Cross Examination w/ Ed Cross

Cross Examination is a C&R-exclusive column with The Restoration Lawyer himself, Ed Cross. Ed got his start in restoration working in his father’s construction company. In 1995, Ed founded the Law Offices of Edward H. Cross, serving the construction and restoration industry. He has never looked back.
Ed is the #1 authority on a number of legal matters in our industry today. His bimonthly columns and videos cover the hottest topics.

Top Collections Strategies for Restorers

Getting paid at the end of a job can be one of the biggest challenges restorers face. Restorers should recognize that collecting money has very little to do with their invoicing process once work is finished. Rather, collecting starts from the moment they first make contact with a prospective client. A happy client is much more likely to pay than an unhappy client, so the steps taken early on and throughout the job are extremely important. Setting realistic expectations, communicating effectively, and thoroughly documenting the work, will have a huge impact on a restorer’s

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Allstate’s Multiple Failed Attempts to Challenge Assignment of Benefits | Prequel to the Aliso Viejo Case

A restorer with a properly-executed Assignment of Insurance Rights can enforce the policyholder’s rights to fair claims handling. Allstate pivots and back-peddles, unsuccessfully attempting to find a basis to challenge contractors’ Assignment of Insurance Rights. California contractor uses Assignment of Insurance Rights to sue the carrier directly for overhead, profit, and attorneys’ fees and recovers 10x the invoice. SANTA ANA, CA – As reported in the March/April 2023 edition of C&R, Allstate Insurance Company paid an Orange County restoration contractor $335,000 to settle a dispute that began when Allstate refused to pay $33,221.80 of

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Allstate Pays Contractor $335,000 to Settle Dispute Over $33,000 Restoration Invoice

Contractor with a long history of collecting overhead and profit for mitigation and contents is denied 10 & 10 for subcontracted contents work. Allstate adjuster writes: “Allstate does not cover OH&P for mitigation or contents work so unfortunately your request for OH&P for any contents work or packing will not be approved.” Contractor uses Assignment of Insurance Rights to sue the carrier directly for overhead, profit, and attorneys’ fees. Retired Allstate Property Claim Manager testifies that Allstate acted in bad faith for refusing to pay overhead and profit for contents. SANTA ANA, CA –

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Free Estimates? Can You Spot the Policyholder Who Merely Intends to Cash Out?

I receive lots of calls from restorers who are sick and tired of writing estimates for policyholders who do not intend to hire them to perform the work. Policyholders use well-written estimates to increase their insurance recoveries, often at the expense of the estimator.  It can be enormously time-consuming to prepare a good estimate. This is precious time taken away from paying work. Estimating requires professional expertise, so why shouldn’t that time be compensable? Well, it may be if you set it up right, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea for your

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Possessory Liens: A Tool to Collect Sums Due For Contents Restoration

If you take your Ferrari to the shop for a new carburetor, and you refuse to pay for the work, the shop can keep your Ferrari, just like a dry cleaner can keep your pants if you don’t pay for the cleaning.  These providers have liens on the property, and restorers have them, too. These liens are different from mechanic’s liens, which attach to real property improved by a provider. The liens on contents are called “possessory liens” because the lien is based on possession.  A possessory lien is a security interest in personal

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Increase Profits By Improving Communications

Miscommunications lie quietly beneath the surface of most problems in cleaning and restoration transactions. Commonly-overlooked communication problems lead to liability issues and collection problems. Here are some tools to prevent these problems, avoid bad online reviews, and get paid faster! Address the “Communication Driver” In business transactions, we need to convince the other parties that they are better off transacting with us than not transacting with us. The challenge is that we often have different priorities than those with whom we do business. If we fail to find any common ground, the transaction will

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How to NOT Get Roasted in a Deposition

When a property repair project becomes adversarial, as it often does, restorers may find themselves under the bright glare of scrutiny in the grueling litigation process known as discovery. Discovery is the exchange of evidence between parties prior to a civil trial. It is intended to narrow the issues for trial and help the parties and their counsel evaluate the case for settlement. Discovery comes in several forms: written discovery, such as questions (“interrogatories”) and requests for docu­ments; and oral discovery (depositions). A deposition is the most powerful form of dis­covery. It is a

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Cross Examination: Don’t Let Your CATS Turn Into Dogs

Before we know it, the catastrophe season will be upon us again. Restorers will be tempted to jump into the action, drawn by the instinct to render aid to those in need, and the potential for huge job volume. Entering the CAT world is one of the riskiest business decisions a contractor can make. They often return home from removing water from their customers’ properties only to find themselves under water, financially and legally. The harsh reality is that CAT work is a minefield, but your Ol’ Uncle Ed is here to share just

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Cross Examination: Are Work Authorizations Really Contracts?

This question has been the subject of a lot of discussions in online groups lately. Some have written that an authorization is simply an “authorization to do work and not get paid; we have contracts to get paid.” This triggered a reply asking “What’s the difference if there’s a payment clause?” The short answer is: Authorization + Payment Clause ≠ Contract. What is a contract? A contract is an agreement between two or more parties that is intended to be legally enforceable. But the mere intention to make it enforceable does not make it so.

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Cross Examination: Don’t Be a Restoration Cannibal

Restorers complain that insurance companies pay too little and don’t treat them fairly, but some restorers contribute to the problem by pandering to insurance companies and foolishly undercutting the value of restoration services. I understand and respect restorers’ desire to have a good working relationship with the insurance industry, but it should not be done at the cost of sacrificing quality, eroding the fair market value of restoration services, or jeopardizing public confidence in the restoration industry. In one case, an attorney for a famous member of the San Diego Chargers engaged a contractor

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