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Guardian Adjusting Blog
Tips and information on all types of property damage claims.

 

Before and During a Fire

Rick Tapanes - Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fire Safety Tips That Can Save Lives

It is not just the flames that can kill in a fire. Just as dangerous, or even more so, are the smoke and heat. What makes fires even more dangerous is how quickly they can spread and get out of control. In just thirty seconds a single flame can spread to engulf an entire room. In a minute or two that room will be filled with thick black smoke, making it difficult, or even impossible, to breath or see. The temperature can get as hot as 600 degrees. At that temperature clothing will melt on to skin and the air will scorch lungs if breathed in. After five minutes, flashover can occur. This is when it gets so hot that everything not already burning ignites all at once.

Fire Escape Plans Save Lives

As you can see, all of this can happen very quickly. There is no time to rescue valuables, only to get out and help others to get out. A fire escape plan can literally save lives. Without one there will be panic, confusion and potentially deadly decisions. Take some time to prepare a plan to get your family out of the house if a fire occurs. The plan should be practiced a couple of times a year so it that could be adjusted if necessary and so that it stays fresh in everyone's mind. Make sure to cover these points when designing your escape plan:

  • Identify at least two exits out of every room. Often this will be a door and a window.
  • Check the house for any stuck windows or doors.
  • Insure that security bars in windows and doors have a quick release and that everyone in the home understands how to use them.
  • Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark.
  • Designate a meeting place outside of the home.
  • Test fire alarms monthly. Dual sensor fire alarms that detect both smoke and heat are best.
  • Check fire extinguishers monthly.
  • Clean out storage areas of flammable materials and accumulated trash like newspapers and old magazines.

Know How to React in a Fire

When a fire breaks, quickly evaluate if it can be contained. Have someone call 911 while another person tries to control the fire. If it starts to get out of control, it's time to leave the home. Put your fire escape plan into place. If you can reach others, help them get out immediately. If they cannot be reached get yourself out and call 911. Let the dispatcher know if there is anyone in the house and where in the house they are. When firefighters arrive, advise them if there is anyone still inside, including pets.

If you find yourself in a building that is on fire, try to keep as calm as possible. Panicking can lead to serious, possibly deadly mistakes. Evaluate your situation and decide on the best escape route. If you encounter heavy smoke, drop to the floor and crawl to the exit. The heavy smoke produced in a fire contains poisonous gases that can cause you to pass out. Smoke rises, so the most likely place to find breathable air is close to the ground. Check door handles before opening any interior doors. If the handle is hot, opening the door will probably let flames and smoke into the room you are in.

Storm Season Tips

Rick Tapanes - Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What To Do After a Storm!

While your first instinct following a disaster may be to start cleaning up, it is important for your insurer to have an accurate account of the destruction. Before moving any debris or removing damaged belongings, make sure to take photos or video of the damage. Make a list to document your losses. If possible, save damaged items for your before contacting Guardian Adjusting Services. You must also take reasonable steps to avoid further damage to your home. It is your legal obligation to do so.

Even following a major disaster, most insurance companies have a time requirement for filing a claim. When calling Guardian Adjusting Services to report the loss, have your policy information handy, along with current contact information and your home inventory, if you have one. Speak with your Public Adjuster about claim-filing deadlines.

A homeowners policy only covers damage to your home and its contents, and a renters policy only covers belongings. If your car is damaged, a separate claim will need to be filed with your Public Adjuster.

A typical homeowners or renters policy does not cover flood damage. If you have a policy with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), your Public Adjuster will file a claim for that policy as well. Damage from a storm surge is considered flood damage

Public Adjusters work for you, the insured, not the insurance company. They are paid from the proceeds of your claims settlement, typically as a percentage of the total amount you receive. Not all states allow public adjusters, Florida being a state that allows, they must be licensed by the Florida Department of Financial Services. Before engaging a Public Adjuster, be sure they are licensed and ask for references and qualifications. In addition, the adjuster should provide the fees for these services in writing. If you do not receive money you will owe nothing to the Public Adjuster. When you choose a Public Adjuster, if the claims settlement you get from your insurance company does not meet your expectation. The Public Adjuster will work with the company to try to negotiate a better settlement. (ALL PUBLIC ADJUSTERS WITH GUARDIAN ADJUSTING SERVICES ARE LICENSED & INSURED)

The Claims Process After you have filed your claim, the Public Adjuster will arrange with the insurance company to send a claims adjuster to your home to assess the damage. The company adjuster will want to see all the damaged items you have removed from the home and any photos or video you have of things you removed to make the home safe. Generally, the more information you can provide the adjuster about the loss, the faster the claim can be settled. At Guardian Adjusting Services our Public Adjusters walk you through each step and make it as painless and smooth as possible.

The company adjuster will walk through your home to look at the damage. If your home was damaged in a storm they may also want to look at the outside of your home, your roof or your basement.

The Public Adjuster will provide the documentation and their assessment of the loss to your insurance company to help determine your claims settlement.

If your insurance company is not responding promptly to your claim, your Public Adjuster will contact the insurance company and ask for answers. It is their duty to fight for your rights as a home owner.

When you hire a public adjuster, they will review your insurance policy and then go through the same process of documenting and assessing the loss to your home. This may include a builders quote of the cost to rebuild, and make sure it is rebuilt back to it's original condition.

Payment of the Claim The payment for the contents or personal property will be made out to you. However, if there is a mortgage on your home, the payment for structural damage may be payable to you and your mortgage holder.

If the contractor finds hidden damage that was not discovered in the original assessment, contact your Public Adjuster to resolve the difference. The adjuster and the contractor will meet at the house to review the newly discovered damage and present a revised estimate to the insurance company.

Even after you have settled your claim, if you think of items that were not in your initial loss list, contact your Public Adjuster. Often times it is possible to have additional items paid even after the first payout.

Guardian Adjusting Services offers FREE Hurricane Preparedness kits and inspections. Contact us today for yours.


         
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