Cleaning Up Your Contents After a Hurricane

‘Tis the season to be jolly and deck the halls with Christmas joy. Some may find that difficult this year as they are still in the middle of cleanup and restoration as a result of the 2017 Hurricane Season. This season was exceptionally tough on folks in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Some of the issues in Texas involve the damage and contamination caused by the “black” water that destroyed their contents. CAT adjusters flooded the area immediately with the logic and advice that these items might be cleaned, particularly the pots, pans, dishes and glassware. We came across an article actually written by a cleaning company that stated the only thing that could be cleaned to a safe usable level after this contamination is the glassware. This coming from a company who earns its’ living cleaning items. They are referring to contents that were sitting in flood waters, waters contaminated by sewage and chemicals.

Continue reading “Cleaning Up Your Contents After a Hurricane”

Shortage of Insurance Adjusters in Wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Hurricane season is at its peak and folks are still in recovery mode following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Now, there appears to be a shortage of insurance adjusters, especially in Florida where basically policyholders are having to wait because the insurance adjusters are all in Houston because Harvey was the first to hit.

Insurance companies are advertising for adjusters and trying to build up their rosters to cover the areas hit the hardest. Simply put, they are using anyone with a pulse to help out because of the high volume of claims being reported right now. Property owners are the ones who will be left on the short end of the stick as inspections are being performed by people who just don’t have the experience or expertise to properly inspect and estimate the claim. This leaves huge holes in the estimate, huge discrepancies in the claim value, and makes it even more important for the property owners to hire their own claim professional and have an expert on their side. Continue reading “Shortage of Insurance Adjusters in Wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma”

How Does the Insurance Company Justify Adding O&P (Overhead and Profit) to Everything Except the Roof?

How does the insurance company justify adding O&P to everything except the roof? To understand this question, you must first know what O&P means. In the insurance industry, Overhead (10%) and Profit (10%), commonly referred to as O&P, is owed when it becomes necessary to have multiple subcontractors perform work to repair damages to your property cause by a covered peril in the policy.

Your policy provides coverage for the cost to repair or replace the property damaged by a covered loss. Although not generally stated, this includes the cost of O&P. So, while your coverage includes this additional expense, many insurance companies use the benchmark that it is only owed if more than three trades are involved in the repair process. However, there is no binding authority on the 3-trade rule and the truth is that almost every property loss involves multiple trades. When you have a hail claim, it isn’t just the roof that is damaged.

How Your Insurance Company Just Kept 20% of Your Claim

Once you have a clear understanding of what O&P is, then it is easy to see where the question comes into play. How does the insurance company justify adding O&P to everything in their estimate except for the roof itself? The roof is the single most expensive item on the estimate most likely. By excluding O&P on this one item, it just saved the insurance company a bundle of money at the expense of the insured. Now multiply this by the number of claims just in your area and you get the picture.

Another excuse the insurance companies use is that they will pay the O&P if you can prove that the charge was actually incurred. However, there is absolutely nothing in the policy that states that O&P is only paid when incurred. In fact, it discredits the insurance adjuster’s estimate when they attempt to allow for O&P on everything except for the roof. It gives the appearance of an obvious money-saving technique when included on everything except the big-ticket item. The purpose of O&P is so that the policyholder can hire one general contractor to coordinate all repairs. That includes the roof.

It takes a licensed professional to sort through these types of issues and make sure that the policyholder isn’t being given less than they deserve.

The Hail Storm Bill (Blue Tarp Bill) SB10 Pending in Texas

Lots of news coming from Texas this week as the battle in Austin continues over the Hail Storm Bill (Blue Tarp Bill) (SB 10). Big insurance companies are the only beneficiary of passage of this bill.

“The easiest and most effective way to make more money is to increase premiums, to pay less on any claim, and to kill all the lawyers.” by Dale F. Kelly, Corpus Christi (Texas Trial Lawyers Association)

“Businesses can’t afford this brand of ‘tort reform’.” By David Loeb, Corpus Christi (Texas Trial Lawyers Association)

Consumers and business property owners need to be aware of what is going on and let your voices be heard before it is too late.

 http://www.caller.com/story/opinion/readers/2017/04/24/insurers-surviving-lawyers-just-fine-thanks/100839056/?platform=hootsuite

http://www.caller.com/story/opinion/readers/2017/04/25/businesses-cant-afford-brand-tort-reform/100884344/?platform=hootsuite

Use of Drones for Property Damage Insurance Claims Inspections

The adults are getting in on all the fun when it comes to personal drones. It was only a matter of time before the insurance industry found them useful too when assessing property damage insurance claims. From surveying the damages caused by storms, to inspecting roofs, to taking an inventory on insured crops, the drone has found its place in the business.

Allstate Insurance Company is using drones in Texas to conduct home inspections in the hail swaths. This is an effort to quickly handle more claims. Their plan is to compare the photographs taken by the drones to those already taken by field adjusters on the ground. Their intent is to free up more time for the adjusters to take care of other aspects of the claim all the while staying safer by not climbing ladders and onto roofs. Farmers Insurance says “we’ll get a faster inspection.” They say “it could take an adjuster a few hours to inspect this roof where a drone could do it in 20 minutes.”

drones for property damage inspections
State Farm testing drones for property damage inspections.

Is this truly what is best for the policyholder, a faster inspection? And will this savings in time for the insurance company result in lower premiums for the policyholders? I think we all know the answer to that question.  Nothing can replace the human eye when it comes to a thorough inspection of storm caused damage, especially hail damage. A lot of times, it is difficult to depict the damage from photographs taken by an adjuster who is actually on the roof. I can’t imagine that photographs taken using a drone would make this anything but more difficult.

inspects hail damage
Ron Crow, a FEMA public assistance officer inspects hail damage by a hail core spun off by a tornado on May 10. Photo by Win Henderson

A spokesperson from the Insurance Council of Texas believes that “the ladder might soon be a thing of the past.” Just another reason the policyholder is going to require the services of a licensed public adjuster to get a thorough inspection and estimate of the damages. If your insurance adjuster isn’t going to get on the roof, your public adjuster definitely is.

http://fortune.com/2016/09/02/allstate-drone-home-inspection-insurance/

http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article142863789.html

 

You Do the Math – The Push for a Legislative Remedy in Texas

A recent article by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram concerning SB10 proposing constraints on litigation surrounding hail claims in Texas includes some interesting numbers. According to the data contained in the article, there were nearly 400,000 hail claims filed in Texas in 2015 which resulted in 9,910 lawsuits. You do the math – that is a mere 2.4775%.

Based on these numbers, do we really need any legislative remedy?

The insurance companies want you to believe the claims that result in litigation are the cause of higher premiums and/or cancellations. Some of those companies even use the threat of pulling out of the state completely which they say would also result in an increase in premiums and narrow the pool of insurers to choose from.

Senate Bill 10 is not good for the Texas consumer and is yet another attempt at placing constraints on the consumer when it comes to being paid properly on a claim. Although more streamlined than previous attempts, SB 10 is still too broad and does nothing more than help pad the insurance industry’s pockets.

http://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/editorials/article136097893.html#storylink%3Dcpy

http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/news/2017/02/13/texas-lawmakers-file-bill-that-takes-aim-at.html

Looking to Place Limits on Hail Storm Litigation in Texas

Hail Storm Senate Bill 10 pending in Texas as a result of complaints and lawsuits filed following the major hail storms across South Texas. Texas Watch group is responding and calls these storm bills “tornadoes that are bearing down on every property owner in this state.” The passage of these types of bills would result in the policyholder being limited to whatever the insurance company says is right or good.

Read more at http://kxan.com/2017/02/14/hail-storm-bill-could-make-it-harder-to-sue-insurance-companies/

Why Hire a Public Adjuster or Other Claim Professional?

People frequently ask us questions like “why should I hire and pay my own adjuster when my insurance company already has an adjuster for me?” Well, the adjuster from the insurance company works for the insurance company, not you. Consequently, they have in mind what’s in the best interests of the insurance company. When you consider the items that the insurance adjuster may omit or miscalculate, it could potentially cost you a lot more than hiring a public adjuster to represent your interests.

The job of the licensed public adjuster is to conduct a thorough inspection of the damages and put together an estimate that fully encompasses the scope and costs of repair. They are also going to do their best to protect you from any unnecessary costs that might be suggested by the insurance adjuster, such as cleaning items that will end up having to be replaced in the end. Having someone who truly works for you also means that you will have an advocate to manage and negotiate the claim start to finish, relieving you of much time and stress.

Particularly when it comes to a large claim with a more complex scope of loss (fire, flood, tornado), it can be difficult for you to know if the estimate accounts for all damages accurately and if it is consistent with the coverage your policy provides. A public adjuster is trained in coverage questions and knows the tricks of the trade.

If your loss includes damage to your personal property as well, you must also consider the amount of time it consumes to document and inventory a large loss of this nature. The contents alone can literally take hours to put together. Then, you are still required to price those items and provide more documentation, which includes models, serial numbers, price verification, age, and condition. Most insurance companies do not have adjusters who inspect and inventory the contents loss for you – they will instead hand you a spreadsheet and tell you to get to work. Depending on the type and severity of the loss, the insurance company may even send a contents cleaning company out to take as much as possible to be cleaned. You can bet that in this case there will be many items taken to be cleaned that should without question be replaced, not cleaned and returned to you.

You wouldn’t use the same attorney as your spouse in a divorce, so why would you try to negotiate with an insurance company when there are professionals who do it for a living. These claim professionals (public adjusters) also know there is more to hail damage than just your roof — windows, gutters, vents, siding, etc. They know there is more to a flood claim than just sheetrock and paint — electrical, floors, windows, contents, etc.

No one has ever said insurance is fun. Just another reason for you to reach out to a public adjuster or other claim professional and get the answers you need to get the settlement you deserve.

Winter Weather Causes Property Damage – Hire a Public Adjuster

Cold weather is a bully and it will seriously expose the vulnerabilities in your home and launch its nasty attack. When extreme cold temperatures hit, so do the insurance claims. The cold weather can wreak havoc in the property insurance world because the claims that come in are usually spread throughout a very large portion of the country which means there is not a “pocket” of damage like we see when tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes or flooding occurs.

Winter’s cold weather claims naturally target homes that have a weaknesses and swallows them up as victims. This sounds like something from a horror movie but, if you think about it, this is true. When the extreme cold comes in, these deficiencies in your home become exploited and those vulnerable pieces are tested to the limits. The pipes that are not insulated well could freeze and burst, a small void in your fireplace might cause an ember to escape causing a fire, or it could be an electrical issue. Regardless of the weakness, old man winter is going to find it.

Here is a list of several areas that may be cause for concern:

• If you have plumbing in your attic or crawlspace, you need to make sure the pipes are adequately insulated.

• If the electrical system is not designed to handle the stress extreme cold causes, you may need an upgrade.

• If the home is not insulated well, additional areas of insulation may be a good idea.

These suggestions may be costly. Therefore, if you are unable to address them you may need to leave the water dripping, make sure your fireplace is functioning properly, and do your best not to stress the electrical components of the home.

Probably one of the biggest risks during winter storm season is the buildup from snow and ice. These perils are a threat to those big tree limbs overhanging the home which could break off causing major damage to the home. If you happen to escape winter this year without a limb falling on your house, consider yourself lucky and get those trees trimmed before the next storm season. You could also sustain damage from ice damning (buildup of ice accumulating at the bottom edge of roof). When the snow melts from the top, the damning causes a water back up under the shingles and into your home. Ice damns occur when the weather warms or heat from the attic space causes melting.

If old man winter does target you and cause damage to your home, you need to strongly consider using a public adjuster to comb through all damages and present this in the best possible way to your insurance company.  By design, this should increase your chances for a fair settlement.

In summary, if you live in an area where it tends to get a lot of snow accumulation, consult with a roofer to devise a plan that is right for your home to reduce the risk of ice buildup on your home. Your house can handle the cold bully as long as you know where it may attack.

by Roy Young, PA

New Year’s Resolutions – Hire a Public Adjuster

Out with the old and in with the new as we kick off 2017. Everyone is making New Year’s resolutions, including myself. Most of those include things like diet and exercise and more time with family and friends. Mine also includes better time management. This can apply to lots of areas of your daily life – personal and professional. Good time management includes not wasting time bothering with things someone else can do for you, such as handling a new or unsettled property insurance claim.

Did you know that there are professionals out there who are just waiting for you to contact them and they will do the work for you. There are licensed public adjusters, property damage attorneys, contents specialists, and other consultants and experts who will handle your claim for you. These various claim professionals can inspect, estimate, and/or negotiate your claim from start to finish or, depending on the situation, come in on a disputed or difficult claim and clean up the mess. A public adjuster is required to be licensed by the Department of Insurance (in most states) and is trained in reading your policy coverage. They have the knowledge, training, and expertise necessary to advocate on your behalf with no conflict of interest. Furthermore, they are a motivated advocate considering they work on a contingency fee basis and don’t get paid until you get paid.

Some people just don’t have time the deal with an insurance claim. More importantly though, most don’t have the knowledge and/or background to know what is covered in order to maximize payment of the claim. We use the word “maximize” your claim but what we really mean is get the claim paid fairly to begin with. So much gets left on the table, which goes right back into the insurance company’s pockets. That’s the way they want to keep it. Ask your agent or insurance adjuster and they will tell you that you don’t need to hire a public adjuster because they are going to take care of you. Well hire a public adjuster or other claim professional and see where the difference takes you. You just might be shocked.

If you have been so unfortunate to have experienced a fire lately then the situation may be even worse. The adjuster for the insurance company is likely going to hand you a sheet of paper and ask you to inventory all of your contents which were damaged by the fire. This includes the item description, brand, model and/or serial number, date purchased, place purchased, purchase price, age, condition, etc. We didn’t all just go out and fill an entire house overnight. These are things that we have accumulated over a lifetime of living in our home. This task isn’t as easy as one might think, especially when you get to what is in the drawers, doors, and closets. I mean seriously, I have 78 pairs of shoes and that doesn’t even count flip flops because those don’t count when the husband asks.

My time is valuable and I’m certain that yours is too. This New Year let’s all do ourselves a favor and maximize the use of our time doing what we are good at and leave what we aren’t to someone else.