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


After a Fire

Rick Tapanes - Friday, July 24, 2015

After a Fire Safety Is the First Concern

Last month we talked about how to be prepared in the event of a fire and what to do if you are caught in a fire. This article will cover some tips on what to do after a fire has hit your home. A fire can be a disorienting, frightening and even traumatic experience. It is important after a fire to keep a cool head and not to make any mistakes. Rebuilding will come later, but immediately after a fire your first concern should be to keep yourself and your family safe.

The first rule after you have gotten yourself and anyone else out of a burning building is not to go back in. Don't assume that a home is safe to reenter after a fire has been put out. Allow the authorities to inspect the building and determine when it is safe. In some cases, if the fire and damage to the structure are severe enough, the building may never be safe again.

Make sure to contact family members and friends to let them know what has happened and where things stand. If you are a tenant, a call to your landlord is also in order. Talk to the fire authorities about how to obtain a copy of the fire report that will be filled out. Your insurance company will need that. Next, call Guardian Adjusting to have an expert public adjuster come to your side and help you with the upcoming insurance claim process. Finally, contact your insurance company and report the fire to them. Some homeowner's insurance policies provide emergency funds for living expenses and lodging, and you may need those right away.

If the house is deemed safe to enter, the next step is to secure the house. You might need the help of a contractor to board up windows, and doors and well as make temporary fixes to insure that no one unwanted will enter the building. Looters can be a real issue in homes that have been damaged and are empty of occupants after a fire. Understand your homeowner's insurance policy as many make it your responsibility to keep the home safe while it waits to be repaired.

How Your Public Adjuster Will Help

Your public adjuster from Guardian Adjusting will help you get your life back to normal and act as the middle man between you and your insurance company, insuring that you get the maximum settlement owed to you to get your home repaired quickly. The public adjuster will perform their own thorough inspection of your property to make sure that all of the damage is properly documented and reported. In addition, your public adjuster can assist in quickly securing the materials and repairs your home will be needing. In short, a good public adjuster will help you get get your life back in order as quickly as possible.

The public adjusters at Guardian Adjusting have decades of combined experience handling fire damage claims in South Florida. Contact us today to meet one of our adjusters and know that they will be there, ready to help, when the time comes.

Hurricane Preparedness

Rick Tapanes - Saturday, July 11, 2015

Prepare For Hurricanes Before They are Even Approaching

Any time a hurricane approaches the coast you're likely to see scenes of people wasting their time and energy "preparing" for the storm. In fact, you might have seen these images so often that you think the folks shown are doing the correct thing. If a hurricane is approaching, forget about:

  • Rushing to a building supply store to buy plywood for your windows.
  • Taping up your windows.

If your house is in danger of being hit by a hurricane, protecting windows and sliding glass doors is almost always the number one thing you can do to ensure you'll have a livable house if the worst happens. But, if you wait until a hurricane watch is posted, you are almost surely too late. Taping up windows is a waste of time because tape isn't going to keep your neighbor's garbage can - which he should have stashed in a place where the wind can't grab it - from breaking your window when a 100 mph wind flings it at your house. True, the tape just might keep the glass from flying around the room when the garbage can hits it.

An important rule for any wind storm is to not be in a room with windows that can be broken. If your house doesn't have a windowless room, you should at least hide behind an overturned table or a heavy sofa in case glass starts flying. If you waste time taping your windows, about the best you can hope for is that the storm will miss your house, and the tape won't be too hard to remove.

While tape doesn't do much, heavy plywood or metal shutters are vital. But you can't wait until a storm is bearing down to go buy the plywood because by then it's almost surely too late. This is because the plywood has to fit the windows and it has to be firmly attached to them. Experts recommend using 3/4 inch plywood and drilling screw holes 18 inches apart all around it. Are you going to have time to do this after a watch is posted? This is the kind of thing that should be done well ahead of time so the window covers will be stored with the screws started, and everything you'll need to install them,such as a ladder and the correct size screwdriver handy. The big question you have to answer ahead of time is: Who's going to install the plywood covers, maybe with a 20 mph wind gusting to 30 mph as a storm approaches? It's probably a sure bet it's not going to be your 70-year-old mother, by herself.

Why is protecting windows so important? Once a window is broken, the wind blows inside to not only wreck the interior, but also to apply upward pressure on the roof, which might be enough to sent if flying. If this happens, the walls collapse and your house is done for. Protection can include impact-resistant glass, sturdy shutters, pieces of marine plywood marked and cut to fit each window and glass door, or other permanent materials that have passed the state of Florida or Miami-Dade County impact standards tests.

Here are some other things you should do before a tropical storm or hurricane watch or warning is posted:

  • Remove weak and dead trees or tree limbs on your property.
  • Know whether your home is in a zone that could be flooded by storm surge, meaning you'd have to evacuate.
  • Have plans for where you will go if you evacuate, when you will leave (maybe early to avoid traffic jams), and how family members will contact each other.
  • Make sure you have contact information for Guardian Public Adjusting Services to help you evaluate any damages after the storm.
  • If you might have to evacuate, have a "grab and run" bag ready with important papers, such as your home owners insurance policy, and prescription drugs.
  • If you live outside possible storm surge zones, and your house is sturdy, you should plan on riding out the storm in a "safe room" inside the house.
  • Have an evacuation or survival kit ready with nonperishable food, water, a first aid kit and other things you'll need.
  • Have a battery-powered radio, maybe a battery-powered television set for keeping up with the latest advisories.

Before a watch is posted, you should have done all of the things listed above. Then, you should stay tuned to forecasts and possible warnings from radio or television stations. If you are in an area that could be flooded, you should be ready to evacuate. Of course, if you are living in a mobile home, or a house that isn't sturdy enough to stand up to the wind, you should evacuate early and avoid the rush.

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