Five Steps You Should Take After a Fire Damage

fire damage resources

You and your family were away from vacation and you have just come home to a very devastating news.  This tragic news has turned your family upside down, but luckily, no one was home during the fire.  But what happens next?  Where does your family turn and what steps do you need to take?  These are questions that need answers.  If your home has suffered fire damage in Ft. Pierce FL, there are some things that you will need to do right away.  Below you will find five steps that will help get your life back to normal after a devastating house fire.

Five Important Steps to Take After Fire Damage

  1. Call your insurance company:

    After the fire has been put out, it’s time to call your homeowner’s insurance company and let them know what has happened.  In a few short days, they will send out an insurance adjustor to inspect any fire damage that has occurred.

  2. Gather your personal information:

    If you had a safe in your home, 9 times out of 10 it made it through the fire without damage to the items inside.  Make sure to recover the safe so that you will have your personal documents ready in case you need them.

  3. Look for sentimental items:

    Often times you will be able to find some sentimental items such as pictures that made it through the fire with little to no damage.  Make sure to look around for these items as soon as you can to prevent any further damage that might happen.

  4. Secure a place to stay while your home is being repaired:

    Contact friends or family members to see if your family can stay with them during the restoration process. If no one can accommodate you, try to find a hotel that allows for an extended stay.

  5. Get a second opinion:

    After your insurance company has had the chance to go over the fire damage to your home, get a second opinion.  By hiring an independent public adjusting firm to conduct an adjustment on your home, you will be better protected.  Insurance companies often try to offer the least amount possible for your fire damage.  This practice is industry wide, and the only real way to get what you deserve is by having an independent adjuster speak up for you.

Insurance Claims Management Tips for Businesses

So, you’ve been tasked with managing an insurance claim for your business, now what? Unless you are part of a large company’s dedicated legal or insurance team, managing a business insurance claim may be new to you. While you may welcome the change of pace, you’ll soon find that dealing with insurance adjusters, contractors, inspectors, and others involved in your claim is more time-consuming than you bargained for.

Use the tips below to better manage the entire claims process:

  • Treat it like a project – Invite everyone involved to your online project or task management software so that you have a centralized repository for claim related documents as well as collaboration and scheduling tools.
  • Learn about the commercial claims process – You have a lot to learn including: your company’s business insurance coverage, insurance terminology, claims procedures, how to document damage, your company’s responsibilities, additional coverage that may apply (such as business interruption coverage), commercial construction, and more.
  • Take a proactive approach, diligently looking after your business needs – Every day your business is down translates into thousands of dollars lost. Not only that, a great deal of money is at stake in the form of hidden or unclaimed losses. Remember, you are representing your business’s best interests while your insurance claims adjuster is looking after the insurance company’s best interests. Keep this in mind at all times and provide the insurance company with the facts it needs to pay your company’s claim in full.

Finally, consider working with a public insurance adjuster rather than relying solely on your insurance company’s representative. We manage the entire claim, allowing you to focus on performing your job while we pursue the highest settlement possible.

What to Do After a Storm Damages Your Home

Every year, storms and severe weather events cause billions of dollars of property damage. Just last year, property owners in Georgia bore the brunt of numerous storms — to the tune of more than $151 million dollars. It’s devastating to realize that your home or business has been damaged, and you may not know what to do. Here are the most important steps to take right away:

  1. Do not enter your storm damaged home until authorities have determined it safe to enter.
  2. Notify your insurance company as soon as possible.
  3. Take appropriate measures to secure the home to protect it and your belongings from additional damage. Depending on the nature of the damage, this may be as simple as boarding up broken windows. You may need to hire a contractor for emergency repairs.
  4. Take photos, photos, and more photos. Go room to room, documenting everything from a variety of angles. Take close-ups of identifying tags and serial numbers to help ensure you are properly compensated.
  5. Do not throw away damaged property until your insurance company has inventoried it and authorized its disposal. This is evidence, after all. You need it to support your claim!
  6. Keep all of your receipts for expenses incurred after the loss. For example, you could be entitled to compensation for temporary living arrangements and meals — but only if you have receipts.
  7. Get organized. It’s going to be a long haul with claims forms, correspondence, estimates, inventories, and more. Get a file box, folders, labels, and other office supplies to help you keep everything neat, organized, and readily accessible.
  8. Seek professional help. Public insurance adjusters help policyholders like you settle property damage claims. Tap into our insurance claim expertise and let us handle all aspects of your claim. We work hard to ensure that you get every penny that your insurance company owes you.

Contact a public adjuster today to learn more.

Property Damage in the United States

The National Weather Service released its Natural Hazard Statistics Report for 2013 earlier this summer. In all, extreme weather events caused over $12.7 billion in property and crop damage in 2013, down significantly from 2012’s $38.7 billion. Of the $12.7 billion, property damage accounted for $8.8 billion in losses.

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Costliest Types of Property Damage

What caused the most property damage last year?

  • Tornadoes – $3.6 billion
  • Flash and river flooding – $2.2 billion
  • Thunderstorms / high winds – $1.2 billion

At a more local level, Georgia had over $151 million in property damage in 2013; Florida came in at just over $64 million; North Carolina had over $48 million in property damage while its neighbor to the south, South Carolina, received over $18 million in property damage.

What does all of this mean to you, the property owner in the southeastern United States? Severe weather events are a fact of life in the coastal Atlantic states, and we still have many weeks left in 2014. As the hurricane season winds down, we’ll soon be bracing ourselves for winter storms.

What to Do Now

We’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that the best time to prepare is now, before a weather event wreaks havoc on your property. Make sure to get your home ready for winter by clearing out your gutters, checking slopes for proper drainage, sealing windows and doors, inspecting storm shutters, and stocking your emergency disaster kit. We also recommend reviewing your insurance policy to ensure you have sufficient insurance (and that it keeps up with inflation).

While you’re at it, get out your smartphone and take lots of photos of your home and your belongings. Having a complete home inventory along with documented proof of your home’s pre-loss condition can save you a lot of heartache and work should your property become severely damaged.

What to Do If Your Property Becomes Damaged

Know this: You don’t have to file your insurance claim on your own. Contact us as soon as it is practical for a free consultation.

Source:

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/hazstats.shtml

Optimizing Commercial Insurance Claims

For those that missed several of my last poste, here you are.

Public Adjusters Can Save What Would Have Been Lost

Accredited Public Adjusters

When natural disasters strike, properties get damaged or destroyed.  Floods, fires, hail storms, broken pipes and strong winds can destroy homes and businesses.  When these unfortunate events happen you must be ready to file your claim with the insurance company.  You may need a little paint or perhaps a whole new roof, but it could be much worse.  All of your property in might need to be replaced or at a minimum cleaned or repaired.  Insurance is meant to protect us, at least that what insurance companies tell us.  We pay small monthly premiums in exchange for protection when a disaster strikes.  Do you remember signing up for insurance?  I imagine the sales people were all very nice and friendly.  They probably offered you the best deals and tried over and over again to ensure you that their company would take care of you in the event of a disaster.

Most insured’s find it is the complete opposite when you try to collect after a loss.  Insurance companies do not want to pay out what is rightfully due.  In fact, when you file a property damage claim, the insurance company automatically assigns someone to your case.  This person is called an insurance loss adjuster or a claims file examiner. I call them desk jockeys, because this person in my opinion has one function and only one function.  Making sure your claim pays out as little as possible.  Does that sound promising?  It might sound ironic, but you will need to protect yourself from the company that is supposedly protecting you.  How do you go about doing this?  Solicit the help of a public insurance adjuster.

A public adjuster is a third party contracted by you.  This person will have your best interests at heart, they will try and maximize your settlement.  If you begin thinking you can handle the claim on your own, think again.  Insurance companies and their agents have decades of experience in manipulating cases and ensuring minimal payouts.  They know all the rules and the ways in between them.  You probably are no insurance claims expert.  The good news is, public adjusters are the experts in dealing with insurance companies.  They know how to help you through all the paperwork, documentation and hassle so you won’t have to.  Your life has been filled with enough stress, dealing with disasters itself.

A public adjuster will help lower your blood pressure in this time of need.  If possible it is wise to do a small amount of preparation before disasters strike.  Collect documentation on everything you own over one hundred dollars in value.  Take pictures of your property.  After the loss, contact a public adjuster immediately so that they can begin to work on your case and submit the claim as soon as possible.  Navigate the great wide world of insurance claims alone can leave you feeling lost, abused and betrayed by your insurer.

When to Hire a Public Adjuster

Wind damage for tornado

Imagine this scenario: a tornado blows through your town and inflicts substantial amounts of damage on your home, with high winds tearing off parts of your roof and flattening your garage. You contact your insurance company to make a claim and their adjustor will only agree to pay out a fraction of the cost of repairs. Do you have any recourse? You do if you hire a public adjuster: here’s a quick overview of how this type of professional can help.

 Unlike an adjuster who works for your insurance company, a public adjuster works for YOU: the policy-holder. He will bring in a team of inspection professionals who can make their own determinations and bring a more impartial view to the claims process. He will act as your representative and negotiate on the scope of damages on your behalf. In many cases, a public adjuster can negotiate significant increases in property insurance settlements so you can better get your life back in order.

So when should you hire a public adjuster? A good rule of thumb is to bring one in whenever you make a property insurance claim that runs into the thousands of dollars. You want to be sure that your interests are being looked after and that the insurance company is treating you fairly. When choosing a public adjuster, be sure to select one that is accredited, has years of experience in the field, is licensed in your particular state and holds an ACA accreditation.

When to Call an Insurance Public Adjuster

Fire - Accredited Public Adjusters

It can happen to anyone at any time. Fire, wind and water damage wreak havoc on homeowners nationwide each and every day: disrupting daily activities and costing a fortune in repair and restoration costs. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, fire alone causes over 12.5 billion dollars in property damage in the United States yearly. Dealing with the insurance company can be an added headache for homeowners: Knowing when you should call in a professional public adjuster to help mediate the claim process is easy, before all the headaches begin for you.

–If you don’t think you are being treated fairly by your insurance company’s adjuster. Sometimes it seems like it can take forever to get that claim check back, doesn’t it? Or maybe you don’t think you’re being treated fairly by the company in terms of what they’re willing to pay for your losses. Too many homeowners feel helpless in the face of large, powerful insurance companies who seem to attempt to pay out only the bare-bones minimum. A public adjuster can take a more impartial, third-party look at your claim and help determine if you are entitled to more. He is on your side, rather than on the side of the insurance company: and that is definitely empowering.

–A public adjuster will follow the same basic process as your insurance company’s professional, only from a different perspective. He can make sense of complicated homeowners’ policies and use his extensive knowledge in the industry to make sure your contract is being followed to the “t.” You will have to pay extra of course – usually a percentage of your eventual claim – for this service; but in many cases, the supplemental monies received makes hiring a public adjuster affordable for just about everyone. Remember paying out 20% on money you would not have never seen is better than 100% of nothing.

–When choosing your public adjuster, be sure you select one that has a reputation for excellence in the industry. Like anything else, there are good ones and not so good ones. Selecting one with a lower competence level may just add to your claims nightmare rather than improving it. The best ones will have extensive backgrounds in construction as well as disaster mitigation and cleanup and they use that knowledge for your benefit. Smart homeowners will already have researched and selected a public adjuster and have a name on file before a disaster occurs rather than scramble around in the heat of the moment.

Dealing with a property emergency or disaster is tough enough without having to hassle with your insurance claim: isn’t it nice to know you have an additional resource that can provide the help you need when you need it?