Recovering from a Flood: Post-Loss Checklist

Flood damage is one of Florida’s top reported homeowner’s insurance claims, and is one that hit homes hard just last year in September 2015, when major flooding affected nearly all Delray Beach residents. When a tragedy like this occurs, it leaves many homeowners wondering what they should do in order to get their homes in order and returned back to normalcy.

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Advocate Claims Public Adjusters in Delray Beach, Florida created a Recovering from a Flood: Post-Loss Checklist for residents to reference in case another flood were to occur in the area:

1. Take care of yourself and your family first. Make sure that you have a place to stay, plenty of clothes, and food to eat until your home has been assessed by a Delray Beach public adjuster and until the insurance claim process is complete.

2. If your home is not completely damaged, make sure that you have turned off all electricity and gas before entering your home. The same goes for commercial property flooding.

3. Patch any holes and check for broken or leaking pipes.

4. Make sure that you contact a Delray Beach public adjuster before you contact your homeowner’s or commercial property insurance company; they will be able to aid you in the flood recovery process, as well as help you properly file an insurance claim.

5. Begin listing and detailing the damages with your public adjuster.

6. You and your public adjuster can start planning your recovery, including everything that you will need to fix the damage, how you will pay for the repairs until the insurance settlement comes through, etc.

7. Completely dry out your home or commercial property. Since water damages materials, anything that has stayed wet too long may be warped and need complete replacement as part of your flood recovery plan. In order to help combat mold, mildew, and fungus growth, open all windows and doors, use fans, run dehumidifiers, use desiccants, and find a private contractor that does not work with your insurance company in order to get your property back to functioning condition.

8. Make sure that you are not just repairing, but floodproofing. Implement flood walls, add elevation where possible, dry floodproofing, and wet floodproofing tactics.

9. After repairs are complete, restore your utilities and clean up any leftover debris.

10. The 2015 Delray Beach flood was widespread and caused a lot of damage; in this case, you may be able to apply for additional financial assistance, like Disaster Housing Assistance, Disaster Loans, Individual and Family Grants, Income Tax Deductions, Floodproofing Assistance, and Counseling. Listen to your local news television and radio stations for businesses who may be contributing to the recovery efforts.

Advocate Claims Public Adjusters have been handling homeowners and commercial property insurance claims in South Florida for over a decade. If you have any questions about filing a flood insurance claim or assessing your current homeowner’s insurance policy, call Steven Venook at Advocate Claims’ main office in Coconut Creek at 954-369-0573.

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Advocate Claims is an A+ BBB Rated Public Adjuster in South Florida

A public adjuster is a professional claims handler who advocates for the policyholder rather than the insurance company, which is why public adjusters are so popular to turn to in the unfortunate circumstance that a residence or commercial property gets damaged or pilfered.

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The most common homeowner’s insurance claims filed in the state of Florida are water damage, burglary or theft, wind damage, physical damage, lightning, and floods. So, how do you decide whether you should hire a public adjuster or not? The key is finding a competent, licensed public adjuster in Florida. Especially in the southern region of Florida where public adjusters may be plentiful close to the coast, finding the best public adjuster in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Weston, Coconut Creek, and surrounding cities is the key to getting the most out of your homeowner’s insurance claim, no matter what kind of damage you are filing for.

One way that you can check to make sure that your South Florida public adjuster will handle your claim and assess damages in a way that puts you (the policyholder) first, is to make sure that they are BBB (Better Business Bureau) accredited.

If a business has been accredited by the BBB, it means that the BBB has determined that the business meets their requirements and standards, which includes “a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve consumer complaints.”

Advocate Claims Public Adjusters is located in Coconut Creek, Florida and is a BBB accredited public adjuster in South Florida. Advocate Claims services the majority of South Florida, including: Miramar, Weston, Parkland, Lighthouse Point, Coral Springs, Plantation, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Palm Beach, and Palm Beach Gardens.

In the event that your home suffers from any of the aforementioned common property insurance claims filed in Florida, Advocate Claims Public Adjusters are only a call away. Our public adjusters offer a No Recovery – No Fee service and No Obligation Consultation. Advocate Claims works to empower the policyholder, so even if you simply have questions regarding your policy, give us a call at 954-369-0573 and we can help!

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40% Consumer Complaints Are Due to Poor Claim Handling

POLICYHOLDERS – DON’T BECOME ANOTHER STATISTIC

Half of all consumer complaints are due to poor claim handling by insurers

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Policyholders are complaining about insurance companies.  Why? Claim handling practices such as

  • Denial of claim
  • Delays
  • Unsatisfactory (settlements)
  • Complaints that are specific to state rules and regulations

A whopping 47% of consumer complaints in 2015 according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners revolved around claim handling issues.

Top 10 Reasons for Insurance Consumer Complaints

                                                2015
 

Reason for Complaint

 

Count

% of All

Reasons

Claim Handling – Denial of Claim 18,241 19.14%
Claim Handling – Delays 13,890 14.58%
Claim Handling – Unsatisfactory Settlement/Offer 10,046 10.54%
Underwriting – Surcharge 7,648 8.03%
Underwriting – Cancellation 4,124 4.33%
PolicyHolder Service – Coverage Question 3,573 3.75%
Claim Handling – State Specific 3,528 3.70%
PolicyHolder Service – Premium Refund 3,515 3.69%
Underwriting – Premium & Rating 3,205 3.36%
PolicyHolder Service – Premium Notice/Billing 3,108 3.26%

 

This information outlines some of the reasons why consumers were not happy with the performance of their insurance company during the claim process but it also spells out that the claim handling process can be difficult and unsatisfactory for policyholders to navigate on their own.  Policyholders who find themselves involved in a property insurance claim can expect to be disappointed with their insurers nearly 50% of the time.

It is advisable for policyholders to seek their own licensed insurance professional to make sure that they do not become another statistic.  When you are trying to recover from an insured loss the complicated insurance process and adversarial nature of claim experience can be traumatizing.

Advocate Claims Public Adjusters has firsthand knowledge of all the insurance company dirty tricks used to avoid the proper handling and settlement of an insurance claim.

Insurance companies have their own adjusters and experts to protect their pocket, shouldn’t you have your own adjuster too!

Before you consider reporting a property damage insurance claim insurance claim to your insurance company call us first!

We will do everything in our power to increase your odds.

Empowering the policy holder one claim at a time.

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What is a Public Adjuster?

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Has your home or building suffered property damages like a natural disaster, robbery, vandalism, or pipe burst? Good thing you already know to call your homeowner’s insurance company – but what else should you do? Is there anyone else you should contact?

In the event that you need to file a residential or commercial property insurance claim, like most homeowners, you may not have been through the process before. Knowing who to contact and how to navigate through the insurance claim process is the key to getting your claim settled in an efficient manner that gives you the most back.  This is where public adjusters come in handy. Since homeowners do not file claims every day like insurance companies and public adjusters do, hiring professional help is your best bet in order to ensure that your claim is being properly handled.

No clue what a public adjuster is?

The textbook definition of a public adjuster is a professional claims handler / claims adjuster who advocates for the policyholder in appraising and negotiating a claimant’s insurance claim.

Since filing an insurance claim after residential or commercial property damage can be stressful due to the many steps and details, many homeowners and business owners seek out professional help from public adjusters in their area in hopes of removing the burden of dealing with the insurance company.

Advocate Claims Public Adjusters are South Florida adjusters that service Palm Beach Gardens, Weston, Miramar, Parkland, Boca Raton, Coral Springs, and other surrounding cities. Our licensed Florida public adjusters can interpret your homeowners insurance policy, assess the damage of your home or business property, create an estimate for the cost of repairs that keeps your best interests in mind, and negotiate with the insurance company until the claim is settled.

Our public adjusters in Palm Beach and outer-lying cities work for the homeowner, not the insurance company, and have a No Recovery – No Fee policy that includes a No Obligation Consultation. Advocate Claims empowers the policyholder, so if you need to file a homeowner’s insurance claim or commercial property insurance claim in South Florida, call our main office at 954-369-0573 today.

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Car and Home Hurricane Protection

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We’ve all been there, we have left the garage door open and then it rains, and items get damaged; or we forget to put our hurricane shutters up before a storm warning is sent out. The fact is, a lot of homeowners wait until it is too late to protect their home and their vehicles.

Advocate Claims Public Adjusters service many major South Florida cities like Miramar, Weston, Parkland, and Palm Beach Gardens, and have handled countless homeowner’s insurance claims that were the result of ill-preparation during storm seasons. Part of our services include giving homeowners car and home hurricane protection information they need in order to avoid having to file an insurance company claim in the first place.

Since Florida residents focus on hurricane preparedness, here are some of our expert Weston public adjusters’ tips for protecting your car and home before a hurricane occurs:

  • During a Florida hurricane season, you should always be mindful of where you park your car and its surroundings. Is there a large tree that could fall on it? If you can, it may be ideal to clean out your garage and make sure that cars can fit inside, or park them where they cannot be harmed from falling debris.
  • When figuring out your parking situation during hurricane season, make sure that you don’t park your car in a low-lying area that is prone to flooding.
  • Keep your vehicle full of gas and evacuation ready, and keep your home fully stocked with essentials in case the electricity goes out. A good general rule of thumb for car and home hurricane protection is to be prepared for at least one month.
  • If hail is in the forecast, make sure that you move your vehicle under a covered structure.
  • Flash floods may occur after a hurricane, typically up to 12 hours after a heavy rain storm, so make sure that you move as many belongings as you can to higher floors or off the ground floor to prevent as much damage as possible. Although structural damage may not be prevented in all cases, you can prevent items in your home from getting ruined by outdoor flooding that seeps inside.

In the event that your home suffers from hurricane damage, hail, or flooding due to hurricane damage, our Weston public adjusters are ready to take your call and help streamline the homeowner’s insurance claim process for you. Contact our professional South Florida adjusters by calling our main office located in Coconut Creek at 954-369-0573. Advocate Claims stands by a No Recovery – No Fee commitment to service and works by empowering the policy holder, not the insurance company.

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3 Things Your Standard Homeowner’s Insurance Policy Does Not Cover

Depending on your geographic location, knowing what your homeowner’s insurance policy does and does not cover is crucial to being able to return your home back to normalcy in the event of an emergency. When a home suffers from wind, fire, hurricane damage, tornado damage, pipe bursts, and flooding, and homeowner’s face the unfortunate circumstance of having to file an insurance claim, local public adjusters tend to find that a lot of homeowners are not completely aware of what their insurance policies do and do not cover.

A woman is receiving very bad news on the telephone.

The South Florida public adjusters at Advocate Claims work on behalf of the homeowner, not the insurance company. As a result, we like our customers to have the necessary knowledge for properly assessing their home’s damage, their situation, and for navigating their residential insurance coverage. The following are 3 forms of damages that your standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover.

1. Mold. Despite the threat to health that mold poses, a standard homeowner’s insurance policy either limits coverage for mold damage or completely excludes it. If you live in a moist area that is prone to mold, some insurers offer an endorsement to expand coverage for mold claims.

2. Sewer backup. The unfortunate reality surrounding sewer backups is that the majority of America’s sewer systems are over 100 years old and are past-due for repairs. Since homes are often connected to these sewage lines, sewage backup can cause damage to a home’s floors, walls, furniture, and electrical systems; even so, a standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover sewer backups, but you may be able to request additional coverage.

3. Sinkholes. If you live in Florida, South Florida public adjusters want every homeowner to be aware of the possibility for sinkholes and to be aware that Florida is the only state in which sinkholes are covered by a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. In every other state where sinkholes are prominent, earth movement is excluded.

 

For more information on what your homeowner’s insurance policy may or may not cover, contact Steven Venook at Advocate Claims Public Adjusters, at 954-369-0573.

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Evaluating Loss with a Business Ordinance or Law Exclusion

After a severe commercial property loss, one of the worst things that a business owner find out is that they have to rebuild their damaged structure to conform to new building codes. As a result, business owners might find themselves faced with costs that are out of their budget. Licensed public adjusters in South Florida are aware that even if the insurance company does give a substantial settlement, if it factors in certain construction parameters outlined in the Ordinance or Law Exclusion, reconstruction that complies with current building codes can add a significant amount to the cost of repairs.

Coconut Creek public adjusters don’t want to see your business suffer from not having the funds to repair your establishment, so the licensed public adjusters at Advocate Claims recommend that you check the “Ordinance or Law” exclusion in your property insurance policy, as this may prevent a full recovery.

The Ordinance or Law Exclusion states that the insurer does not have to pay for loss or damage caused by regulating construction, in regards to repairs that are due to code requirements and/or removing undamaged materials during reconstruction.

In order to evaluate loss with a business ordinance or law coverage, Advocate Claims Public Adjusters recommend that you go over the three distinct and separate areas of uninsured loss outlined in the Ordinance or Law Exclusion. This way, you are aware of exactly how it may apply to your commercial property loss and repairs.

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1. Your public adjuster can help you evaluate the loss of the value of the undamaged portion of a building when the building has to be torn down in order to meet certain code requirements. When the commercial property damage percent exceeds what it specified in the code, or when reconstruction is not permitted under the code, you may see a lapse in coverage.

2. Not covered is the cost of demolition and the removal of debris from undamaged portions of your commercial property. Note that this only applies to the cost for demolition and removal of undamaged portions, not damaged portions.

3. Also not covered is the costs of reconstruction increase due to code requirements, such as sprinklers, fire protection, or anything that is a code requirement that was left out of your old building, these additional fees are not covered.

Since certain homeowner’s insurance policies may also have the same restrictions, the public adjusters at Advocate Claims can provide guidance and insight into your homeowner’s insurance and/or commercial property insurance fine print and details. This way, you can know exactly what you can and cannot receive insurance settlement funds for.

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The Difference between Replacement Cost and Actual Cash Value

Florida public adjusters want every homeowner to be aware of the residential insurance claim process, as there are many aspects and terms that are not easily defined by homeowners. One of those aspects is Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost Value. In order to make these two concepts simple to understand, the expert public adjusters at Advocate Claims have outlined everything that you need to know about the two terms and how to be knowledgeable about what exactly your homeowner’s or property insurance covers.

Actual Cash Value – When filing an insurance claim, depending on if you purchased actual cash value or replacement cost coverage will determine how your insurance claim will be paid.  Actual cash value is traditionally determined based on taking the replacement cost less depreciation. It is important to keep in mind that actual cash value is not as easily defined as replacement cost. Some courts have interpreted actual cash value to mean “fair market value”, which is the amount that a buyer would pay if a seller was simply selling a used item.

How is depreciation computed? Depreciation is typically calculated using the following formula:

Asset’s Historical Cost – Asset’s Estimated Salvage Value / Asset’s Useful Life

Replacement Cost – Replacement cost is more easily defined an understood as the cost to replace the property with new property of comparable material and quality.Real-estate-mortgage-000067823399_Medium

 

The difference between replacement cost and actual cost value is the aspect of depreciation factored in.

Licensed Miramar public adjusters want you to always be knowledgeable about exactly which kind of coverage you have, whether it be actual cash value or replacement cost. If you need guidance or assistance reviewing your homeowner’s or commercial property insurance coverage, contact Steven Venook at Advocate Claims at 954-369-0573. Steven Venook has been serving homeowners and commercial business owners for over a decade, making sure that they get the best possible return when filing a property damage insurance claim. Advocate Claims is a member of the Better Business Bureau and can give you guidance and insight when reviewing your insurance policy.

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Assessing Your Property Insurance Policy for the New Year

It’s a new year and for South Florida residents, it has already brought a slew of tornadoes and torrential downpour. Sure, losing weight and saving money are great New Year’s resolutions, but have you ever thought to reassess your residential or commercial property insurance for the New Year?

Your insurance needs change each year, and often so does the insurance policy language. The last thing that you, your family, or your business should have to worry about is if you have enough coverage in order to handle emergency expenses, should they arise.

The licensed public adjusters at Advocate Claims in Coconut Creek, Florida recommend that all homeowners and business owners reevaluate their property insurance policies each year in order to make sure that they are accurately covered and not overpaying.

Here are some tips from professional public adjusters on how you can update your residential or commercial property insurance policy:

– Spring clean and then take inventory of all of your most valuable possessions. This inventory will come in handy in the unfortunate event that you have to submit a claim for items damaged, lost or stolen.

– Since the holidays have just passed and you may have received that expensive flat screen TV, tablet, or new washer and dryer from your wish list, you will want to make sure that these pricey items are covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy.

– Submit your updated inventory list to your insurance agent and keep a copy for your records in a fireproof security box with all other important documents.model-house-on-dollars-000019545571_Medium

Many licensed public adjusters in South Florida also suggest that you complete essential updates to your home and/or office building such as new locks, doors, and windows in order to help prevent against theft and damage from natural disasters, inclement weather, or accidents.

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How Is Recoverable Depreciation Computed?

A lot of homeowners and business owners that Advocate Claims Public Adjusters come across wonder how to recover depreciation from an insurance claim. The very first thing that licensed public adjusters will tell you to do is check whether or not you even have recoverable depreciation. The majority of the time, a business or homeowner will have recoverable depreciation; however, sometimes it is non-recoverable because the policy owner has an Actual Cash Value Policy. Other times depreciation may not be recoverable are if repairs and replacement were not completed before a designated deadline.

Through hiring a licensed public adjuster in South Florida, you can verify if your depreciation is recoverable during your insurance adjustment or on the insurance declaration page or policy. If your depreciation is recoverable, the Replacement Cost Value of the repairs must be spent, and copies of invoices must be sent to the insurance company in order to indicate that the repairs and/or replacement has been completed. By doing this, it allows them to then release the recoverable depreciation to you.iStock_000002223592_Medium

In order to determine how the figures are calculated, Advocate Claims has an example for how recoverable depreciation is computed:

A home is insured for $100,000 and has completely damaged its roof due to a tornado. The cost to replace the roof (Replacement Cost Value) is $10,000. Let’s say the roof is 20 years old and the policy owner’s deductible is $1,000.

The insurance adjuster is going to depreciate the roof based on age, so let’s say 20%, making the Actual Cash Value of the roof $10,000 – $2,000 depreciation = $8,000

The recoverable depreciation would be the Replacement Cost Value – Actual Cash Value = $7,000 after the deductible is applied.

The insurance company will make a payment to the policy owner for $7,000 actual cash value towards replacing the roof.

After the roof has been replaced for the full Replacement Cost Value of $10,000 and the insurance company receives the invoice, they will release the recoverable depreciation of $2,000 to be reimbursed to you.

If you are unsure of the process of filing a residential or commercial property insurance claim and the calculations made during the settlement and repair/replacement cost process, contact Steven Venook at Advocate Claims, at 954-369-0573.

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