There are several reasons that adjusters are anxious for a cleaning estimate from a cleaning contractor at the beginning of a job.
An adjuster needs to set what’s called a “reserve.”A reserve is an amount that needs to be set by the insurance company at the beginning of every loss as a set aside amount if you will to know that the money is “reserved” for that particular loss out of the insurance company’s assets. They need to do this to meet the requirements of regulators, rating agencies and management.
Adjusters also want to have an idea of what they are dealing with in regard to policy limits. I always check in with the adjuster in regards to policy limits and whether or not a policy is ACV, actual cash value, or RCV, replacement cost value, before I start any cleaning work.
So it is important to try to be as accurate as possible when you are asked for an estimate. A rule of thumb that I use is to increase my estimate of costs to clean and restore a contents job by at least 20% so there is some wiggle room. That being said, don’t go overboard with your estimate. Your goal is to be as accurate as possible but it is better to be a little over than too low.
If you discover part way through a job that your original estimate is not going to be enough, you should have a conversation with your adjuster and let them know as soon as possible so there are no surprises. This also allows them to up the reserve that they originally set so they don’t get caught off guard.
If you are not comfortable estimating a type of loss that you are not familiar with then talk with the adjuster and you may be able to come up with a number that both parties are comfortable with.
Be very careful that you do not come across like you aren’t experienced enough to handle the job. It is a delicate balance and how you handle it depends a lot on the type of relationship you may or may not have with the adjuster involved.