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

Think You Have a Personal Injury Claim?

I have a friend who tripped and fell over some landscaping in my neighbor’s yard which resulted in my friend breaking his arm. He immediately was upset over the incident and said he wanted to sue my neighbor. Does he really have a claim? Not all injuries result in a valid claim against another individual or company.

When assessing whether or not you have a legitimate personal injury claim, one of the first things one must ask is “did the wrongdoer act as a reasonable prudent person under the same or similar circumstances.” What you’re really asking is, “would a normal individual who was acting sensible have acted in the same manner as the ‘wrongdoer’ in your incident.” If the answer is yes, then you don’t have a claim. If the answer is no, then you MAY have a claim depending upon the incident and the law that regulates such an incident. For instance, if you were injured on another’s property, then it makes a difference if you were trespassing, if you were an invited guest, or if you were customer buying something at a retail store.

There are many factors to consider. The first thing you should do if you are injured is call 911 or have a loved one or friend drive you to the hospital. You should also take pictures of your injuries and have a loved one or friend make notes of what happened. The facts surrounding how you became injured are very important in determining if you have a valid claim. You should then contact a qualified personal injury attorney who will listen to the circumstances surrounding your injuries and then make a determination of whether you have a case.

Another important factor in considering whether you should or should not assert a claim against a third party is the extent of your damages. Were you simply bruised or did you sustain objective injuries like a broken arm? Most reputable attorneys will not handle your case if you did not sustain objective injuries.

All of these questions highlight the importance of seeking the advice of a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Most who specialize in this area work on a contingency fee, which means they get paid when you get paid.

Let an expert do the work for you.

by Preston J. Dugas III, attorney at law

The Advantages of Hiring a Public Adjuster or Other Claim Professional

Last week we talked about what a public adjuster is and what their background and training includes. Now let’s talk about why you should hire a public adjuster and the many advantages it can bring to your claim.

People frequently ask 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 doesn’t work for you; they work for the insurance company and therefore have the best interests of the insurance company in mind. True that they don’t cost you anything? – NOT true actually. When you consider the items that their adjuster may either omit from the estimate altogether or just miscalculate the value of, it could potentially cost you a lot more than hiring a public adjuster to represent you.

Flooding Texas 2016
Flooding in Granbury, Texas Fall 2016

The job of the public adjuster is to conduct a thorough inspection of the damage 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.

fire claim
Fire claim in Frisco, Texas.

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 and then you are still required to price those items and provide more documentation including 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 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 no 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 are entitled to.

Don’t Get Blindsided by a Denial Letter

As we go through the first weekend of some serious football, the word blindsided starts getting tossed around a bit. This word also applies when you’re talking about insurance claims and particularly denial letters. Just the word DENIED itself is definitely a momentum killer. When it comes to an insurance claim, receipt of a denial letter immediately impedes any progress. Although some denial letters are definitely warranted, others are based solely on the adjuster’s opinions and have no factual support for the denial at all.

denial-letterIn the world of insurance, adjusters and insurance companies interpret the policy language in their favor if ever there is any wiggle room. The general public are not experts at reading and interpreting policy language. Sometimes a denial will result from a simple misunderstanding of the origin of the damages, while other times the denial comes from manipulating the facts in favor of the insurer. This is exactly why it is important to hire a claim professional on your side to review the cause and damages, and then relate those to the terms and conditions of the policy.

If you find yourself in the middle of a denial situation, it is important to make sure that you have all the right documentation. You may also need an expert to determine the exact origin of the damages and the appropriate chain of events. If the denial is the result of a prior claim, you definitely will be required to provide receipts and photographs that depict the work that was performed to replace and repair the previous damage. If the denial is a question of coverage as a result of questioning the cause of the damage, then a claim professional on your side is going to be your best option.

If for any reason you believe that the denial is possibly a grey area or the human element of processing the claim could have been a factor in the outcome, reach out to a public adjuster or other claim professional to further investigate the loss to protect your interests.

They Want To Do What?

While talking to attorneys, public adjusters, and policyholders about what Claimside does and how we work, we get to hear all the crazy claim stories. Call me strange or call me boring, but I find these stories fascinating. Story after story of an insured not getting a fair shake or down right being taken advantage of.

One of the more recent stories involved a fire claim as a result of a lightning strike. Almost the entire second story of the home was damaged or destroyed, including the rafters and framing. The insurance company wanted the owner to tarp the roof to avoid further damage to the interior of the home. Well I’m not a contractor, but you don’t have to be to figure out that just doesn’t quite sound right.

First of all, that would potentially lead to unsafe access to the roof and would require temporary framing to be constructed in order to properly support the tarping. Without the proper support, you are potentially exposing the property to further damage because, if it rains, the tarp turns into a pool which potentially collapses and empties into your home. Now then we have a problem Houston. In addition to just how crazy this sounds, the insurance company also wants you to pay for this tarping out of your insurance claim proceeds (which is a total waste of your money that you will desperately need for the reconstruction of your home).

Fire claim
Fire claim 2016.

In addition to the structure damage, the contents of your home have also been damaged by the fire. These types of events cause lots of damage – fire, smoke, water and secondary effects of water (mold). The insurance company wants to try to clean as much as they can, instead of replace, but we all know that you just can’t get that smoke smell out. Have you ever test driven a used vehicle that was previously owned by a smoker? The dealership runs it through the mill and cannot get rid of that smell.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are arguing with the insurance company over coverage and/or damages, it is wise to seek the help of a claim professional. Locating and retaining claim help can protect you and your assets.