My Story

During my December 2006 holiday vacation, a plumbing accident on the top floor of my condominium building unleashed a downpour of water that saturated all of the units below it, including mine on the bottom floor.


Replicating hurricane-type conditions, flooding destroyed the walls, ceilings, hardwood floors and my beloved chef’s kitchen. Facing not only severe water damage, but also significant mold and asbestos hazards, my home would need to be demolished and rebuilt from scratch. The toughest pill to swallow was that none of it was my fault. And yet, this type of catastrophe is all too common.

A claim representative from the insurance company dispatched its restoration crew to my home seventy-two hours later to remove the hard wood flooring, carpeting and walls. It was during this “emergency services” phase of the accident that I received my first real taste of interacting with contractors.   
Emergency Services -- Floor Removal

Emergency Services -- Floor Removal

Throughout the demolition, I watched as workmen descended upon my property with little respect. They repurposed my Ralph Lauren Egyptian cotton bath towels as doormats. They scattered my chef-quality Calphalon bake ware across the ground, left to rust beyond repair. They came and went at their convenience, without a sense of urgency. When “emergency services” were complete, they submitted their bill: $6,000.00 for roughly eighty hours worth of work.



As a single woman with an extremely demanding corporate career, I knew I would have my hands impossibly full the following year. Not only would I be displaced for an indeterminable period of time, but the possibility that the insurance settlement might not come close to covering the restoration costs was very real. I would have to squeeze documenting each damaged belonging and sifting through every purchase receipt from the past six years into an already demanding schedule. I would have to learn how to build a house from scratch even though I had never even picked up a hammer. All this while squeezing my life into a hotel room with the two trash bags of belongings I was able to salvage.


Although I possessed little time or practical knowledge, the one thing I did have in my corner was a Harvard MBA. Surely, after late nights of rigorous study at one of the world’s most distinguished educational institutions, and subsequent experience as a high-powered sales and marketing executive, I could figure out how to protect and restore my personal property. After soliciting advice from family, friends and associates, I committed myself to using every component of this skill set to ensure that I would be made whole as I recovered from this painful experience. I would treat the restoration of my home like a business, hiring the best staff that my budget would allow, managing construction costs wisely and insisting on quality execution. After more than a year of persistence, self-education and hard-line negotiations, I am thrilled to report that my home has been restored well beyond my expectations and within the budget negotiated with the insurance company.


Post a comment below if you’d like to share your story!


































































































































3 Responses to “My Story”

  1. leo rosen Says:

    Hi Patti:
    Looking forward to reading the book. Having dealt with insurance companies for over fifty years in my law practice, I can attest to the fact that insureds need all the advice they can get in trying to negotiate a claim
    with their carriers. With your own experience I am certain that you have invaluable advice to pass on to readers.Wishing you all the best in your endeavor.

    Leo Rosen

  2. Art Yoon Says:

    That was a rough time! I did gain a great roommate though for a while!

  3. Andrea Bici Says:

    Dear Patti,
    I am so proud of you for all of your tenacity and cheerful countenance during this difficult time. I do not know how you worked, planned your wedding and oversaw this project all at once.
    So timely for me, just last week, after complaining about a leak on my kitchen floor I could not find the source of, a big leak came out of my kitchen cabinets. It turns out a pipe had burst in the floor above me. Of course, my insurance company says my coop is responsible, and vice versa! I was about to have my kitchen retiled anyway! I am so excited you have documented your experience and support you 1,000% in marketing this!

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