How to Prepare for a Fire for Insurance Purposes

Whether you are looking for information due to the recent Colorado fire damage or just looking in general, making sure that you know what to do after a fire is important to ensure that you get the most out of your insurance coverage. Replacing everything in your home can be a costly process, but by taking the right steps in cataloging what you have lost you may make it easier for your insurance to help you.

The first thing you should have is a fire-proof safe where you can keep a variety of important information that you will need in case of an emergency. Choosing a great safe may cost you a little more in the long run, but choosing one that is water and fire proof will ensure that your papers and important information remains dry and readable. In this safe, you should keep important documents such as the deed to your home, insurance coverage and contact information, and also a comprehensive list of the items in your home.

You may have several items that are insured individually on your policy like jewelry, but keeping a comprehensive list of everything of value in your home with pictures is a great way to make sure that you get full replacement value for your items.

Start by listing the information about your home and the renovations that you have made and include digital pictures of those renovations on a memory stick. You will also want to include anything of value in your home including electronics, garden equipment, and furniture. Carefully photograph all of these items with a digital camera and put the photos on a memory stick that you keep in your safe. This detailed list of items with pictures could be the difference between getting the minimum damage costs and getting full replacement value for your items.

A little preparation will go a long way towards making the replacement of all of your valuables an easy process. Make sure that you add specifics like model numbers and retail price and take pictures of the model numbers to confirm that information for the insurance company. Taking the time to create a detailed list of your possessions before a natural disaster will help you rebuild and move on with your life as easily as possible.

Property Damage Claims Tips

What is property damage? Property damage is an insurance policy which pays for damage caused to the property owner.  This can include home damage, damage to commercial buildings, material contents stored in property when the damage occurred, and vandalism.

BASICS

I cannot stress enough how critical it is that you know what your policy does and does not cover before property damage occurs. It is an important step to make sure that you have enough coverage in the areas where your home or building may be most susceptible.  The environment in which your property rests must be taken into consideration when going over the types of coverage you  need.

Here are top property damage claims preparation tips to keep in mind:

Select proper coverage! This is  critical so make sure that your policy is thoroughly explained to you and that you understand all limitations and coverage. Make sure to have an amount that is an excess of what you own.  Remember that antiques are usually not covered in basic property insurance so if you own antiques you will want to get what is called a rider to add coverage in this area.  If you cannot get your insurance company to go over and explain your policy to you, a public adjuster here at Priority Adjusters will be more than happy to review this for you for free.

It’s important to keep your policy in line with updates to your inventory i.e., the latest purchases.  If you have an existing policy that you have not evaluated in sometime, it is recommended.  You can always get limit increases and more coverage if necessary.

  • Know what your policy deduction is.  Is it something you can actually pay if needed?
  • Basic home owner policies generally do not cover flood damage and earthquakes. Be sure to ask your carrier about this.
  • When Its Time To Call A Professional

Should you have an incident of property damage and need to file a claim you can find information about how to file a property claim here.  For the quickest results it is important you contact a professional public adjuster first.  A public adjuster is experienced in settling claims.  They will get your claim filed, come to your home to assess damage, take pictures if necessary and act as the second opinion necessary in receiving a proper settlement to your claim.  A public adjuster works with emergency restoration services on a regular basis so they can quickly get the ball rolling on repair and clean up.  Insurance companies generally expect to pay a higher cost for emergency services. Your contractor should bill them directly.

Remember, you insurance will pay the minimum on your claim unless they are properly challenge.  This is where having a insurance claims adjuster on your side is vital to your property damage claim. Your insurance company is under obligation to pay for your damaged property.  At the same time they are a business so they are in it to make money.  An independent property damage claim specialist such as a public adjuster will help immensely in this matter.

Water Damage Side Effects More Than Just Property Damage

Water damage affects many each year and the cause of origin can be any number of things you can imagine.  Did you know that on average at least $12 million of water damage is the cause of headache and loss in California each year? Some of the most common causes are broken or frozen pipes, heavy rain and believe it or not, sprinkler systems! When this happens depending on the humidity and present weather conditions, mold can start growing in as quickly as 24-48 hours.  Mold will spread fast and cover areas thoroughly and extensively.

Seemingly small areas can appear easy to fix but there should be no delay in action of this process as there are many more dangers that should be considered.

Why does mold grow so fast, especially indoors? The reason is that elements such as wet wood and drywall, for instance, encourage growth of mold in humid environments.  Water and heat creates this humid environment making it a breeding ground for mold.

Once mold has grown in an area that has been damaged by water, it can cause various illnesses and unwanted symptoms, especially in susceptible individuals with lowered immune systems. Mold also attracts various insects such as dust mites that also thrive in these areas. Some of the health problems that are caused can be the direct attack mold launches on your immune system.  Dr. John T. Chiu of the Allergy Medical Group, Inc. outlines the dangers and effects that mold can have on his site here.  Dr. Chiu is an allergy expert and his expert testimony has been used in various legal matters concerning mold and the body’s reaction to mold.  Mold is a volatile organic compound that can irritate the respiratory system and entire immune system at various levels.  For many others, symptoms remain unknown.  He says that the prime reason for mold’s ability to inhabit the body as it does is due to the microbial nature of the bacteria strain.

“Genetically susceptible people often develop allergic reactions to these agents. The most frequently detected molds in these structures are Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys, but elevated spore counts of other mold species are often detected as well. Such measurements can be obtained through an environmental assessment firm usually headed by an industrial hygienist or a Ph.D. in microbiology.”

“Diseases such as bronchial asthma, allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, and occasionally hives (urticaria) are usually the consequence of allergic sensitization to the molds detected and/or house dust mite droppings.”

Please be careful when dealing with wet environments and do not deal with any mold you may encounter directly.  If you suspect mold please call a professional immediately. Public adjusters or Insurance Claims Adjuster can help you recover damages from water damaged areas in your home or building and coordinate restoration services so that your area can be cleaned and restored to proper conditions.

Public Adjusters Are Not Attorneys | Why Property Damage Attorneys Call Us

Public Adjuster vs. Property Damage Attorney

Yes, its true.  Public adjusters fight for you, the property owner, when you need an advocate for Big Insurance.  There is great benefit and value that goes into hiring a public adjuster especially in terms of cost efficiency.  However, public adjusters are not attorneys.   So why do property damage attorneys always end up calling us?  I’ll tell you why.

Many attorneys say they can handle these matters.  However the fact is, that these attorneys will usually refer out your claim to a public adjuster.  An attorney is well versed in the law.  The attorney will not travel to a burnt or water damaged office building or home with a flashlight and tools to detail all the damage and assess loss.  No, that is what the public adjusters do.  Attorneys often hire experts  on property damage such as a public adjusting firm.  All public adjusters are licensed tested & bonded.  Public adjusters also have networks and contracts with estimators with years of building/property experience to evaluate the damages. When handling business income losses it is important to have accountants on hand which is another department we have on staff. There are a plethora of experts that public adjusters incorporate into the day to day mediation with insurance companies.

There is a great respect to be had  for property damage attorneys, nor am I discounting their benefit, but from experience we find that many attorneys are simply not experienced enough to handle these types of matters in comparison to public adjusters.  Public adjusters understand how to apply building code to occurrences of fire or water damage.

Today, fire claims are becoming more complicated and demanding.   Insurance companies are fighting harder than ever to keep claims low.  When you have property damage adjuster, you want an experienced public adjuster on your side for this very purpose. We offer a

Malibu Fires & Fire Damage Prevention For Summer Seasons

Fire damage may not be avoidable during hot weather, but there are definite measures to reduce or stop spread quickly as well as things you, your family, and your employees can do to ensure quick and safe evacuation with minimal loss possible. This was outlined at a recent expo designed to help bring awareness and preparedness to the citizens of Malibu as covered by The Malibu Times.

Recently at the Malibu’s Emergency Preparedness Expo representatives from various other emergency management departments discuss wildfire and tsunami preparedness. There was a great and important message shared on how to prepare and respond to natural disasters.

As most Californians know, wildfire season is around the corner. It was interesting to note The Malibu Times reported.  The Malibu Times mentioned that a group of experts gathered at Malibu City Hall to give insights as to their knowledge and experience on the city.  Also in attendance was The Los Angeles County Fire Department, California Emergency Management Agency to raise awareness of the threat of natural disasters.

The awareness of the potential severity and extensive damage that a wildfire could bring was one of the main points that were brought to the forefront of the discussion.  When an outbreak of wildfire has occurred it is of the utmost importance that evacuation warnings are given early considering the number of narrow roads in Malibu was what was featured.  A chief from the LA County Fire Department pointed to that fact being the reason for traffic delays. He also mentioned that in the Corral Canyon Fire, 4,900 acres burned and six firefighters were injured.  The chief also cited a 2003 incident in San Diego where a large number of civilians died due to being stuck on roads while trying to evacuate who got caught in smoke, fire and heat.  The chief went on to mention a little known fact that impacts vehicles trying to evacuate at later stages of a wildfire.  Smoke causes the driver to lose their visibility, while the fire and the heat impact how the vehicle will work.  Many do not realize that the combustion in the engine needs oxygen to work, so if the “fire is consuming the oxygen –the vehicle will stall” as stated by Chief Anthony Williams of the LACFD.
The LACFD created a “Ready, Set, Go” personal wildfire action plan.  A presentation was given with information about how families can properly create a disaster plan, evacuation checklist, and be sure to evacuate in time.  LACFD advocated the need for safeguarding a home so that the chances of rapid fire affecting the home are low, that areas of potential hazard in the home are dealt with and do not block quick evacuation. Areas such as roofs, eaves, vents, walls, windows and door were outlined.

The bottom line for families attempting to safeguard their home without survival equipment or training as Chief Williams stated is “a recipe for disaster”. Placing value where value truly lies was emphasized.  Homes and material things can be replaced.  People can’t be so don’t risk your loved ones to anything else.

References to prepare your home or office for fire damage:

1)      To obtain the Ready, Set, Go program and wildfire preparedness go online to the L.A. County Fire Department Website:  www.fire.lacounty.gov

 

2)      The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is a great resource for information on fire protection: www.fire.ca.gov.

 

3)      The California Emergency Management Agency provides information on emergency preparedness as well: www.calema.ca.gov

 

4)      If you suffer from fire damage and need help recovering from loss and restoring damage areas you can also contact Priority Adjusters, public adjusters in Ca

Property Damage Claims & Mortgaged Properties

When property damage has been sustained whether by natural disaster, accidental, or otherwise, a mortgagor (borrower) will often elect to have a professional handle his/her claim by means of a public insurance adjuster.  What typically happens is the public adjuster will then contact the mortgagee ( the lender of said secured loan) to notify them that they have been hired by the mortgagor to settle the insurance claim for the sake of the mortgagor.

Documented paperwork & photos will go far in further proving your claim.  Be sure to read your policy to make sure you know what you are and aren’t covered by in your policy.  Certain aspects of damage may require a rider (additional clause or provision of extended coverage)  Things like a fire that spreads into the common areas are things  you will need to know that you are covered for before you call your insurance company.

Some property owners find out after the fact that the process for recovering your damages and filing a claim can be quite tedious and time consuming.  For some property owners, they have found hiring a “Property Claims Adjuster” to be quite valuable.  Also known as a public adjuster, they are a rather uncommonly known type of loss specialist committed to helping policyholders get fully indemnified by their insurance policies. Many companies centralize claims adjustment in a insurance claims center, where the cost of repair is estimated and a check is issued immediately.

A public adjuster can:

  1. Settling your claim for the greatest amount
  2. Serve as that necessary second opinion required by insurance claims
  3. Negotiate on your behalf with your insurance company
  4. Advise you of your options and keep you informed every step of the way
  5. Evaluating your policy to help present the strongest probable claim to your insurance company
  6. Measuring and document losses to prove your losses (i.e., belongings,  house,  extra living /operating cost)
    Giving you time to focus on recovering personally

The difference between a Public Adjuster also known as an independent Claims Adjuster and an Adjuster that works for the insurance company is quite distinct.  An  Adjuster hired by an  insurance company works for, and is paid by, that insurance company.  This type of Adjuster will have an apparent bias in favor of the insurance company that hired him/her .  An independent Claims Adjuster works strictly for the policy owner and has only their best interests in mind.

As the reputation of insurance carriers not paying its policyholders fairly on property damage claims grows, consumers are growing wiser and now turning directly t to a Property Damage Adjuster before initiating the claims filing process to raise their chances of not only a proper settlement amount but also to improve likelihood of claim approval when  damage has occurred.

If you have sustained property damage to your office building or any other type of property, give us a call. Find out how we can help: 800-602-9915

What To Look For In A Good Public Adjuster & What Is A Public Adjuster

While there are claims of what public adjusters can do for you, today we will also mention a bit about what they can’t do.   Public Adjusters can speed up claims processing and coordinate crucial services related to property restoration.  However, they cannot wave a wand and instantly solve all your problems immediately.  Certain aspects related to your claim may take more time than maybe Sara Jo’s claim, depending on the type of claim.  A public adjuster will save you valuable time and the chances of a claim filed by an adjuster as opposed to an individual tend to be much higher.  At the same time, there is no honest guarantee that the claim will be approved.  There are several elements of criteria that are used as assessment in your claim.  Because these factors vary from one spectrum to the other, processing time will also.  Victims of property damage  can get easily bombarded with the stress of trying to recover and reclaim balance after building damage,  fire damage, water damage, roof damage, or any other types of damage that befalls property owners such as vandalism.  That is where a public adjuster would help.  A good public adjuster can be a blessing in disguise or just another headache to the list.  The first thing you will want to do is make sure that he or she is licensed.  Licenses differ from state to state. You will want to make sure that the public adjuster is licensed for your state.  Adjusters can practice across multiple states but they will need a license for each state to do so.  Make sure your personal public adjuster is licensed and up to speed on the adjusting laws in your state.
It is important for public adjusters to not only be licensed but they should also have a level of computer competency.  He or she does not have to be a tech wiz but they should know their way around basic programs such as MS Word and how to do a simple search online.  In the world of technology there is information and transactions online that happen between insurance carriers.  Having  basic computer knowledge will go far in this regard.

Go with your instincts.  If your insurance adjuster seems that he/she can’t explain the process to you, is too pushy to get you to sign with him, or you feel unsure, you are probably are right.  Keep looking.  Public adjusters are business owner and property owner advocates.  You want someone sensitive to your issues and needs.  You also want someone who will efficiently handle your claims and work fast to get you what you need.

Important questions to ask:

  • What is the first step once we sign with you?
  • What type of delays should I expect?
  • How quickly will my claim be filed?
  • What is the average time frame to expect a settlement (nothing is in stone as each case is different, but if you know your adjuster has an idea, this can be helpful)
  • Who will be my point of contact for updates, etc. Is it you?
  • How soon (or often) will someone follow up with me?
  • Will I be kept abreast of changes in my case? If so, how? US Postal Mail, Email, phone?

A public adjuster should have keen information related to insurance claims help request such as what will be the estimate cost required to recover from physical damage, cost to build up a new roof, or any to the property for which a claim is being made. A public  adjuster’s job is to become the bridge between the insurance holder and the insurance firm. A public adjuster acts  on your behalf to carry out work from start to  finish until you, the owner, gets the appropriate claim amount. Many states keep regular test to renew the license so that the adjuster is equipped to handle the entire situation coming in the insurance industry.

Public adjusters can really make their value felt by the time the owner is saved as well as the insight that only adjusters have in dealing with insurance companies.   If you have sustained damage to your office building, are a victim of vandalism, or your home property has been devastated, things like relocation, and property restoration are things that can be overwhelming to set up.  Not to mention, you will still have to worry about your insurance carrier of whom I assure will try to undervalue your damage to their benefit.

If you have sustained damage to your building or residential property, call 800-602-9915. You can also contact us on the form to the right of this page.

We at Priority Adjusters will make your claim our “top” Priority.

How To Take Inventory For Your Business

Why is taking inventory for your business important? It’s because you never know when a disaster may strike.  In the event your business is damaged be it water damage, roof damage, vandalism or other you must have a proper inventory ready of the items in your care.  This is especially important for recovery purposes when it comes time to file your claim, for insurance, and for tax purposes.

It’s imperative that you make sure you keep a current business inventory.  This will help you immensely.    You will want  to purchase enough to replace all business inventory pertaining to what you do.   This will also help speed up settlement of our claim.

When it comes to how to start the process of taking inventory for your business, you have a few options in this regard.  You can simply have someone make a list in a notebook saving receipts to support purchases and photos in a file.  Or  if you wish to invest in easy to use software that can automate of the details in the process there are many software programs you can purchase to create detailed, organized, accurate and up to date records of each item.   With the click of your mouse, you can easily update  lists that you purchase, replace or eliminate.  The benefit of an online or computer record is that it can be housed virtually and backed up in many cases. You can scan some receipts, take digital photos to be housed on a server, etc.

Where To Start

Don’t be put  off by the seemingly arduous task of taking inventory, especially if it is something that has not been done for a long time or in some cases years.   Take it one step at a time.  You will want to first decide on a the method in which to record your inventory (software, online, manually) Go office by office or  room by room.   Take it category by category such as creating categories for “furniture” and “electronics”.  Start with the newest pieces of furniture or  items to the oldest or you may start from the most expensive purchases to the less expensive ones.  Whichever suits you best.

Depending on the insurance coverage you have, some items may need to be insured separately such as Key players in your company and any cash you may be keeping in the office for petty purchases.

Photographs

Be sure to have photographs that accompany your inventory list. This can be done easily with a digital camera.  If you have a film camera you can scan printed photographs or have their film developer save the images to a disk.  Print photographs can still be stored  with a copy of your inventory.

The List

Some items below can be listed by the room in which they are likely to be found.  If you have a large number of  purchases of one type of item such as books, CDs, miscellaneous items you can make a general estimate of how many you have and what  their estimated value may be.

If you have sustained damage to your business or insured office building, we may be able to help.  Call us at 800-602-9915

Fire Damage Insurance Help

Most property owners are not familiar with the complexities of insurance policies and the legal and technical aspects of a fire damage insurance claim.

After Fire Damage… Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Will my insurance pay for temporary housing or business relocation?
  2. Should I sign a contract with a repair contractor right away?
  3. How can I get my personal property damage – beyond the structure damage – claim paid fairly?
  4. What notices must I give?
  5. What constitutes  “Proof of Loss” and what are my contractual “Duties after a Loss”?
  6. What is Actual Cash Value (“ACV”) versus Replacement Cost Value (“RCV”)?
  7. Do I have Extended Coverage, Business Loss Coverage and Consequential Loss Coverage?
  8. Do I have mold coverage and how do I test and remediate?
  9. Will my policy cover restorations that meet new building codes?
  10. What does it mean to mitigate my damages?
  11. What are my duties under the policy?
  12. Will I be covered should theft or vandalism occur following the fire?
  13. Will my vehicles be covered if damaged or destroyed by the fire?

14.  How do I assess if my insurance company is cheating me, underpaying or wrongfully denying parts of  my claim?

These are important questions that usually come up  after a covered Fire Loss. The important answer to all of these questions is “You don’t have to know – we do”!

Priority Adjusters, California’s premier Public Adjuster, is ready to help.

When you experience any physical damage to your home, or other insurance related damages, make us your first line of defense.

Building Damage

Building damage can range from minor accidents to rather extensive damage.  It can be quite a headache to deal with and  prevent further damage, maintain business processes, and claim recovery for your loss if you are not familiar with all these elements or even how to document your damage for insurance once it has occurred.  There can be many forms to assess building damage required.  Also required by your insurance and most law enforcement agencies are pictures of building damage due to whatever may be the cause.  There are building damage assessment tools that can help you better document damages to the building.   However, in emergency situations, emergency management and control is crucial.  Where and how are some of the common ways building damage can happen? It can come during construction work, renovations, general maintenance, natural disasters or through accidents.   Not uncommon are instances where a gas main explosion outside your building can cause major damage to your office. In minor incidents of damage the building may need to be inspected by engineers/maintenance employees to  make sure that it is safe to return to or continue working in or around the damage that has been sustained.

In urgent situations where damage is extensive and emergency care is required you first want to make sure of potential hazards that could extend the depth of damages such as the occurrence of major earthquakes, massive collisions, etc.  In such events you will want to make sure that the electricity, gas, and water is turned off.   Check for gas and/or fuel leaks. You will want to also and most importantly check for any injuries that have been sustained by you or your office staff, and tend to them.  Apply first aid measures immediately as needed, and be sure not to move seriously injured persons unless there is an immediate danger.  Have someone check for broken pipes, water sewage, etc.   You will want to check for cracks, building damage both to exterior and interior structures.  In the event of strong earthquakes you will want to prepare for aftershocks and be sure to stay calm.

Once you have made sure of the obvious you will want to recover from your loss.  Check your insurance policy and if you need help we are here for you.  We will help coordinate restoration services, adjuster visits, and more.  Amidst all the problems you may be going through during an occurrence of building damage, it can be quite disheartening to know that dealing with your insurance company could turn into additional headache.  We alleviate that by acting on your behalf .  We file claims and offer the second opinion you need and get your claim approved with the highest payout possible.   Read here to see whats involved in filing a claim and why you need a public adjuster.

You may contact us on this page via our Contact form or directly at 800-602-9915

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