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

 

2016 Hurricane Season

Rick Tapanes - Wednesday, June 22, 2016

2016 Hurricane Season Will Be Close to the 30 Year Average

The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season is here and the forecast calls for a storm season close to the historical average. Property owners in South Florida and along the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts would be wise to take note. Now is the time to prepare your property for the possibility of a hurricane or strong tropical storm making landfall and potentially causing damage.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30 with peak storm activity occurring from July to October. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center has predicted the formation of 12 named storms with five of those developing into hurricanes and two into major hurricanes this season. The average over the last 30 years has been 12 named storms with six developing into hurricanes and three into major hurricanes.

A major hurricane is one of Category 3 or stronger. Category 3 hurricanes have sustained winds of 111-129 mph. The highest hurricane category, Category 5, has sustained winds greater than 157 mph. Hurricane Andrew, which made landfall in South Florida in August of 1992, was a Category 5 hurricane.

Interestingly, these predictions to not include Hurricane Alex which formed in January. Hurricanes outside of the regular season are rare but do occasionally develop. Hurricane Alex was a Category 1 hurricane that struck the Azores islands, 800 miles east of Portugal. This was the first January hurricane since 1955.

Landfall Difficult to Predict

Historically, a busy hurricane season does not necessarily correlate with hurricanes making landfall. Property owners and residents in areas that could be affected should make preparations regardless of the forecast for the season. It is possible that one or more of the named storms expected this season could strike the US, but it is also possible that we will avoid every one of them. Looking back again to 1992 we can see an example a very quiet storm season with only six named storms - half of what is expected this year. The one storm that did make landfall was the aforementioned Category 5 Andrew which had a devastating effect on Miami-Dade County. Compare that to the very busy 2010 hurricane season which saw none of its 19 named storms, 12 of which became hurricanes, make landfall.

Are We Due for a Major Hurricane?

The NOAA says that the average number of yearly hurricane landfalls in the US is one or two. The last 10 years, however, have seen an average much lower than that with a total of seven hurricane landfalls. It is likely that the US will be struck by another hurricane sooner rather than later, but it is not possible to predict if it will happen this season. It should be noted that even a tropical storm making landfall could cause major damage, especially if it is slow moving and brings heavy amounts of rain.

In the end what a busy hurricane season really means is that there will be more storms to keep an eye on as they develop and move through the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Property owners are encouraged to stay abreast of storm activity and have a plan in place in the event that a storm approaches. One part of that plan should be to review your property insurance policy. The public adjusters at Guardian Adjusting can help you review your policy and ensure that you have sufficient coverage. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

Roof Leaks and Water Damage

Rick Tapanes - Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Does Your Policy Cover Roof Leaks?

When it comes to water damage, homeowners’ insurance policies become a bit complicated and specific. Damage from flood waters, which insurance companies define as being caused by rising water from an existing body of water entering a property, requires a seperate flood policy to cover it. Conversely, if your living room becomes “flooded” by rain water coming in through a leaky roof, a flood insurance policy won’t help. The majority of property insurance claims are for water related events, yet most policyholders do not have a clear understanding of what water damage they are covered for.

The first thing to do is review your property insurance coverage to understand exactly what is and is not covered. Talk to your insurance agent or a public adjuster at Guardian Adjusting. Your public adjuster can identify any holes in your coverage and make sure that you are ready for any eventuality.

Perform Regular Maintenance

The typical homeowner’s insurance policy will cover water damage caused by accidental events. The most common reason for a denial of a water claim is neglect and failure to perform regular maintenance. So, imagine that a storm brings a large amount of rain with it and suddenly your roof starts leaking in several places. Some furniture and drywall is damaged and a large portion of the carpet and floor becomes soaked. The next morning your insurance company’s adjuster gets up on your roof where she finds no visible damage. There are no roof tiles blown off by the wind or damage from a tree branch that hit the roof. The insurance company’s stance will be that the damage is due to negligence and failure to properly maintain the roof, which is the homeowner' responsibility. Similarly, any water coming in to the property through a leaky pipe or crack in the wall falls to the homeowner to prevent through routine maintenance.

Other things you may have trouble securing a claim for are improperly installed plumbing fixtures that leak, and malfunctioning appliances like refrigerators, ice makers and air conditioners. All of these items require maintenance and sometimes replacement and will not be covered by the majority of homeowners’ insurance policies.

On the other hand, you may be surprised to learn that damage resulting from these leaky roofs, walls and appliances is often covered. So, although your insurance company is not going to fix your roof, it is likely that your policy covers damage to floors, and furniture due to those leaks.

The best advice is to know what your property is covered for before the damage hits. Maintain a relationship with a public adjuster from Guardian Adjusting to stay on top of your insurance coverage and for the peace of mind of knowing that they will be there in an emergency to protect your interests.

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.

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.

Have you prepared your Home for Storm Season?

Rick Tapanes - Thursday, April 23, 2015

A few steps you can take to protect your home from storms

If you are like most folks you wait until a storm is imminent to start making sure your home is secure. In many cases, by then, it is too late. Taking the time before hand to secure your home can bring you great peace of mind. If you are preoccupied that your home is not prepared for the punishment doled out by severe storms, here are some steps you can take to prepare. Imagine a storm is hitting now. Don't wait until you hear a hurricane, tornado or the mother of all storms is coming. What would you do to prepare? Do those things now! Take care of the things you can do beforehand so you don’t have to scramble to get them done at the last minute.

You don’t want to be in the long lines at the grocery store days or hours before a major storm. Dedicate a section in your pantry for water, dry goods and canned food for storm emergencies. At least three days' worth of food is recommended.

A generator is a good item to have on standby. But remember, fuel is NOT one of the things you should be stockpiling! Getting fuel is best left for the get last minute. If you are fortunate enough to live in an area that dodged a major storm, make sure to utilize the fuel you have, as it is hazardous to store for a prolonged period of time.

This is also a great time to check in with your insurance adjuster if you haven't thought about your homeowners insurance for some time. Hiring the services of a public adjuster to identify gaps in your coverage is a good idea. Especially when storm season gets closer. Before a disaster strikes is the time to sit down with your insurance adjuster to be certain you are properly insured. If you live in an area that has hurricanes and floods, it’s important to get the right type of insurance coverage. Most standard homeowners’ policies don't include flood insurance, flood insurance is provided through the National Flood Insurance Program and works differently from standard homeowners’ coverage.

Secure the house If your home is in the path of a hurricane or tornado, there isn't much you can do to truly protect it. Boarding up windows and doors if a huge storm is coming, may mitigate some of the damage but most often it can’t stop a direct hit by a violent storm. If time is short and it looks like a severe storm, then you're better off doing the following;

  • Gather family items and important paperwork
  • Secure and store all loose items outside your home
  • Prepare your shelter (where you will ride the storm out)
  • Know your evacuation route

Make a plan Know where to go when the storm comes. Some homes simply are not safe to remain in when the weather gets really rough. If you live in a mobile home you must find shelter elsewhere. Most municipalities will have designated shelters during such times of emergency. Make sure every family member knows plan and has access to emergency numbers. Everyone should be familiar with evacuation routes and know where you are meeting up if you get separated.

Tree Maintenance Trees are beautiful things, but those too close to your home during a storm can lead to a dangerous situation. Strong winds or a lightning strike can cause your favorite tree to come crashing through the living room window. If trees are touching your roof, trim those back. Don’t forget to check your yard for anything else that could cause damage. Keep debris out of your yard, and you can prevent minor damage from turning into major damage.

Guardian Adjusting can help you prepare to face serious weather, especially the violent storms and hurricanes that hit South Florida. We can make sure you are properly insured, guide you on storm preparation and safety, and be there to help repair your home if you experience property damage in a storm. Call us today to meet with one of our adjusters.


         
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