roof’s installation method was a factor.” Such a scope, when fully addressed, will provide the adjuster with sufficient information to allow accurate decisions.
Forensic investigators will attempt to anticipate unstated requirements of lesser detailed scopes, but given the variety of claims, operating on minimal details is not the best practice. Including all those items required for a decision within the scope you provide will limit misunderstandings and prevent the related delays from slowing your claims process. If time or the complexity of the project prevents including all your needs in the written scope, request a call from the engineering or fire expert to discuss the assignment in further detail.
About the Expert
Russell Zeckner joined Donan in 2000 and currently serves as forensic engineer and principal consultant, a position held by Donan professionals with the highest level of technical expertise and industry experience. Mr. Zeckner has over 27 years of engineering experience and is a subject matter expert in mold, foundation failures, water intrusion, plumbing, spontaneous combustion, fire suppression systems, and other areas. Mr. Zeckner works on a variety of projects at Donan including water intrusion, structural damage impacts, construction defects, environmental issues, residential plumbing, and mold problems. He also provides fire investigator support related to appliance or similar fire causes. He is a licensed professional engineer in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee, and is a Certified Fire & Explosion Investigator. He earned his Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Louisville’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering (formerly Speed Scientific School). View Russell Zeckner’s full professional profile here.
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