6 Tips To Prevent Storm Water Damage

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Ever since Superstorm Sandy, people have become accustomed to a usual routine in order to prepare for the worst. The usual activities like stocking up on a 3-day supply of water and non-perishable food, stockpiling flashlights and fresh batteries and a battery powered radio, planning an evacuation route over high ground ahead of time, and planning to use text messaging to communicate with family and friends during the storm are commonplace now. But for homeowners and business owners, there are some additional things you can do right now to prevent storm water damage to your home or commercial property.

So here are 6 Tips to Prevent Storm Water Damage to your home or business:

1. Take a look at your Landscaping.

Keep landscaping materials trimmed away from the roof at least 6 feet or more to prevent shingle damage from rubbing branches.

Clearing your yard of objects that could become airborne in high winds can prevent damage to windows.

 

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Keep Gutters Clean

2. Take a look at your Gutters.

A gutter system is supposed to channel water away from the roof and deposit it to a more friendly location.

But clogged gutters on the upper floors can cause water to back-flow into the home, almost guaranteeing water damage will happen.

In addition, make sure you have gutter extenders on the ground floor to make sure the water drains well away from your home to prevent basement flooding. By keeping gutters cleaned and well maintained you can prevent costly repairs from storm water damage.

3. While you’re up on the roof checking your gutters, check the Sealants

Nothing causes more water damage from storms than leaking sealants. Check all roofing penetrations such as stacks, skylights and chimneys for decaying sealants and make the repairs as needed. But it’s not just the roof that can leak from bad seals. Your windows, doors and siding can leak when aging sealants are in place. Apply caulk, tar, or silicone to prevent storm water from leaking into your home.

4. Take a look at your Attic Ventilation

This may seem like an odd way to prevent storm damages. But attic ventilation is crucial to preventing some forms of storm damages. During the winter months when snow and ice accumulate on your roof, ice dams can form when hot attic air can’t properly ventilate through the top of the roof. Not only can an ice dam be dangerous from falling icicles, it can also cause water to infiltrate through your shingles, no matter what their condition. Have a licensed and insured roofer check to ensure your attic ventilation is in working order before the storm season comes.

5. Utilities

No one wants their power, cable, telephone or water to go out during a storm, but you can be better prepared against utility interruptions if you ensure that the lines connecting your home to the grid are free and clear from any and all trees or shrubs that could topple over in heavy snow or high winds.
But heavy storms usually mean power outages . . . . Have a generator? Does your generator work and do you have enough fuel for it? Time to check that now . . .

And while we’re on the topic of utilities, consider using Surge Protectors: UL-Listed surge arrestors should be installed on all electrical service panels. Surge Protectors help protect your home electrical system, appliances and sensitive electronic equipment from the effects of lightening. Every power connection coming into your home should be protected including phone, satellite, cable and power lines. While power strips protect very little against electrical power surges, surge protectors that are installed correctly can not only protect your appliances and electronics but also help prevent electrical fires. But, if you don’t have time to get and install surge protectors . . .

UnPlug it: The easiest, and often most overlooked, way to prevent damage to your appliances and electronics is to unplug everything if you know that a storm is approaching. Disabling the connection to your electrical system is a sure way to prevent power surge damage.

 

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Sump pump failure

6. Sump pumps prevent flooded basements . . . but only when they work!

When was the last time you checked your sump pump? Go check it now, raise the float, and make sure it runs! Does the sump pump battery backup work? If you have a battery back-up, check it. If you don’t, call your plumber today and get a backup!

 

And remember: if storm water does damage to your home or business, call in the experts FIRST at Allegiance Public Adjusters at (215) 462-5540 and we’ll coordinate with your insurance company to get you dry . . because storm water damage can turn into a costly and dangerous mold problem in 72 hours or less if it’s not dried properly. We will make sure that your loss is properly documented and you are properly covered to the fullest extent of your policy. Because when a loss happens, the last thing you need is to worry if you are acting in accordance with your policy provisions. We will protect your interests, because we are your advocate!

 

11 Reasons You Should Hire a Public Insurance Adjuster

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helpYou’re at a disadvantage when you have house damage or a total loss of your home. You face a home insurance claims process that could easily stretch out for more than a year, require reams of paperwork and leave you mentally and physically exhausted.
Unless you’ve already run the gauntlet of a major home insurance claim, you don’t know what to expect.

At Allegiance Public Adjusters, we specialize in helping policyholders work through the insurance-claim process and show them how to recoup their losses. We have nearly 22 years of experience in the insurance industry and are a licensed public adjustment firm.

Unfortunately, most people don’t learn much about insurance until they have a loss. Allegiance Public Adjusters work on behalf of policyholders to help them get all that they’re entitled to from insurance claims. We help evaluate damage and rebuilding costs, track the flow of insurance payments and amounts due, and work with home insurance companies to expedite our clients’ insurance claims.

Here’s what takes many people by surprise when they have a home insurance claim, whether it’s due to fire or natural disasters.

 

1. A claim for a total loss of a house can cost less than rebuilding a damaged house.

New construction from scratch costs less per foot than construction for rebuilding. Often it’s “easier” to fix your problem if your house is simply gone, rather than to try to repair damaged sections. For example, when you start from scratch (new construction), you don’t have to tie into existing construction — some of which may be outdated, so you have a clean slate to start with. Also, it’s often more costly to bring your old house up to code than to start fresh.

 

2. If you have a mortgage, your insurance checks will be made out to you and your mortgage bank.

Your mortgage holder is likely listed as a “loss payee” on your home insurance policy, so payments for rebuilding are issued to both you and your lien holder. And don’t expect your mortgage holder to sign the check over to you. While each lender’s requirements differ, Policyholders have to endorse and send the check to the mortgage company, and it may sit in an escrow account until repairs are made. Mortgage banks typically release the funds back to you in three installments over the course of your reconstruction. Mortgage companies want to be sure your property is repaired before releasing payment to you. As a result, you may have to advance your own money for constructions costs until the mortgage company verifies the repairs.

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3. Insurers are increasingly issuing checks for “undisputed amounts”.

That is, they may realize that there is not a full agreement on the amount of damages but will issue payment for the amounts that they believe that they are liable. This doesn’t mean that you sign away your rights to continue the claim, just because you endorse and cash the insurer’s check. Unless the check is marked, “full and final settlement” (which is very rare), do not be afraid to cash the check.

 

4. Don’t sign a release on your home insurance claim.

This takes the home insurer off the hook for any future payments on your claim.
Insurance companies may ask the insured to do it when they think there’s a problem or big dispute coming. The home insurance policy does not require the insured to execute a release, so why should you?

 

5. Don’t let your insurance company replace your Pottery Barn stuff with Walmart stuff.

The values of particular items are often disputed in home insurance claims. If you’ve bought expensive items, your insurance company may say it can replace them with very similar items from Walmart or Target.
An Allegiance Public Adjuster will battle back and forth with the carrier. You are entitled to be paid for what you had — not a knock-off version of it.

 

6. Many condo owners have no idea that they need their own home insurance policies.

They think that the condo association’s policy covers their property. However, the association’s policy covers only common areas, typically up to the walls of your condo. If you want your own space and belongings protected, you need an HO-6 home insurance policy. Otherwise, all your belongings, furniture, appliances and cabinets are uninsured.
Without an HO-6, you may have no liability protection if you’re sued for something that happens within your condo, like a slip-and-fall injury.

 

7. If you’re evacuated, don’t sleep at a shelter.

Your home insurance covers your “additional living expenses” if there’s a mandatory evacuation, including hotels and food — even additional transportation costs.
There’s no need to sleep in a shelter when the insurer will pay for a hotel. Most policyholders don’t realize that they have this coverage.

 

8. After a widespread disaster, and many times after even relatively minor storm events, insurance companies will bring in company adjusters from out of state who aren’t familiar with local costs.

Adjusters from outside our area will not have a handle on how much tradespeople such as electricians or plumbers charge, or how much it costs to rebuild a house. Often they will rely on a software program called Xactimate — which isn’t very exact if you don’t account for local costs. They’re not as familiar with local building codes. Many out of state adjusters can’t comprehend that it will cost $300,000. or $400,000. to rebuild someone’s house. They can’t comprehend local building values if they are accustomed to handling total losses of $100,000. or $200,000.

 

9. People regularly settle for less than the total cost of their damages because they are exhausted.

Especially near the end of a complicated claim such as a total home loss, homeowners just want the process to be over. Even if your policy entitles you to “replacement cost” of your belongings, home insurance companies will initially issue checks for your belongings’ actual cash value. Then, later, when you replace the items, you need to submit your receipts to get the remainder due.
The reality is that most people don’t go back and submit receipts because they’re so frustrated with the claim and they just feel overwhelmed. They’ll settle for less and close the claim and rebuild for less, and most insurance companies know this.

 

10. The value of hiring an Allegiance Public Adjuster

Hiring an Allegiance Public Adjuster can put you on an even playing field with your insurance company. Your insurer may assign three different adjusters to work on your claim: one for “additional living expenses,” one for your personal property and one for the building portion of your claim. An Allegiance Public Adjuster  will be able to explain the process and work on your behalf handling the countless meetings, e-mails, phone calls and paper documents that flow for a large claim. Our clients can get on with daily life and leave the insurance adjusting to a professional. We are available 24 hours, seven days a week.

 

11. Public adjuster fees

We will calculate our fee based on a percentage of your total claim.
Even if you’re working with the best home insurance companies, it’s better to hire an Allegiance Public Adjuster early in the process in order to streamline your claim. Even if you have already submitted your claim, we can pick up the ball and maximize your settlement. Generally, the sooner we can get involved in the process, the better the results. This is because presenting the claim properly, from the beginning of the process, will go a long way in getting the best results.

Home Inventory: How to Document Your Personal Property

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A home inventory is a comprehensive report which includes detailed descriptions and photos of the personal property in and around your home. While considered a key component in documenting insurance claims, a home inventory is also valuable for estate and financial planning.

Importance of a Home Inventory

If you were to step outside your home, could you list all the personal property (e.g. furniture, clothing) items you own? Even if you could list everything, would you be able to provide detailed information—including the purchase date, cost, model, and serial number—on the contents of your home?

A home inventory ensures that homeowners are sufficiently prepared, in terms of their insurance coverage, to deal with potential losses. A detailed list of all the items destroyed, damaged, or stolen is required for an insurance claim. Proper documentation ensures a faster and smoother claims process, as well as maximizing your insurance reimbursement.

In fact, you must provide documented proof of ownership to receive a settlement covering the full extent of the loss. Most policyholders do not realize that the burden of proof rests with them. At Allegiance Public Adjusters, we specialize in going through your damaged contents and documenting that proof for you.

Benefits of a Home Inventory

Obtaining a comprehensive home inventory:

  • Ensures you have the necessary amount of insurance coverage.
  • Identifies items—such as jewelry, coins, antiques, artwork, and silverware—that have limited coverage. The decision can then be made to purchase additional coverage (known as a “rider”) so the items will be insured for their full value.
  • Verifies the condition of your assets before moving or placing them in storage in case of loss or damage.
  • Allows documentation of ownership of items lost as a result of fire or theft.

Information Included in an Inventory Report

The information gathered in a home inventory report includes:

  • Description
  • Model
  • Serial number
  • Cost
  • Purchase date
  • Manufacturer
  • Photos and video footage
  • Heir designation
  • Estimated or appraised replacement value
  • Scans of receipts and important documents

Compiling Your Own Home Inventory

The adjusters here at Allegiance Public Adjusters recommend an updated inventory at least once a year. In this way, you can properly document new purchases and additions, as well as document items that you may discard or give away. The simplest way to document your inventory is via video camera. With video cameras becoming more and more common place, as most smartphones and tablets contain one, it is one of the most common methods of documenting ownership. There are many different ways to approach a video inventory documentation, but the most common and effective method is to video each room with the contents placed where they are usually stored. For example, if you keep your jewelry box on your dresser as opposed to on your bureau, you’ll want to video the jewelry box on your dresser. Make sure to open each drawer, and video the items in those drawers. Likewise, your closets will need to be filmed with the items on shelves and hanging on closet poles. Make sure that the items can be identified with some detail, especially items of greater value. Continue this process in each room using the same methodology. For example, you’ll want to video the items in your china cabinet, your kitchen cabinets/drawers, etc. The video will be very helpful in supplementing the scanned receipts you may have while at the same time provide proof of its existence in the case of items without a receipt.

Hiring an Inventory Specialist

An alternative to conducting your own home inventory is to hire a reputable company to compile it for you. Advantages include:

  • Credibility: Using an inventory specialist lends credibility to your inventory for insurance companies, financial planners, and law enforcement.
  • Time: The inventory can be taken and compiled within one week.
  • Expense: Hiring an inventory service is affordable and is money well spent when damage, theft, or death occurs.
  • Information: Complete and detailed information for each item—including photos and scans of receipts—is compiled to assist in claims or probate. Video footage is also taken to support ownership of property.
  • Security: Data from your inventory is encrypted and stored at a back-up facility—ensuring security should your copies be lost or destroyed.

How to Choose an Inventory Specialist

When hiring an inventory specialist, be sure they have and provide the following:

  • Performance bond.
  • Insurance coverage against accidental damage to personal property.
  • Signed guarantee certificate that the client’s information will be kept strictly confidential, and the steps that will be taken to ensure this occurs.
  • Statement of work defining what is to be inventoried and how the information will be delivered.
  • The means used to secure the data is clearly defined.
  • Renewal policy that details the cost of updating your inventory.
  • Review a sample inventory portfolio so you can see what you will be receiving.
  • Ask any questions that you may have concerning what will be provided.

Keeping a Home Inventory Secure

Once your home inventory is complete, store the information in a safe location away from your house such as a safe deposit box,  or by uploading it to a secure data backup provider.

After a Loss

Our professional claims consultants are here to represent your interests and assist you in preparing, filing and negotiating your insurance claim. It is our job to relieve you of all aspects of the claim process and recover the maximum monetary settlement from your claim. You’re already dealing with enough stress and loss; we’re here to help lighten the load. Allegiance Public Adjusters is here to handle all your insurance claim needs. Whether it’s your home or your business that sustained damage; whether the damage was a result of vandalism, theft, water, wind or fire; whether you have documented your personal property belongings or not; give us a call to speak with a Philadelphia public adjuster about your claim immediately. We are specialists at getting you back on your feet. With twenty-two years of experience dealing with insurance companies and the many facets of a property damage claims, we will always advocate for you, our client.

Why Insurance Reps Prefer Working with Accredited Public Adjusters

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A million thoughts run through most peoples’ minds in the aftermath of a disaster such as fire or theft. The first thing is their sense of loss or violation. After that, the most important thing people think about is whether they can be made whole again. They wonder what it will take to return to conditions as they existed before the fire ravished their home or thieves invaded their property, etc. It is definitely not the time to add on top of the loss one has just experienced, the further complication of having to recall the countless provisions that can be contained in a person’s life insurance policy.

Yet, that is what many people do who pour over their insurance policies and try to go it alone with their insurance company. They trust the insurance company to use their adjusters to go over their damaged property; however, this is a bad idea. First, adjusters hired by the insurance company do not necessarily represent your best interest when assessing a policy holder’s property damage. Second, and most importantly, insurance representatives actually prefer working with an accredited public adjuster instead of the policy holder. This is because most people don’t know what exactly is in their insurance policy. After all, people usually buy their insurance policy and then store it away hoping to never have to use it. A policy can contain hundreds of provisions and stipulations, complex and specialized terms, and various forms and riders not to mention the yearly revisions that are often made to one’s policy. All this makes a property damage claim a very tricky and complicated thing.Featured image

But it is not tricky for Allegiance Public Adjusters. We at Allegiance Public Adjusters are public loss consultants who can help take on the trouble out of muddling through your policy. We work with insurance representatives but are not beholding to them or to their shareholders. We represent your interests and we understand the hundreds of provisions a policy can hold and can make sure you are compensated for your loss. We are a Philadelphia public adjuster firm that takes its fee from a percentage of the settlement our clients reach with their insurance company. Free policy review and on site damage consultations are even available for prospective clients.

In a time of disaster or emergency the last thing you want to do is go over a morass of insurance lingo on some long forgotten policy. You want things to return to the way they were before your property was damaged. You want to be made whole again. Allegiance Public Adjusters will work with the insurance companies to put things back in order so that you can resume a life put on hold by the unexpected and unwanted.

Disaster Strikes When You Least Expect

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Property damage is always a headache. Sometimes you catch a problem early enough for a quick and relatively painless fix; but sometimes, you don’t even know what’s happening until it’s too late and the damage has spread. In either situation, the biggest hassle is dealing with the insurance companies. You’re not a professional claims consultant or insurance agent. You can’t be expected to know absolutely everything you need to know to negotiate your property damage claim. You’re already dealing with a stressful crisis so adding a number of frustrating conversations with your insurance company on top of that is certainly not ideal. This is where a public adjuster, like one of us here at Allegiance Public Adjusters, comes in to save the day.

Our professional claims consultants are here to represent your interests and assist you in preparing, filing and negotiating your insurance claim. It is our job to relieve you of all aspects of the claim process and recover the maximum monetary settlement from your claim. You’re already dealing with enough stress and loss; we’re here to help lighten the load.

Thinking you can probably just handle everything on your own? Well unless you are an insurance agent yourself, I’d think again. Let me tell you about an unfortunate occurrence that happened to my friend Lilly…

Last year, Lilly was on vacation with her family in Spain. This was their first trip to Europe so they were all very excited. They turned off all the lights in the house, locked all their doors and set off on their two week journey with big smiles on all of their faces. Since they had no pets or plants to water they saw no need to have someone checking in on theFeatured image house.

So Lilly and family were off having a great time without a care in the world, but little did they know a disaster was happening back home. A pipe burst in the kitchen at some point while they were gone and flooded the whole bottom floor of their home. Can you imagine coming home from a magical trip, opening your front door and out comes a stream of water that ruined everything it touched while you were away? This is not the best welcome home present in the world to say the least.

At first, Lilly and her husband thought they could handle everything on their own. But after many a frustrating conversations with their insurance company, Lilly broke down and gave me a call. I stepped in and took care of every aspect of their insurance claim so they could focus on recovering from the disaster.

Allegiance Public Adjusters is here to handle all your insurance claim needs. Whether it’s your home or your business that sustained damage; whether the damage was a result of vandalism, theft, water, wind or fire; whether you think you can handle it on your own or not; give us a call to speak with a Philadelphia public adjuster about your claim immediately.

Some Things Are Best Left to the Professionals

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More often than not it is best to let a professional take the reins when you are faced with a property damage situation. These situations often involve a significant amount of work that you may not completely understand and some cleanup efforts might even involve health risk factors. A professional public adjuster, such as Allegiance Public Adjusters, will know exactly how to get your home back into a healthy, livable condition without spending too much money. The following are some situations under which you may want to consider hiring a professional to handle your property damage claim

Fire Damage

One of the Featured imageworst situations you could find yourself facing is a home fire. The resulting property damage is far beyond just the charred items; you also have to deal with the smoke that filled your home and the damage to the structural components that was caused by the water used to put out the fire. The bottom line is, removal of the charred items is one thing but restoring your home to a livable condition is a whole other matter. Even a small fire that only damages one room can have a significant financial impact. Figuring out what your insurance covers compared to the amount of work that needs to be done can be a complicated process.

Water Damage

Water damage can Featured imagestem from a plethora of home disaster situations. Burst pipes, overflowing drains, floods and even silly things like forgetting you were running a bath can all leave behind water damage. Excess water can saturate every absorbent material in your home—carpets, drywall, wood, you name it! Water damage can be disastrous. In the aftermath of a water damage emergency you not only have to worry about removing the damaged items but you also have to take the steps necessary to prevent a future mold problem. Let’s not forget, you have to assess the structural damage to figure out what rebuilding is required. This is another potential financial debacle.

Mold Issues. Biohazard Concerns. Natural Disasters. So Many More…

When you really get down to it, it is basically always best to have a professional public adjuster handle your insurance claim. Each specialized situation you may find yourself in requires specific knowledge and care that only professionals like Allegiance Public AdjusFeatured imageters have.

There is a reason our motto is “we’re your advocate.” We are trained and certified to make sure you experience the best possible outcome after you’ve been hit with some unfortunate circumstances. We will make sure the job is done right and the financial burden is minimal. So the next time you find yourself faced with a disastrous situation don’t freak out, just give Allegiance Public Adjusters a call.