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It’s hard to believe that we’re in hurricane season already! Ready or not here it is.

I read a really good article produced by AmWINS Group Inc., one of the companies we proudly represent, that contained sound claim tips for the in the event we have a catastrophe. I share some of their article with you below:

Claim Tips

Severe weather can be unpredictable and strike at any time. We recommend considering the following tips to achieve fast, efficient handling of your claim.

  1. Assess the damage to the best of your ability and be prepared to give an accurate description of the amount and type of damage. Make sure you state whether the premises were rendered inhabitable as a result of the damages. This will allow your company to send out an adjuster with the appropriate level of experience, based on the level of damage. 
  2. Notify your insurance carrier or agent as soon as possible. The insurance contract requires notification as soon as possible after a loss. Be sure to leave a telephone number where you can be contacted and a complete address of the location so the company can get an adjuster to the scene quickly. Be sure to stay in touch with your adjuster and respond to calls promptly. Catastrophes can generate hundreds of claims, so communication and cooperation is vital for a quick resolution to your claim. 
  3. Take the necessary steps to avoid or minimize the suspension of business. Costs incurred that reduce your business interruption loss may be covered under Extra Expense. Be familiar with your policy coverage before you suffer a loss. 
  4. Make whatever temporary repairs are necessary to prevent further damage, theft, or vandalism. Repairs of this kind could include boarding up broken windows and covering holes in the roof. Mitigating your damage is usually a condition of coverage, and is good advice regardless (your insurance will usually cover the reasonable cost of temporary repairs). DO NOT make permanent repairs to your damaged property unless the adjuster has reviewed your claim and given you permission to restore your property. 
  5. Photograph damaged areas prior to making temporary repairs if possible. Doing so will strengthen your claim and help with the presentation of your loss. 
  6. If you can, get one or two detailed estimates for permanent repairs from a reliable contractor and give these estimates to the adjuster. Beware of “fly-by-night” operators who often follow a storm into town. Check with the Better Business Bureau before doing business with any vendor you don’t know.  We recommend knowing the reputable contractors and restoration companies in your area, who you prefer to use, before you suffer a loss. 
  7. Refrain from signing any contract for restoration or repairs prior to discussing it with your company adjuster. Your adjuster can play a key role in helping you avoid price gouging after a catastrophe, but he/she won’t be able to negotiate a reasonable price for services if you’ve already signed a contract. Remember your insurance company is NOT bound by the contracts you sign. 
  8. Prepare an inventory of all damaged or destroyed property for the adjuster. Be sure to keep a copy for your records, and be sure NOT to discard ANY items before the adjuster is given a reasonable amount of time to inspect them. Provide available cancelled checks, invoices, etc. that support the value of damaged or destroyed property. 
  9. Keep ALL receipts and invoices for EVERY expense you incur after the loss, including items such as tarps, boards, cleaning supplies, etc. These costs add up quickly and may help erode your deductible. 
  10. It is always a good idea to read through your policy and review coverage and exclusions prior to a claim so you will know what to expect. Keep an updated inventory of all of your property. Seemingly insignificant items can add up quickly and should be submitted for review and consideration.

Warning

Unlicensed or unscrupulous persons may pose as adjusters or, being an adjuster, may pose a threat to consumers. Public adjusters, in particular, may pose a problem since they don’t work for any company or company-adjusting firm. Unlicensed public adjusters have not demonstrated their competency to adjust claims nor have they posted the required surety bond. You are encouraged to report any such activity to local authorities. Remember, if you contract with a public adjuster, you are authorizing the claim check to be made payable to both you or your mortgagee and the adjuster.

Legal Disclaimer:

Views expressed here do not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein is for general guidance of matter only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Discussion of insurance policy language is descriptive only. Every policy has different policy language. Coverage afforded under any insurance policy issued is subject to individual policy terms and conditions. Please refer to your policy for the actual language.

This article was reproduced from the AmWINS Group Newsletter. Natalie Dominguez with AmWINS Brokerage of Georgia contributed to this article.

Water damage is one of the most common, costly and disruptive disasters affecting homeowners and renters.

Here are nine easy to follow tips that could save you a lot of trouble and expense:

Routinely inspect all hoses and lines on washing machines, dishwashers and ice-makers for kinks, cracks or evidence of deterioration, replace them as needed.

Periodically pour a cup of vinegar or mild bleach solution down the Central Air Conditioning drain line to reduce algae and mold. Check the drip pan under the evaporator coils monthly for standing water and have your unit serviced by a qualified technician on a regular basis.

Drain and clean the water heater as recommended by the manufacturer. Inspect your water heater annually for rust, cracks and leaks.

Check for cracks or mold on caulking in your tubs, showers and sinks. This may indicate the seal is no longer watertight. Remove old caulk, clean thoroughly and dry before applying new caulk.

Check your toilets, if the tank takes a long time to fill up or runs constantly, consider replacing the fill valve and/or the float. Replace copper and plastic or any worn toilet supply lines with flexible, reinforced hoses.

Have your roof inspected annually, look for cracked or missing shingles, tiles, rotted wood or exposed areas near pipes, chimneys and vents.

Clean out gutters once or twice each year. Make sure downspouts are connected properly and carry water away from the foundation.

Make sure everyone in your household knows where the main water valve is in the home, as well as how and when to turn it off.

Before traveling, turn off the water at the main valve and try not to leave the house unattended while the washer or dishwasher is running.

Read the fine print

April 12, 2017 — Leave a comment

You know your business best. Make sure that the agent you’re working with is interested in finding out about it. – YOUR BUSINESS – 

You know your personal life best. Similarly if your agent doesn’t take the time find out about it they will not be able to help you to sleep well at night.

The more questions they ask and the more you share in terms of your operations, the better chance of understanding the risks and exposures involved and therefore reducing the odds of potential gaps in your insurance program.

Many business owners and individuals buy insurance based on price and this approach can lead to limiting or excluding coverages which become extremely relevant in the event of a claim.

Insurance is about managing risk. Therefore thinking through the various aspects of your operations and uncovering the risk factors involved and then obtaining quotes for coverages that will protect you against these threats will allow you to make an informed decision about what risks you are willing to take and to what extent you purchase coverage.

That being said it is always a good idea to read your policy ahead of time.

Insurance is an agreement between you and the insurance company and the policy describes that agreement. The best way to avoid any surprises is to know what the agreement says before you need it.

There are certain things that are not covered. There are duties expected of you before and after damage or injury. It is not the most interesting read but highly recommended. Read a little everyday and in a few days you’ll be done.

In my experience most people only read their policies when they have coverage denied for a claim and by that time it is usually too late. And this causes a lot of stress.

Become familiar with your agreement and ask questions about anything you do not understand.  You may end up choosing one company over another because of something in the agreement (not the price) which makes it more suitable to you. 

One thing that we all want to know is that the insurance company will be there if and when we have a loss. We have seen companies go bankrupt and while there may be some recourse if this happens, a good precautionary step whenever possible, is to select a company that has a good rating. This will help to minimize the chance of choosing a company that goes sour.

Become familiar with A.M. Best and similar rating companies.

A.M. Best is a US-based rating company that focuses on the insurance industry. They are a Nationally Recognized statistical Rating Organization that focuses exclusively on the insurance marketplace. They issue financial-strength ratings which measure insurance companies’ ability to pay claims.

The company reviews the balance sheet, operating performance, management issues and profile of insurance companies and issues a rating based on their findings. While their rating is no guarantee of the future it does provide a basis of comparison for us as we shop for Auto Insurance, Home Insurance, Commercial Insurance and/or Business Insurance and other types of insurance policies.

Their rating system looks something like this:

  • A++, A+ (Superior)
  • A, A- (Excellent)
  • B++, B+ (Good)
  • B, B- (Fair)
  • C++, C+ (Marginal)
  • C, C- (Weak)
  • D (Poor)
  • E (Under Regulatory Supervision)
  • S (Rating Suspended

They also provide categories for the financial size of a company.

I suggest when shopping for insurance to ask your agent for the A.M. best rating and financial size of any company they are proposing or visit A.M. best www.ambest.com yourself and type in the carriers name and do some research.

While this does not give you any guarantees it does provide you with relevant information to assist when obtaining insurance.

*** For home insurance in Florida – Most of the companies writing Homeowners Insurance in Florida are domiciled in Florida and very few of these companies are eligible for an AM Best rating. The main rating company to research for Florida based companies is a company named Demotech. You can search for a rating here: www.demotech.com