Winter Storm Information

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BEFORE A WINTER STORM

The two things you need in the case of any type of natural disaster are an Emergency Kit and a Family Communication Plan. Your emergency kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

Your kit should be ready long before any emergency. 

Since you may be required to survive on your own, make sure you have sufficient food, water and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. Help may take hours or days. While local officials and relief will be on the scene, they rarely reach everyone immediately. Basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off, so your kit should contain items to help you manage during this type of outage.

Basic Emergency Supply Kit:
• Water, one gallon of water per person per day for three days (both drinking and sanitation)
• Food, three-day supply, non-perishable
• Battery or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries
• Flashlights and extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Whistle
• Dust mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags, plastic ties (personal sanitation)
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
• Manual can opener for food
• Local paper maps
• Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Family Communication Plan

• Your family may not be together, plan how you will contact one another.
• Create a contact card for all family members and keep them in a wallet, purse, backpack, briefcase, etc.
• Check emergency plans with your children’s day care or school.
• Identify a non-local friend or relative household members can notify when they are safe, they may be in a better position to communicate between     separated families.
• If you have a cell phone, program that person(s) as "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings in order to get a hold of someone you know.
• Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.

Other useful links:

• Download & Print the FEMA Emergency Supply List:

<http://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/familylist%5B1%5D.pdf>

Winter Storm Preparedness:

http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm 

FEMA Information

FEMA Photo Library

Apply for FEMA Assistance

There are three ways to apply for assistance:

  • Apply Online at DisasterAssistance.gov
  • Apply via a smartphone at m.fema.gov
  • Apply by Phone:
    • Call (800) 621-3362   ( 800 621 FEMA )
    • Call TTY (800) 462-7585 for people with speech or hearing disabilities.

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Prepare your home or business for storms.

On this page are valuable links, and downloads that you can use to assist you and your family or team. Before, During and After the storm are all reviewed on this page. We also provide Storm Tracking links, and Government Links..

We'll guide you, every step along the way...

Emergency restoration company contacts click here

 

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DOWNLOADS:

Protecting Your Home - Coverages and Questions

Business:  Employee Contact List


STORM TRACKING:

There are several good websites to track the storms:

Quick Tracking Links for our local clients


Prepare and Mitigate a Loss

 

The steps below will help you minimize damage and get back on your feet if you are struck.

Just like WINTER STORMS come in many shapes and sizes, so do insurance policies. The frequently asked questions included here provide information about what policies usually cover, along with some tips on filing claims. To find out about your coverage, consult your policy and contact your professional insurance agent.

 

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Should you file a claim?

You should always contact our office in the event of a claim.  Additionally if there's a slight chance that your property or someone may have suffered injury as a result of the storm or hurricane, then you must take all actions to assist the individual, and/or to reduce the extent of the loss. 

There are, however, situations where it makes sense to not file a claim. Keeping your insurance record clean will probably keep your rates down.

If this is a consideration, read this special report before you make that decision.

How to file a claim or check your claim status

As your independent agent, we'll do our best to make your claim experience a smooth one.

  • To report a claim during regular business hours (8am - 5pm weekdays)...
    Please contact our nearest office for assistance.

  • To report a claim outside of regular business hours...
    Please contact the insurance company directly to put them on notice of the claim. We will be notified of your claim by the insurance company.

  • After your claim is processed...
    We will follow-up with you to ask about your experience and make sure you were treated well.

  • If you have questions or need to check the status of the claim you have already filed...
    Please contact our nearest office for assistance.

If at any point you feel that you're not being treated fairly, need some help along the way or want to share your positive experience with us, please let us know! We're always here for you.

 

Need Emergency Restoration Service?

In the event of a claim, you may need the services of a restoration company who can come to your location 24 x 7 to secure damaged property quickly and effectively.  If you need emergency restoration, please click here for some trustworthy restoration companies we recommend in the area.

 

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Frequently asked questions

1. I have reported my claim, now what should I do?
You should take all steps necessary to prevent further damage—securing property, temporarily boarding windows and roof, drying out carpets and personal property, etc. If the insured does not do this and further damage results, it may not be covered.

You should not undertake any permanent repairs, nor dispose of any damaged property before an adjuster has been able to see the damage. When there is water damage to the contents of a home, you should remove water-soaked contents such as carpeting and furniture, however, you should not dispose of such items before an insurance adjuster sees them. You can place such items outside under a tarpaulin. In the case of perishable items (i.e., food) that must be disposed of, first take photographs of that property to substantiate the claim. If you do not, some damages may not be covered.

You should retain all receipts for emergency repairs and for items which might qualify under additional living expenses (such as water, ice, rental charges at another location if the home is uninhabitable, etc.).

2. Is there anything I can do to speed up the claims process?
Although the adjuster will contact you as soon as possible, priority will be given to the most severe losses. Also, be aware that larger claims will be settled in stages, not all at once. While waiting for the adjuster, there are a number of things you can do:

  • You may wish to secure a repair estimate (preferably at least two) for the adjuster to review. This will help the adjuster with the settlement process.
  • Take pictures of the damaged property. If you have pictures of the property before the loss, these should be provided to the adjuster.
  • Make a list of all damaged property, including a description, age, original cost, place of purchase and estimated replacement cost. Any receipts or canceled checks for these items also should be included.

3. What if my home is so damaged I can’t stay in it?
Under most homeowners and dwelling forms, coverage is provided for additional living expenses. If the home is uninhabitable due to a covered peril and you must temporarily relocate, most policies will reimburse for the reasonable expenses incurred over and above your normal living costs. For example, it would probably cover all reasonable housing expenses since you will be paying a mortgage payment, but would only cover food expenses over and above what the policyholder normally would pay for food.

It is imperative that you retain all receipts for these expenses in order for them to be considered as a part of the loss. The expenses must be in line with normal living costs and must be a necessary and direct result of the loss.

Most policies limit recovery under additional living expenses to a percentage of the amount of coverage on the home itself.

4. What coverage is there for trees that are down?
There is no coverage under standard dwelling and homeowners policies for damage to trees by “weather perils” (such as wind). However, if the tree falls and causes damage to some other type of covered property (such as a house or fence), the damage to the house or fence would be covered. Separate windstorm coverage can be purchased as an added endorsement.

5. Power was out for five days and the food in my freezer and refrigerator spoiled. Is it covered?
Generally, most residential policies do not cover food spoilage resulting from power outages due to the “power failure” exclusion. A small number of companies provide some very limited coverage (i.e., $250-$500) as a coverage enhancement. Aside from this, coverage is generally not available.

6. When power finally came back on, a power surge damaged some of my electrical equipment. Is it covered?
Most homeowners policies provide coverage as “sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current”; however, coverage does not apply to loss of transistors, computer chips and similar items. Therefore, damage from a power surge would not be covered for property such as televisions, VCRs, computers or similar items.

7. The adjuster was here last week and I still haven’t gotten my check. How long is this going to take?
After the adjuster has visited the insured, he must complete detailed paperwork on the loss, which is subsequently submitted to the carrier for review. After everything has been checked, the carrier will issue the claims draft to the insured. If the adjuster is carrying a heavy claim load, there is often quite a delay in completing the paperwork by the adjuster, since they generally must do this at night, as well as the delay at the company as it deals with thousands of claims to review at one time. Often, an insurance agent can check with the adjuster to find out exactly when the paperwork was submitted to the carrier. If the papers have been sent in, the company also may be able to provide a status report.

8. I’ve just received my claim check, and it’s not enough.
If the check is for a lower amount than the insured expected, it is usually due to policy terms that require settlement on an actual-cash-value basis with replacement cost being paid at the time repairs or replacements are actually completed. Check with your agent or company.

 

9. What is the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost coverage?
If the policy indicates that settlement will be on a replacement cost basis, then payment will be made for the actual cost to repair or replace at today’s prices, limited only by the total amount of coverage that was purchased. If the adjustment basis is actual cash value, settlement will be made by determining the replacement cost at today’s prices and subtracting from that amount a reasonable amount for depreciation, age or obsolescence. Some policies provide coverage for the home on a “guaranteed replacement cost” basis. In this situation, the carrier will pay whatever it costs to repair or rebuild the home, regardless of policy limits.

10. I was told I was ‘underinsured.’ How can this be?
Too often, homeowners neglect to review their homeowners insurance. Changes to your home such as the addition of a room or an increase in your home’s value may affect your coverage. Call your professional insurance agent for the best advice. 5/12

 

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Protect Yourself Against POST STORM SCAMS

If you or one of your clients should be approached by someone offering to help repair the home or to assess its damage, it's important to exercise caution and consider the following:

  • Never feel forced into make an immediate decision and don't be fooled into deals or discounts that are only available for a limited time.
  • If an inspector or service technician is claiming they work for an authorized provider or insurance company, always ask to see their credentials before allowing them into your home.
  • Never let anyone persuade you to seek reimbursement for nonexistent or exaggerated losses or damages. This is insurance fraud, which is a felony.
  • For contractors and repair service providers, please visit the Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org/) and learn more about their company's reliability and their authority to do business in your state.
  • Ask contractors for references and examples of their work.
  • Avoid making cash payments.
  • Request multiple estimates from other reputable companies specializing in the same services.
  • For contractors and repair service providers, ask for a copy of their company's insurance certificate and verify that the coverage is currently in-force. On the certificate, look to verify that the contractor/service provider has both General Liability Insurance, as well as Workers' Compensation Insurance.
  • Do not sign any contracts before reviewing it carefully. Never let anyone recite the terms of the contract either; read it for yourself and make sure the services offered are consistent with what you verbally agreed to.
  • Do not make any deposits or down-payments before doing your research and feeling confident in the company you've chosen.
  • Inspect all work prior to making any down payments.
  • Price gouging, which is the act of selling necessary goods and services at a price much higher than what is normally deemed reasonable, is illegal and should be reported to local authorities.
If anyone claims to have already performed work on your property and is demanding payment, contact your local authorities immediately