Tag Archives: insurance

A week of hurricane preparation: Crucial steps to take

Hurricanes are a risk that all southern and eastern coastal communities are in danger of. The storms can form and can strengthen rapidly leaving little time for proper preparation. This list details things you can do within a week to help get your family and your home ready for the impact.

Waves_Storm

INSURANCE:

  • Pull out your insurance documents. Make note of your coverage limits and your deductibles. Consider how much you’d need to cover the cost to replace your home’s structure, your personal belongings and your automobile. Call your agent(s) to confirm that you understand everything correctly.
  • Make a video inventory of your entire house including inside drawers, closets, etc. For higher priced and valuable items make sure to get the make/model, serial number and any other information that would be required to prove the value. Upload the video(s) to the cloud.

Extra Tip: Anyone with a child renting their own place should make sure that they have an active renter’s insurance policy and that they follow these same steps.
EVACUATION:

  • Much like an emergency kit but not in place of, pack everyone in your household a bag or suitcase with everything they would need for 2-3 days such as outfits, chargers, weather gear, etc. Critical medicine, food and water should be in every bag in case one gets lost. Don’t forget to pack one for your animals!
  • Make sure everyone has a phone list of emergency contacts (at least each other, a local contact and a contact that is out of the area). These should be programmed into phones and a printed copy should be in every bag with instructions on where to go if you get split up. You should have a safe place planned locally and another safe place to meet should you have to evacuate.

Extra Tip: When cell service is bad a text message may go through when a phone call won’t. Plan basic, short text messages to be shared among your emergency contacts such as “Safe. At Mimi’s”.
PROPERTY:

  • Take any movable items outside your home and move them inside. For items that are too heavy or large to move in, use cables or chains to secure them down so they can’t be blown around.
  • Consider purchasing a heavy-duty gasoline container to be filled and stored it in a cool, well-ventilated area. You don’t want to wait for an evacuation order to start running vehicles and gas cans to the station. Not only could the station run out of fuel before you get there, waiting would take precious time from other preparations and delay your departure.
  • Prepare to board up. Measure all window and glass door openings (include the framing). Purchase plywood pieces and pre-cut them to fit your measurements. Some lumber stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s may even have a panel saw and can cut them for you. Grab a box of screws and a drill if you don’t have one.

Extra Tip: Consider purchasing a generator. If you do purchase one, first test all your carbon monoxide detectors, then pick a safe place that you’ll be able to run it. The running place should be outside in a well ventilated are (no garages or basements!), that is dry and where you can quickly connect to it. Watch this video by Lowe’s for some other important generator tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaLamTvTQc0
Questions? Concerns? Recommendations? Give us a call or send us an e-mail. We’re happy to help!

Cleaning up after Cape Cod’s tornadoes

When you think of Cape Cod, Massachusetts what sort of weather dangers come to mind? Hurricanes and Nor’easters are common answers, but “tornado” isn’t common at all. Seeing the aftermath of this week’s high grade EF1s that impacted Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich, Chatham and surrounding areas, that may change. Although Cape Cod wasn’t specifically prepared for the sudden impact of the rare weather event, the response of the towns and first responders was fantastic and thankfully no serious injuries have been reported.South Dennis, MA Tornado Weather 7/23/19

Once the storm had passed the sun came out for a moment allowing us a quick peek of blue sky. Although that tempted people to want to walk about and survey the aftereffects, local authorities urged everyone to stay inside. The hours after a natural disaster are the most crucial for restoration efforts. Immediate dangers need to be assessed, unsafe/impassible roads need to be blocked off and detour points need to be established, medial emergency responders need to be able to safely navigate the labyrinth of streets, utility emergency responders need the limited routes as clear as possible as they work to assess services, and as the tree blockades are found they need to be accessed quickly by fellers (because no one in need of an ambulance wants them stuck in a labyrinth of downed trees!). In addition to all that, downed wires are deadly and until they’ve been identified and secured it’s simply not safe.

Cape Cod Tornado Damage Willow Tree Uproots in Brewster, MAWith any natural disaster first you assess and secure, then clean-up and restore. Any serious wind event brings a surge of calls to professional restoration companies from property owners who’ve had trees fall on their home or business. The first thing to do is remove the tree from the structure. Once that is safely done and the tree is on the ground it’s important to immediately board-up any openings it created. After the property has been secured then it’s time to assess the interior damage.

When it comes to insurance coverage this is where things can vary significantly from owner to owner. The deductible on a policy is the portion you are personally responsible for paying out of pocket on a claim. Some policies have a special wind deductible that is different than the standard policy deductible (and often quite larger). If you have a wind deductible on your policy and the wind of the storm toppled a tree on your home then that’s the deductible you’ll be looking at paying with your claim. Other policies may narrow the criteria of the special deductible to hurricanes and named storms, not all wind events. An interesting exclusion we’ve run into on some calls is that although some insurance companies may include the cost to remove the tree from the structure in the claim, removing the tree from the property may not be included and then it’s up to the homeowner to get it chopped up and moved away (or stacked to season for cozy winter fires). These variables and this week’s storm are reasons why our monthly maintenance checklist schedule has you review the different deductibles of your policies with your agent at least once a year.

Cape Cod Tornado Wind downs Brewster Tree at Farm The support and acts of kindness seen and heard around the community have our hearts overflowing. Let’s keep that strength showing. If you see a first responder, thank them. If you’re still without power, be patient. Crews are still working around the clock to get you back up and running. A smile and snack will help them do that more than any complaint ever will. If you’ve offered a helping hand, even something as simple as checking in on your elderly or ill neighbors, thank you!

Have any questions about emergency board-up services or natural disaster response? Send us a message or give us a call! Sharing and supporting the #CapeStrong spirit? Show us on Facebook or Twitter! @whalenrestoration @whalenservices

 

Protecting your home from flooding

From August of 2017 to spring of 2018 we saw more groundwater damage on the Cape than ever before. Most of the homes and businesses were unprepared for the events that happened making property losses devastating to owners. Now that it has happened it is very real to the local owners that even if their basements never flooded before it doesn’t mean they won’t, and severe damage can happen within a matter of minutes. We hope the information below helps more people prepare for that possibility, minimize damage and protect their belongings.

Flood facts to keep in mind:

  • Groundwater can cover a variety of actual sources like rain, storm/ocean surge or high water tables.
  • Damage caused by groundwater is often not covered by a typical homeowners insurance policy.
  • Flood policies often exclude personal items stored in the basement. If you have a flood policy make sure to double check the exclusions and have them clarified by your agent.
  • If your basement floods because the water tables are very high you may not be able to do much about the water until the levels have subsided. If you pump the water out into your yard it will probably seep right back in unless the pumping is continuous.
  • You do have options! Just because you take on groundwater under severe conditions doesn’t mean you have to sell and move on. You may have to invest in waterproofing solutions but it can be maintained.

Recommendations for properties in flood-prone areas

  • Raise basement appliances and contents up off the ground. Put them up on blocks, shelves or pallets. You could even install a false floor over the slab to allow for water to drain below to a sump pump.
  • Install a sump pump! Some basements may need more than one. Regardless of how many you install make sure you set up a battery back-up or generator. Last year some owners had pumps but they needed electricity to run and the storms knocked out the power for days so the areas flooded. Odds are that when the flooding is bad so isn’t the weather and power outages will be likely.
  • Properly grade your landscaping. You’re bound to see problems if you have a yard that directs water towards your basement. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that the soil around the foundation slopes 4-6 inches for a distance of 3′ from the foundation walls.
  • Check your downspouts. Just like with the landscaping you want to make sure your down spouts are directing the water away from the house. Water should be directed at least 3′ from the foundation.
  • Install an interior drainage system to give the water a place to go. There are several different kinds to suit different types of foundations.
  • Seal your basement walls. This and many of the other options listed here can be taken care of by basement waterproofing professionals. Do your research, read reviews and get quotes from a few places before deciding on the company to help you with your unique waterproofing needs.
  • Make sure you dehumidify. This is important whether you sustain flooding or not, but certainly a necessity if you do. Anything that gets wet needs to be properly dried to avoid mold growth.
  • For more severe cases like properties that take on storm surges that cause feet of water to quickly collect you may want to look into more drastic measures such as raising the entire house.

Flooding on Cape Cod

We’ve seen many storms and some pretty nasty winters the last few years here on Cape Cod, but last week was certainly something different for the area. While locals braced themselves for a storm after sustaining a long cold snap they didn’t quite expect to be facing such a major flood situation.

Provincetown’s high tide just after noon measured a whole 4’ higher than the previous tide, hitting a total height of over 10’ and turning Commercial Street into a river. Not only did the tides raise, the groundwater level rose so places like dirt crawlspaces flooded and all of the melting snow didn’t drain completely into the ground. Some areas reported surges that exceeded those of the historic Blizzard of ’78!

Eastham, MA Storm Surge Flooding

Not only were areas of the Cape being devastated with storm surge and groundwater damage, the warmer temperatures thawed homes with frozen pipes causing water damage in other areas.  We can’t stress enough the importance of winterizing your home if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time. Even if it’s just a short while, make sure someone checks in on it, that your water is off and that your heat is on. Open your cabinets under sinks to allow for the warm air to flow to the plumbing. If you’re away often, purchase a water detector for damage prone areas like the basement to alert you as soon as water is detected, and Wi-Fi enabled thermostats so you can monitor the temperature in the house.  These things help you act fast when disaster strikes so you can minimize the amount of damage you sustain.

Complicating matters even further were the power outages. Most heating systems rely on electricity to work so when the storm knocked out power to areas it also knocked out the heat. Later that night temperatures dropped to a deep freeze.  It was a recipe for disaster. Pipes were even freezing in homes that were primary to the residents and the heat was on. It was really that cold, and the wind was that strong that it froze pipes in their exterior walls and ceilings.

Although there are a lot of areas where homeowners are required to purchase flood insurance because of their location on FEMA’s flood maps those policies don’t cover damaged contents. Think of all of the things that people keep in their basements; seasonal clothes, pantry items, extra furniture, etc. Finished basements could be entire bedrooms, offices and TV rooms. Flood insurance at least covers damage to burners and electrical equipment, but the cost to not only replace but dispose of all of the contents can be in the thousands.

“25% of homes with flood claims each year are in low risk zones.”

It has been a real eye opener. As restoration efforts continue and our crews remain available round-the-clock for emergency services we hope that everyone really takes a look at the measures they have in place for such disasters to protect themselves, their business and their homes from future events. It’s obvious the weather patterns continue to change, and the storms seem to be getting stronger, so please, stay safe out there and make sure you prepare for all of the possibilities.

Why do you at least need basic homeowner’s insurance?

It is amazing how many insurance options are available today. Health – Car – Boat – Animals – Jewelry – Even body parts! These days you can ask a loaner to insure just about anything for a price, with borrower responsibilities. Some options can be a bit extreme, but why do you need to insure your home?

home

Well first of all, your home is a costly investment. Should something happen to it, it could take years to rebuild the finances to replace it. In a policy, the structure is often referred to as your “dwelling”. Homes are so complex in how they are built that the costs keep running from the studs in the framing to the last coat of paint. Don’t forget about the cost of building permits and inspections also. Unless you hired contractors to have your home built from foundation up, you probably aren’t aware of the actual costs to rebuild the entire thing, including unattached property such as a shed or garage. When purchasing insurance, consult to make sure your dwelling coverage is suitable to cover a loss.

The next reason to insure your home is that not only does it house you, but also most of your belongings. Should something happen to the house, your contents (or assets) will also be affected. It is going to take long enough to rebuild the cost of the house, never mind the cost to replace your clothes, furniture, kitchens supplies, books, TV’s etc. Think about the things you would pack to bring on a long trip. The cost of those items alone, especially necessities, would be enough to justify insuring them. What a relief it would be if you happened to have a major disaster to know that you don’t have to agonize over replacing everything out-of-pocket.

I’m sure that you’ve heard one rendition or another of “be thankful for the roof over your head and the food in your belly”. Well, what happens if your roof is compromised and no longer over head? You still need a place to sleep, keep necessities, and shower. You may have to temporarily rent a place until your restoration company completes the repairs. With homeowner’s insurance you may be compensated for some of the costs to do so until you can return home.

Lastly, if you’ve taken a mortgage out on the house you might be strictly required to purchase and maintain homeowner’s insurance. Some lenders will even refuse to agree to a mortgage unless the applicant commits to doing so. Should you drop your coverage on your home, your mortgage company could even take action against you. In this case, if you want to keep your home, be sure to insure.

From coast to coast, everyone lives in a place that is vulnerable to accidents and disasters. Know the value of your home, keep good inventory of your personal belongings, and always make sure that your homeowner’s policy is properly renewed. Between securing your investment, securing replacement cost for your contents, keeping up with your mortgage requirements, or making sure you have a place to go; you need to have insurance for your home.