Tag Archives: inventory

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!

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.

November Home Maintenance

We can smell the Turkey already! Within the hustle and bustle of planning your Thanksgiving holiday celebrations and Black Friday shopping lists, work in these maintenance items to stay on top of your game.

November Colors

  • Daylight savings ends this month. Replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when you change your clocks.
  • Shut off outdoor water spouts and empty hoses for storage.
  • Make sure everyone in the household knows where the main water shut-off is and how to use it.
  • Drain or stabilize the fuel from your gas powered lawn equipment that you won’t be using for the winter season and test your winter equipment.
  • Inspect your automatic garage door opener and lubricate it according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Reprogram your thermostats for the winter season and reverse the direction of your ceiling fans.
  • Clean your refrigerator inside and out removing all food, shelves, trays and old ice from the ice maker. Replace the baking soda.
  • Restock and update your severe weather emergency kit. Check expiration dates on first aid and supplies.
  • Back-up your computer files either on the cloud or on an external hard drive that you keep in a weather tight place.

Printable Version: November Home Maintenance Checklist

I’ve had a fire! What now?

What can you expect after you’ve had a fire at your property? Well that’s highly dependent on the extent of damage the fire caused. We’ll explain here some typical expectations after a fire that has caused a decent amount of damage to the property.house_fire

The first 24 hours after a fire:

The fire department has wrapped up from extinguishing the flames. You’ll need confirmation from the fire department that it is safe to enter the property.

Contact your insurance company and start a claim. Make sure to ask them for a claim number when reporting.

  • TIP: Save important information such as policy numbers, important telephone numbers, and insurance contacts on a cloud based storage and/or on your mobile phone. If these options aren’t available to you, store them at a secure off-site location.

Be prepared: Different restoration companies may arrive on site after hearing of the fire, eager to assist you. You’ll want to hire someone for the initial board-up services to secure the doors, windows, or any other areas exposing the house to the elements or theft. If you already have one in mind, give them a call a.s.a.p.

  • TIP: This can be a mentally taxing time. Save yourself confusion and anguish by doing your research before the fire. Search your local fire damage restoration company options. Don’t hesitate to call, request references, and ask questions. Save their information off-site, on the cloud, and or/on your mobile phone for easy reference, just like you would those important insurance and policy numbers.

Make sure that the power and gas companies have been notified that the house had a fire. Depending on the size of the fire, the fire department may have the companies pull the meters from the property.

The next few days after a fire:

You’ll be getting a call from an adjuster to schedule a meeting at the property. During this appointment for the initial walkthrough, both the restoration company manager and the insurance adjuster should be present, so you may want to give the restoration company a call. The main purpose is to address the factors of contents, temporary living, and timeline of the restoration. By working with the insurance company directly and coming to an agreement on the scope of work, the entire process runs more efficiently.

If the fire was severe enough, use this time to call your cable, phone, and alarm companies to put a temporary hold on your services.

With approval, debris removal and pack-out services may commence.

  • TIP: Keep a home inventory list! Having all this information on file can do wonders for expediting the contents claiming. Depending on the extent of  the fire, some contents may be unidentifiable. Make sure everything is claimed at its value by updating this list often and keeping it in a safe place. Knowyourstuff.org is one of many great resources for doing so. They even have a mobile application!

The next few weeks

The insurance company will agree on a scope of work. This will detail what the insurance company is allowing to be done.

The restoration company will apply for the appropriate permits. Dumpsters or storage pods may be delivered to the property. Debris removal and pack-out services will commence if they haven’t already.

Unless it’s already been covered, the restoration company may want to review the scope of work with you, making sure you understand exactly what the insurance company is expecting.

Demolition of damaged areas will commence as necessary.

Your restoration company will work as efficiently as possible to give you back your property completely restored. The timeline depends on the extent of the fire damage, selection decisions and ordering of materials, and how responsive you are to insurance and mortgage company requests.

The Final Conclusion

Each fire loss has its own unique process based on how many variables there are to be considered.  Being prepared with an inventory list, off-site and mobile stored policy/contact information, and pre-loss research on reliable restoration companies is important to every one of them.

 

 

 

Homeowner’s Insurance: Get personal with your policy

You buy a house and take out a standard insurance policy on it. You pay your premiums and renew every year.  All seems sound and simple until a storm comes and your house is flooded. All of a sudden you are told that you don’t have flood insurance and that nothing it covered. Don’t let yourself wind up in this situation. Don’t just renew your policy every year but reintroduce yourself and get to know it.

Insurance_Policy

The first item I need to urge you on is to make sure your policy is renewed on time! Write it on your calendar, program it into your phone, and make a big mental note. Usually policies are written yearly. In our industry we witness losses denied too often because of a lapse in coverage. The loss just so happened to occur in the month that sat between expiration and renewal. If that’s the case, you are unfortunately on your own to cover the expenses. I’m not saying don’t trust your agent to properly renew it for you, but I am holding you accountable for making sure it is done. You should obtain an updated copy of your policy once it is renewed.

Educate yourself on the amount of coverage you have. Is your dwelling (structural) coverage sufficient to support a major disaster? Consult a local building contractor if you would like a second opinion on just how much you should allot for, keeping in mind any changes you may make to the property. Do you have a separate flood policy? Flood coverage is not included in basic homeowner’s policies. What other events are excluded from your basic coverage? What is your standard deductible?  What is your wind deductible? Are you subject to a specific hurricane deductible? Some deductibles can be very different than you standard deductible. Verify what exact perils the policy does and does not cover.

That covers mostly the house’s well being, but what about your personal property? Coverage for your contents is based on a percentage of your dwelling coverage. You may want to take out additional contents insurance for your antiques, guns, computers, silver, etc. This is where an inventory list comes in handy. If you take the time to inventory your belongings, say during your seasonal cleaning, you can bring that with you when reviewing the policy with your agent. An inventory would also come in handy if you were to suffer a major loss such as a fire. You’ll need an itemized contents list to submit to your insurance in order receive your contents limit.

What responsibilities do you need to uphold under this coverage? Keep inflation in mind. As property values rise, usually building costs do too. You must insure your home up to a certain percentage of the cost to replace it which will be set by your insurance company. Say this requirement is 80% (and just for this example you have no deductible – not typical I know):  If it would cost $300,000 to replace your home and you have $180,000 (75% of the required amount) as your dwelling limit, your insurance company may only cover 75% of your loss. If you have $75,000 worth of damage, you could be responsible for paying $18,750 out-of-pocket!

Responsibilities also include proper maintenance. If you have a second home here on Cape Cod and you don’t refill the oil to keep the heat up during the freezing months, a pipe might freeze, break and flood your house. Since you neglected to keep the oil tank full and properly care for the property your insurance company may not cover the repairs. Seasonal maintenance checklists aren’t always just great suggestions or ploys for you to spend more at your local hardware store.  You really should clean those gutters! Your coverage just might depend on it.

Talk with your agent about what happens if you do experience a loss. Ask them how much additional living expenses you are covered for if you lose the use of your home. Make sure it’s enough for you and your family. Don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with your insurance agent to review your policy at any time. They are your agent! It is part of their job to translate your policy details for you and make suggestions.

That may be a lot of information to take, in so here is a recap:

  • Always make sure your insurance policy is renewed on time and that you receive a copy
  • Make sure you have the proper amount of dwelling coverage not only so that you have enough to cover the cost of repair, but also to meet your insurance requirements.
  • Get to know the different deductibles you may be subject to and in what instances you will encounter them.
  • Look into possibly needing additional policies such as Flood insurance
  • Make & update your contents inventory!
  • Know your responsibilities required by your policy to keep coverage. Spring cleaning anyone?
  • Check on the living expenses you’ll be granted if you lose the use of your home to damage.
  • But all and all: Know your policy – talk with your agent!