Recent Storm Damage Posts
Lack of flood insurance heaps misery on homeowners slammed by Hurricane Florence
The drenching rains and massive flooding caused by Florence are expected to inflict a high financial toll on homeowners in North Carolina and other states, as only a small percentage are covered by flood insurance that could help offset the costs of rebuilding their damaged homes.
An estimated quarter of a million homes in North Carolina are projected to be affected by Florence, which has caused flash flooding and record rain amounts across the state, according to CoreLogic, a property analytics company.
Estimates from insurance analysts and actuaries show an alarmingly high percentage of homeowners – both in coastal towns and those far inland – that are underinsured for a water-driven natural disaster as destructive as Florence.
Only 10 percent to 20 percent of coastal homeowners in the hard-hit eastern part of North Carolina, for example, have coverage through the government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and only 1 percent to 3 percent of homes in inland counties have flood policies, according to estimates from John Rollins, an actuary at consulting firm Milliman. Statewide, roughly 3 percent of the homes in North Carolina have flood coverage and 8 percent of homeowners are covered in South Carolina, Rollins said.
“Obviously, that leaves a lot of people uninsured,” Rollins told USA TODAY.
The numbers of those covered are low, he said, because people think that because their home isn't in a high-risk zone designated by the government that there's "zero risk" of a flood. "But that's not true," Rollins says. Many also don't realize their basic homeowners policy doesn't cover flood damage, while others overestimate the disaster aid they will get from the government.
Unfortunately, standard homeowners insurance won’t cover any flooding-related issues. The estimated insured losses from Florence are in the range of $3 billion to $5 billion, according to CoreLogic. Goldman Sachs, a Wall Street bank, said they could go as high as $10 billion to $20 billion.
Insurers should have no problem being able to pay out claims to policy holders because the industry has cash reserves of roughly half a trillion dollars, according to Matt Carletti, senior insurance analyst at JMP Securities.
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The problem for homeowners is that insured losses generally are only about one-third of total economic losses, which puts them on the hook financially for a more sizable part of their home rebuilds if losses are due to uncovered flood costs, Carletti said.
To get flood coverage, homeowners must buy a separate policy. Most purchase this extra coverage from the government-backed NFIP program, which is designed to restore your home to its preflood condition and replace your possessions. NFIP policies, which carry average premiums of about $600 to $700 a year but can run into the thousands of dollars in high-risk zones, cover up to $250,000 for a home's structure and up to $100,000 for personal possessions.
Homeowners not covered for flood damage can seek federal disaster assistance in the form of grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or apply for a loan from the Small Business Administration, said Steve Bowen, meteorologist for Aon Benfield's Impact Forecasting division. FEMA may provide up to $33,000 in assistance for home repair, although the average for Superstorm Sandy in 2012 was about $8,000 and roughly $7,100 for Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
At the end of July, there were 134,306 active NFIP flood policies in place in North Carolina, Bowen said. That's only 3 percent of the estimated 4.62 million housing units in the state, he said, citing U.S. Census Bureau data.
Damage to homes caused by floods tend to be costly. The estimated potential loss for a 1,000-square-foot, single-story home with possessions worth $20,000 that is inundated with just 1 inch of interior water can run as high as $11,000, according to FEMA data, and the estimated loss for 5 inches of water climbs to more than $18,000.
Given the fact that many parts of North Carolina have received rain totals of 2 feet or more, many homeowners will be facing high rebuild costs they may not be able to afford.
“You are looking at a lot of homeowners that will have out-of-pocket costs that could easily be five figures, or more than $10,000,” said Cathy Seifert, an insurance analyst at CFRA, a Wall Street research firm.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —
After a storm moved through the Sacramento area, emergency crews responded to hundreds of calls regarding toppled trees that damaged property.
Experts break down what you should do if your property sustains storm damage: Advertisement
1) File a claim immediately
Insurance agents said they are busy processing claims after Wednesday's storm. They said the faster you file, the sooner you can get an agent to your property to assess the damage.
Claims that aren't complicated usually don't take long to process, Sacramento-based State Farm Michael Yee insurance agent said.
2) Contact storm damage repair companies
Some storm damage repair companies in the Sacramento area said their phones have been ringing off the hook. They recommend getting problems fixed as soon as possible, especially with more wet weather and potential problems ahead.
3) Make sure your contractor is licensed with the state
When it's time to make repairs, the California Office of Emergency Services warns people to make sure your contractor is licensed with the California Contractors State License Board.
The board also warned against paying in cash, being cautious about door-to-door offers of repair services and recommend always having a written contract.
4) Be prepared to pay out of pocket
Yee said whether the damage was done by a tree owned by you, your neighbor or the city, some expenses will likely come out of your pocket through a deductible.
5) Don't wait for more storms to contact your insurance company
Yee said damage to your home or car can't always be bundled together. Some problems will have different deductibles, so make sure to file as soon as the damage happens -- even if you have to file multiple times.
Lightning coverage and safety
Lightning can cause damage to your home and belongings—and can cause bodily harm. It's prudent to take steps to prevent the dangerous effects of lightning and to keep yourself and your family safe. Here are some things you can do.
Lightning and insurance
Your standard homeowners and business insurance policies, and the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy cover damages—such as a fire—that results from a lightning strike. Some policies also provide coverage for the damage caused by power surges.
That said, it's far better to prevent lightning damage than to have to deal with the consequences.
Protect your home by installing a lightning protection system
A lightning protection system (LPS) provides a specified path on which lightning can travel. The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) explains how LPSs work in this infographic. A rooftop network of lightning rods or air terminals is connected to a series of down conductors, which carry the current down to a grounding network. In that way, the system safely directs the destructive power of the lightning strike into the ground, which leaves the structure of your home or business and its contents undamaged.
Lightning protection is not a “do-it-yourself” project—contract a UL-listed lightning protection specialist to install the system in accordance with national safety standards.
Protect your home and electronics from surges
Electrical surges from lightning can enter a structure via power transmission lines and cause electrical fires as well as damage to your building's electrical system, your appliances and your home electronics.
Regular power strips offer little surge protection. To assure the best safeguards, UL-listed surge protection devices (SPDs) should be installed to filter and dissipate damaging electrical discharges. Most electric utilities will rent or sell a surge device for the electric meter to “clamp down” on incoming surges; licensed electricians can install similar protection.
To protect valuable electronics like computers, home entertainment centers, gaming systems and smart home technology, install UL-listed transient voltage surge suppressors–and consider unplugging expensive electronics when you know a storm is approaching.
Protect yourself and your family with precautions
- When thunder roars, go indoors. During a storm, it's best to take shelter in a house or other fully enclosed building. Inside, don’t stand near open windows, doorways or metal piping. Stay off the phone and avoid contact with small appliances, like toasters and hairdryers. As water conducts electricity, also stay away from plumbing, sinks, tubs and radiators.
- If you know a storm is coming, avoid known hazards and dangerous locations. These include areas where you will be the highest object—a golf course, for example. Bodies of water also attract lightning, so avoid lakes, beaches or open water, and fishing from a boat or dock. Never ride golf carts, farm equipment, motorcycles or bicycles during a thunderstorm.
- If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, take shelter in a hard topped-vehicle or a low area such a tunnel or even a cave if necessary. Stay clear of fences, isolated trees and other conductive objects such as telephone poles, power lines and pipelines. These present a danger from a potential side flash, which is voltage from a nearby, lightning-struck object.
- If you're caught in an open field with no nearby shelter, and your hair begins to stand on end, drop down into a crouch with your hands on your knees, and balance on the balls of your feet. The static electricity in your hair is an indication that lightning is about to strike, and the idea is to make as little contact with the ground as possible. Never lie down flat or place your hands on the ground.
Know What Steps to Take as Spring Storms Occur
Beautiful Spring... It can also bring major storm activity and being prepared to protect yourself, your home and contents is important.
Green grass, colorful flowers, relaxing rain showers and distant, whispering rumbles of thunder. But it isn't always this peaceful. Consider the notes below, Northeast Ohio, and take to safe steps when dangerous weather is predicted for Summit County, Portage County and/or Canton.
Tornadoes- Spring can be the peak season for tornado activity. Tornadoes occur mostly on warm spring days between 3:00 and 9:00 p.m. However, tornadoes can occur anywhere, at any time of the year, at any time of the day.
The Red Cross has safety steps people should take now to be ready if a tornado warning is issued for someone’s neighborhood:
- Download the free Red Cross tornado app for mobile devices. The tornado app puts everything you need to know to stay safe in a tornado at your fingertips. The app can be downloaded from the iTunes or Google Play stores by searching for American Red Cross.
- Know your community’s warning system.
- Pick a safe room in your home where family members can gather if a tornado is headed your way. This should be a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
- Prepare for strong winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
- Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
- Know the tornado danger signs – dark, often greenish clouds, a wall cloud, cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or a roaring noise.
Thunderstorms- Thunderstorms are most likely to happen in the spring and summer, during the afternoon and evening. However, like tornadoes, they can happen anywhere, at any hour of the day. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people every year that tornadoes or hurricanes.
The Red Cross has steps you can take if a thunderstorm is predicted for your area:
- If thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning.
- Watch for storm signs like darkening skies, flashes of lightning or increasing winds.
Postpone any outdoor activities. Many people who are struck by lightning are not where it is raining.
- Take shelter in a substantial building or a vehicle with the windows closed. Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Stay away from windows.
- Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
If you are outside or driving, there are things you should do to remain safe. Information can be found with the following link discussing what to do before, during and after a thunderstorm.
Flooding- Spring can be a time of year for flooding. Communities in the Midwest and south have already seen floodwaters inundate neighborhoods. Snow melt and heavy spring rains fill rivers and streams and flooding can occur. Flash floods occur suddenly when water rises rapidly along a stream or low-lying area. People should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and head for higher ground when a flood or flash flood warning is issued.
Other safety steps include:
- Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
- If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
Heed this advice as the Spring weather begins ! Stay safe, Northeast Ohio !
Storm Damage ? Call SERVPRO of Canton at our 24/7 Emergency Service line - 330-966-2377 or Request Help Online
FEMA Publishes Guidance for Handling Flood Losses
There's no easy solution.
The 2017 Hurricane Season was a brutal one. Seventeen named storms struck the United States causing a record-setting $200 billion in damage.
Much of this damage occurred not from high winds or storm surges, but from extended heavy rains that triggered major flooding.
In an effort to facilitate prompt post-inspection advance payments to policyholders, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published an outline of steps, serving as guidance for handling flood losses.
- Report the loss to your insurance agent or the insurance carrier, who will in turn assign an adjusting firm who provides an adjuster to assist you with presenting the support for your loss.
- The adjuster inspects the property (scoping visit) and may ask if you wish to request an advance payment from your insurer; the adjuster will send you a detailed room-by-room unit-cost estimate of damage and a proof of loss form. If you agree, the proof of loss form should be signed to and sworn to, and upon your insurer's review and agreement, the loss is settled.
- If you do not agree, you should work with your adjuster to find a dollar amount for the covered loss that can be agreed on. Also, working with your general contractor is helpful.
- If you are unable to reach an agreement with the adjuster, you should contact your adjuster's supervisor by calling the adjusting firm.
- The supervisor should work with you to find a dollar amount for the covered loss that can be agreed on.
- If you are unable to reach an agreement with the adjuster's supervisor, you should contact your insurance carrier's claims department to discuss the amount difference or coverage issue with the claim examiner.
- If you are unable to reach an agreement with the claims examiner, you should complete a proof of loss form for the total amount you are requesting (the disputed amount plus any additional amount), and then send the signed and sworn-to proof of loss form with documentation to support the additional amount you are requesting, directly to the insurance carrier claim examiner.
- If the insurer agrees with your documentation, they will pay the amount you are requesting; or they may provide the adjusting firm with their recommendation which may lead to an additional payable amount and a new Proof of Loss. If the insurer disagrees, they will issue payment for any undisputed amount, and a written denial letter will be sent to you fully explaining the reasons for the disallowance (denial) of your claim or any portion of your claim.
- If you agree with the denial or no longer dispute the decision, the loss is settled.
- For any denial of payment, in whole or in part, which you are disputing, three options remain:
- You may send an amended Proof of Loss with supporting documentation back to the claim examiner; see STEP 8
- You may submit a formal Appeal to FEMA
- A written appeal letter must be sent to FEMA within 60 days of your insurer's denial letter, along with a copy of the denial letter and the documentation you have to support your appeal.
- You may file a lawsuit against your insurer
- A lawsuit must be filed within one year of your insurer's first written denial letter and only in U.S. District Court in the district where the property is located at the time of the loss
- However, once you file a lawsuit, you may no longer appeal your claim to FEMA or file an amended Proof of Loss with your insurer.
Storm or water damage ? Call SERVPRO of Canton's 24/7 Emergency Service line - 330-966-2377 or Request Help Online
Preparing for Spring
There are dangers posed by wet or flooded basements, so it's important to call a flood damage professional like SERVPRO of Canton.
Well, folks, Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow, predicting 6 more weeks of winter. While we have trusted the Pennsylvania groundhog for countless years, additional weather-predicting rodents have called for an early Spring this year, 2018. That being said, it is never too soon to begin preparing for the back and forth weather that Spring is.
The most severe of storms Spring can bring are thunderstorms. When warm, moist air collides with cool, dry air, thunderstorms can bring lightning, tornadoes and flooding, and if not properly prepared, this can cause extensive damage to your home or business.
Below are 5 ways to prepare your home for storm damage that can cost you hundreds, even thousands, of dollars, if not kept on mind:
- Clean your gutters. Clear any debris from your gutters to make sure all the rain water can easily flow off your roof away from your home. When water can't get through your gutters, it pools on your roof and around your house. For further information on this subject, refer to our blog post, "Rain Gutters and Water Problems."
- Trim your trees. Some of the worst storm damage is caused by falling trees. A healthy, sturdy tree is unlikely to topple in high winds, but one with dead limbs, or disproportionate growth might. Spring is the perfect time to contact an arborist to evaluate your trees, and if you’ve got large trees on your property, you should have them evaluated yearly. Maintaining them will help you protect both your property and the tree itself.
- Back up your sump pump. When heavy rains come, sump pumps can get overloaded. A flooded basement can cause all sorts of damage to your contents, and when water covers wiring or electric appliances, things get dangerous. Make sure your sump pump has a battery backup just in case the electricity goes out. You might also consider installing a second, battery operated pump that will come on if the main one fails.
- Gather emergency supplies. American Red Cross recommends keeping a three-day supply of food and water for your family, and a seven-day supply of any medications. You might also add a battery operated radio, and a car adapter for your cell phone.
- Grade your yard. If water pools around your home, your foundation is in jeopardy. Ensuring that your yard slopes away from your home will keep rain water from sitting by your foundation and causing damage. Click here for a YouTube tutorial, provided by "This Old House," on how to grade your home. Most lawn companies, however, offer this service.
As we get closer to the rainy season, consider these five steps to keep your home and family safe.
Do you have water problems ? Call SERVPRO of Canton for help- 330-966-2377
Mobile Homes- Are They Covered?
Wind-damaged mobile homes in Oklahoma.
We might be in Ohio, away from all the severe hurricane damage to trailer parks in Florida, Georgia and Texas, but this does not change how the events have changed our perspective on these homes' insurance coverage.
That perspective being: this is important!
Enlightened by Property Casualty 360's article, Mobile homes — A unique insurance exposure, a mobile home serves as both a home and a vehicle. When on the road, authorities treat it as a vehicle, and once settled down in a trailer park, it becomes a home.
Because of the portable and lightweight nature of mobile homes, wind is a significant hazard! Hurricanes and tornadoes, especially, can cause significant damage to mobile homes with the high winds easily flipping, uplifting and damaging the home.
Strap-downs and straps are required to offer stability from these cases, and some newer models use frame anchors tied to the chassis. Some carriers may require a particular type of tie-down for a specific part of the country. Wind zone ratings will indicate how much wind a mobile home can withstand.
With all this in consideration, is the part-vehicle part-home eligible for homeowner's insurance? Coverage is offered for when the mobile home is on the move, covering collision, collision defined as it is in the auto policy.
"As long as the collision happens while the vehicle is being transported there is coverage," Property Casualty 360's article reads. "Not covered is a loss caused by the home making contact with the transportation vehicle that results in damage to the home unless the transport vehicle was in an accident. The coverage applies for 30 days from the effective date on the endorsement. Coverage also includes upset of the home while it is in transit or stranding or sinking if the home is on a licensed ferry line."
Mobile homes require their own coverage needs, meaning its policy will be different from a homeowner's policy. There are carriers that specialize in mobile homes and the coverages they need:
Do you have storm damage? Call SERVPRO of Canton at 330-966-2377
Water Damage After A Major Storm
SERVPRO Canton arrives quickly & starts the water extraction process almost immediately, minimizing the damage and the cleaning and restoration costs.
When a major storm passes close to the house, the home may suffer water damage that is difficult to repair.
There are many things a family can do to begin repairing any destruction, but a certified professional will likely be needed to get rid of any serious health or structural threats. Contaminated storm surges or floods can carry pathogens and become a breeding ground for mold. If allowed to fester, these mold spores can spread throughout the building and become even more difficult to remove. In many cases, governmental agencies could condemn the structure if the microbial threat is too great.
The main reason a home is sensitive to water damage is because moisture is difficult to detect once the floods recede. Standing liquids can encourage microbial growth within 24 hours and can saturate all kinds of textiles and seep through drywall. Moisture may collect behind the walls, where mold and bacteria may multiply out of sight.
Professional restoration services can quickly identify what items in the home are compromised by water damage. Normally, anything that is porous may need to be discarded if it has come in contact with contaminated fluids. These items, like mattresses, box springs, pillows and particle board, trap more moisture than other materials and foster the growth of microbes.
A family can prepare for professional cleaning by getting rid of these items before the technicians arrive, but be sure to properly record and itemize the items for insurance purposes prior to disposing. Once professionals arrive at the building, they will be able to track down any pockets of excess moisture and remove them.
It’s important for a family to hire professionals that are certified through a reputable organization. Technicians trained in this area know how to find compromised areas and do what it takes to restore them.
Flood damage in your home or business? Call SERVPRO of Canton today at our 24/7 Emergency Service Line - (330) 966-2377 or at our Online Help Line.
Storm Damage: Validating Claims Through Weather Data
In the past year, the U.S. was hit with 8 major storm and climate-related events that each caused more than a billion dollars in property damage.
Data and analytics can go a long way in improving inefficiencies and processes, weather data, to be specific, holding a significant value.
Extreme weather events will always occur and certain areas of the country are more susceptible than others. For the insurance claims industry, this data is especially critical to verify claims following an extreme weather event.
According to Aite Group, "79% of insurers believe that data and analytics will have a significant impact on meeting the needs of [property and casualty] (P&C) customers."
Insurers have several options in capturing data to enhance insurance claims. Drone assessment is among the list for property damage assessments. Pairing weather data with drone services and their accurate imagery of a site could add validity to a claims decision.
Lightning and hail data and additional advanced weather data technologies are imperative for insurance companies in improving internal efficiencies as well as customer operations.
Do you have storm damage? Call us at our 24/7 Emergency Service number, 330-966-2377.
HVAC Compressor Damage: Lightning or Wear & Tear?
In the summer months, when severe weather is most prevalent, property carriers see an increase in claims for lightning damage to HVAC equipment, and most often to the compressor.
HVAC compressor damage due to lightning is commonly misdiagnosed. More often than not, an HVAC claim that is originally reported as damaged by lightning is ultimately found to have suffered damage due to some other cause of loss.
No matter the time of year, one of the most common culprits of compressor failure is mechanical damage due to age-related wear and tear. Nearly 43% of all compressors (regardless of how the damage is initially reported) fail due to this cause of loss.
Considered the “heart” of the HVAC system, the compressor is not only critical to proper system function, but can often be impossible to repair and expensive to replace. Moreover, without understanding the root cause of compressor failure, the simple act of replacing this component may not ultimately resolve the overarching issue. When handling HVAC claims, it is critical to understand what caused the compressor to fail before agreeing on a scope of repair for settlement.
For additional information on mechanical damages versus electrical damages, click here to the source of this information.
Vehicles After Flooding: Filing a Claim
No region is safe from flooding. All 50 states are subject to flash floods.
In the aftermath of a natural disaster, it is important for consumers to be aware of the warning signs of a flood damaged vehicle. If you are in the market to buy a used vehicle, be sure to inspect it carefully.
The following tips on filing a claim will help those with flooded vehicles after a storm:
- Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible. Have your policy readily available and find out whether the damage is covered under the terms of your policy and how long you have to file a claim.
- Your automobile insurance policies cover flooding if you have purchased comprehensive coverage. If you only have liability coverage, your vehicle is not covered for flooding.
- Minimize your losses and document the damage. Take photos of any damage and then make whatever reasonable temporary repairs that are needed.
- Remember that flooding is generally not covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Flood insurance is a separate policy through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program and some private insurers.
- Ask for identification from any agents, adjusters or contractors. Do not sign any contracts for repairs until you have been instructed to do so by your adjuster and you have called the Better Business Bureau in your area.
- Don’t be afraid to file a claim. Storms are considered “Acts of Nature” and an insurance company cannot cancel, refuse to renew or increase the amount of a premium on a homeowners policy based solely on this type of incident.
Do you have storm damage? Contact our SERVPRO franchise at (330) 966-2377 or request help online.
Windstorm Damage: Whose Insurance Covers the Loss?
Straight-line winds are common with the gust front of a thunderstorm or originate with a down-burst from a thunderstorm.
Yes, windstorm damage is covered on a standard homeowner's insurance policy. But whose homeowner's insurance policy covers the loss?
First, it is important to understand what windstorm insurance policies cover. Windstorm insurance is a special type of property and casualty insurance designed to cover damages caused by high winds. Windstorm insurance may cover damages from hurricane-force winds, tornadoes, hail and other weather events that are accompanied by wind gusts that exceed 35 miles per hour.
A hypothetical tree falls on your house.
- Scenario 1: your tree falls on your house. Your homeowner's policy will provide coverage up to your policy limits, after you pay the deductible. The coverage extends to cover damage to your main home, garage, shed or other additional buildings and structures such as a fence. If there is damage to the structure of the house, debris removal is also covered, up to policy limits.
- Scenario 2: your tree falls on your neighbor's house. The basic rule is that the insurance policy of the property that was damaged pays for the loss.
- Scenario 3: your neighbor's tree fell on your house. Your homeowner's insurance policy should pay for any damage per the property claim.
Please note that homeowners insurance usually won't cover a loss caused by negligence or a maintenance-related issue. So if the tree was rotting and ready to fall down before the storm, homeowners insurance likely would not cover the damage the tree caused to your home.
Flood Safety Awareness Week is March 13-19
Floods can be unpredictable and cause a lot of damage. Stay informed and prepared as flood season approaches!
March 13-19 is Flood Safety Awareness Week. According to the National Weather Service, "Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard. The main reason is people underestimate the force and power of water. More than half of all flood related deaths result from vehicles being swept downstream. Of these, many are preventable." As flood season approaches, now is a great time to review such topics as the dangers of flooding, driving through water, and flood insurance. Additional resources are available at http://www.weather.gov/okx/FloodAwarenessWeek2016.