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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tips to Prevent Wind Damage to Your Home or Business

Thunderstorms are often associated with high velocity winds and microbursts that can result in extensive damage to a home or business.  Wind from tornadoes and hurricanes also cause billions of dollars in property damage each year and can leave an enormous path of destruction in their wake.

While certain parts of the country may experience strong winds more frequently than others, they can and do occur virtually everywhere.  Wind damage can result in everything from cosmetic and structural damage to a property’s complete destruction.  Even seemingly minor damage can result in water being able to enter a property and causing interior damage to building material and belongings.  This moisture can also result in the growth of mold in less than 48 hours in many circumstances if the materials are allowed to remain wet or moist.

Fortunately, there are steps that property owners can take to help prevent damage due to strong winds.  They include the following:

·       Ensure any rooftop HVAC units are properly secured.
·       Check shingles or roof tiles to make sure they are properly fastened and meet or exceed local building codes.
·       Be sure roof sheathing is properly nailed down and that the connections between the roof and walls will not allow updrafts to damage the roof.
·       Check chimneys, sky lights and roof exhaust pipes to ensure they are sealed and properly secured.
·       Be sure exterior doors are hinged or braced properly and can withstand strong winds.
·     The building’s exterior, siding and windows should be sealed and properly secured to prevent wind damage and wind-driven rain from harming the interior.
·       Trim back trees to prevent damage from broken limbs or uprooted trees.
·     Be sure anything stored outdoors and any outbuildings are properly secured and that fencing is braced well enough to survive strong winds.
·       For commercial properties, check to make sure any signage is properly designed, anchored and secured.

“Wind damage is covered under most standard insurance policies, but there can be exceptions,” said Tom Allen from Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters, LLC. “With so many wind damage claims cases under our belts, we have found that insurance companies will often not investigate beyond the obvious visible signs of damage.  This is a significant issue because we have frequently discovered substantial hidden damages that would otherwise not have been repaired if our public adjusters weren’t involved in the claim. As an insurance policyholder, it’s important for anyone facing this type of claim to completely understand how badly their home or business is damaged before settling an insurance claim.”

Property owners that do experience wind damage or other forms of property damage can turn to the professionals at Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters for help. Their experts look for more than just superficial damages and work diligently to resolve insurance claims comprehensively to obtain the most accurate insurance settlement possible.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Insurance Claims due to Vandalism & Theft can be a Challenge for Policy Holders

According to the Insurance Information Institute, about 1 out of every 200 insured homes files a property damage claim each year due to theft.  Theft and vandalism are two of the most common reasons that insurance claims are filed for both homeowners and commercial property owners.

Most people find vandalism and theft particularly offensive as the loss often leaves them feeling violated. To make matters worse, insurance carriers typically will look first to see if the claim can be denied due to occupancy or other policy requirements.

“If you are faced with filing a vandalism or theft claim, it is highly recommended to have an experienced claims professional on your side to assist in documenting and negotiating the claim before the insurance company can attempt to deny the claim or provide less than full coverage,” said Douglas Waldie, President of Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters, LLC. “There are also steps that need to be taken in most circumstances when a theft or vandalism incident has taken place.  Call the police and file a report and be sure to get a copy of the paperwork.  Items that were stolen or damaged need to be documented to show proof of ownership and each item should be listed in the police report.  Quite often the insurance company will offer only partial values for the items so it’s important to have as much documentation as possible.  This documentation may include receipts, appraisals, pictures and videos.”

Due to the complicated nature of theft and vandalism claims, policy holders should consider hiring a licensed public adjuster to be their advocate.  In almost all circumstances, the final claim value is significantly higher when a policy holder engages the services of a professional public adjuster.

For those faced with filing a claim, the experts at Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters will document the loss, review what is covered under the policy and negotiate with the insurance provider to obtain the most accurate and complete settlement possible.  They charge no out-of-pocket costs and only receive a small percentage of the settled claim as payment for their services. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tips to Prepare Unoccupied Vacation Homes to Prevent Costly Water Damage

Whether a vacation property is a million dollar beach home, condo in the city, ski chalet, mountain retreat or simple fishing cabin, many of these properties are vacant for extended periods of time. While these properties provide much needed relaxation and a chance to get away for their owners, they can also turn into a costly nightmare if water damage occurs while people are away. 

When a vacation home is unoccupied, even for a short period of time, a small water leak can turn into a major event.  In fact, water damage is one of the most common reasons for a property insurance claim.  In addition to direct damage due to water, mold can begin to grow in less than 48 hours on many building materials, furnishing and household belongs when moisture is introduced.  Once mold is a factor, remediation costs typically increase dramatically and many insurance policies either do not cover mold or provide only minimal coverage.

“Even if there is not a water incursion, high humidity levels from the environment in a vacant house or condo can lead to mold growth and musty odors,” said Tom Allen from Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters, LLC. “Reducing humidity levels through the use of air conditioning during the humid months is one option, but be sure its drain lines are not obstructed.”  

Fortunately, many potential sources of water damage can be averted by checking and preparing the vacation home before leaving it.  Mr. Allen recommends the following steps:

1.     Check the home’s interior and exterior for any signs of leaks and consider turning the water heater off or to vacation mode.
2.    Consider shutting off the water main to the home.  If this cannot be done because of an automatic sprinkler system or other reason, shut off the valves to major appliances within the property.
3.       If the property has a well, consider shutting the pump off. 
4.   Check gutters and downspouts for damage and clear any debris that may be causing obstructions.
5.       If the property has a sump pump, be sure it is in working order.
6.    During freezing weather, be sure the heating system is operating properly and that any exposed pipes are insulated.  It is also a good idea to drain pipes if the water has been shut off by running water faucets and flushing toilets.
7.     Ask a neighbor to periodically check on the property and be sure they know where the water main shut off valve is located.

Vacation and primary homeowners in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey that do experience water damage or other forms of property damage, can turn to the professionals at Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters for help. Their experts resolve insurance claims comprehensively and help to ensure that policy holders obtain the most accurate insurance settlement possible.  They also recently sponsored an educational video with tips for preventing water damage and mold growth in unoccupied vacation properties that can be seen at:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Phoenix Property Owners Learn How Public Adjusters Protect Their Interests when Filing an Insurance Claim

In August, U.S. News & World Report published an article about what property owners need to know and do to file a successful insurance claim.  The article discussions the vulnerable state of mind most property owners find themselves with after a disaster strikes and why they need to protect their interests and not just rely on what they are offered by their insurance provider.

One of the most significant options available to policy holders facing a claim are the resources offered by public adjusters.  In fact, the article lists hiring a public adjuster as one of the key things that can help homeowners file a successful claim.  It states, “While the adjuster sent by the insurance company works for the company, a public adjuster works for you, so he or she will analyze your policy, make your claim and sometimes even help you secure your home, such as covering broken windows or holes in the roof, or find temporary housing.”

In Arizona, one of the leading public adjusters is Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters, LLC (HDPA).  In addition to representing policy holders in Arizona, they also offer their services in Utah, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

“Most people don’t understand all of the potential hurdles they may face when their home or business sustains damage,” said Douglas Waldie, President of Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters, LLC. “An experienced public adjusters knows what needs to be done to ensure a positive outcome.  We handle the claim so the policy holder can rest assured that it is taken care of in a professional, comprehensive and timely manner.  The end result is a happy policy holder who gets their property fixed and receives all of the benefits they are entitled to under their policy.”

There are no out-of-pocket costs for HDPA’s customers.  A licensed public adjuster handles all negotiations and receives a small percentage of the claim as payment for their services. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How to Report Property Damage When Filing an Insurance Claim

Although the 2015 hurricane season has been mild so far, the United States has experienced a number of other natural disasters that have caused widespread property damage in some regions.  Catastrophic wildfires out West and heavy downpours resulting in flooding in various states over the last several months have resulted in millions of dollars of commercial and residential property damage.

While certain types of natural disasters are more prone to impact specific regions of the country, others can occur anywhere.  Due to this fact, it’s important for property owners to be prepared with adequate insurance coverage to protect their property and belongings and to know ahead of time how to react if they experience damages.

Tom Allen from Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters, LLC, a multistate insurance claims expert, provides the following advice for property owners:

·      Report a claim to the insurance company and secure the property as soon as it is safe to do so. Document every form of communication with the insurance provider with dates, times, who was spoken to, and the advice and actions provided by the insurance company.
·       Consider hiring a knowledgeable and licensed public adjuster.  Their singular purpose is to represent the policy holder and be their advocate during the entire claims process.  Not only can a public adjuster expedite the process, they also may uncover damage that was missed by the insurance company to ensure the property is repaired to pre-damage conditions.
·      Be careful with the terminology that is used when communicating with the insurance company.  Some policies do not cover flood or mold damage so avoid using these words.
·     Take pictures of all the damage and do not throw anything away until an insurance representative has inspected the property and given authorization to do so.

“Property owners rarely anticipate that their home or business will be damaged or destroyed, so it can be a real shock when it happens,” said Mr. Allen. “This is why it’s so important to know what to do before being faced with this type of situation.  Getting a public adjuster involved to represent your interests from the beginning can alleviate much of this stress and also ensure the insurance company covers everything under the policy.” 


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