With the Passing of Hurricane Florence, Now Comes the Hard Part
Hopefully folks in the Mid-Atlantic will survive this storm’s wrath with very minimal loss of life or injury, but even one death or serious injury is one to many. And remember serious injuries and death are not limited to the height of a storm. In fact, state and local officials are warning the communities affected, that rising water, flash flooding, storm debris, downed power lines, and wildlife of all sorts are on the move.
Safety and awareness of your surroundings, including avoiding accidents and death trying to restore power with make shift generator connections or trying to connect power from a neighbor’s home can result in fatality and life threatening injury which we have seen in many other storms. If you have a gasoline generator, carbon monoxide can kill you without you knowing what’s happening to you, if not properly vented ideally away from any opening in a home or makeshift structure that would allow this deadly gas access to the interior of a home or business.
In a few days, when deemed safe to return, emergency management officials will likely start allowing residents access back to their homes and businesses. Just as in the many of the disasters Tutwiler & Associates has worked over the years, the reactions of people will be of shock and of course concern as to how this tragedy will be handled by their local community, the Federal Government, through its Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Flood Insurance Program.
Then there is the big unknown about how the private insurance industry will respond. Given the impact the perils of flooding and water (yes, there is a distinction) has impacted the Mid-Atlantic, Hurricane Florence will unfortunately continue to cause misery and anxiety to untold thousands of families and businesses. Water, the most common cause of loss for insurance companies, is typically covered depending on the facts as to how the water entered the home or business. A flood loss is typically not covered unless a property owner purchased a Flood policy or they have an excess/manuscript policy typically sold to commercial or high value homeowners.
For most people unfamiliar with insurance claims, it would seem odd that a water loss would not be covered, since clearly a flood is water and, if I have the water peril coverage in my policy, why would I not be covered from flooding water? Certainly seems logical. The short answer is that private insurance carriers do not cover a flood, to risky. So, the devil is in the details, lots of details. Do you have a flood loss (rising water from outside), or did water get into your home from a breach in the roof or blown out windows before rising water entered your home? Then there is the issue of SURFACE WATER. Is surface water that entered your property covered given that it entered before flood water? Unfortunately, even if you have an ALL RISK policy, one that covers all risks (besides the ones that are excluded), you still may not be covered from a water loss due to ANTI-CONCURRENT CAUSATION CLAUSES in your policy.
Now is not the time to go into the details of this quagmire, and believe me it is a mess depending on which state you live in. I want you to be aware of the need to carefully determine the cause of your loss (wind/water, an actual flooding event, and/or other factors) that may have played a part in the damage and destruction of your property so that you might find coverage.
Finally, PLEASE be aware of quick-buck opportunists who will be coming in from all over the country, making all sorts of promises just to get you to sign a contract. Some will present themselves as experts but may have little to no training or experience. If you get a high pressure sales pitch, that is a red flag. If in fact your loss is covered, any money spent out of your policy or committed to these types of companies is gone. Your insurance company will not pay twice so pay attention to the details, and keep your eye on the money ball.
If folks are representing themselves as “experts” check them out, as you may be surprised at what you will find. On a personal note, we are aware of a “public adjuster,” who claims he is an expert in this field. A quick check of his background reveals he has “adjusted” just four losses. Also, be aware of embellished or inflated resumes. One person who was associated with our firm for a very short time claimed or implied he was Vice President of Sales at Tutwiler & Associates. We do not have, nor did we ever have a Vice President of Sales. But we do appreciate the flattery exhibited in this person’s attempt to piggy back off our excellent reputation. So check out claims from people soliciting your business. They are easy to verify and will likely give you a snap shot of their character before any damage is done. If anyone claims they were an expert public adjuster or sales official with Tutwiler & Associates, call me direct anytime. Cell # 813-293-1624.
Stay safe. The public adjusters at Tutwiler & Associates are already planning on sending a claims team to the impacted areas. If you have questions regarding any property insurance related issue caused by Hurricane Florence please call 800-321-4488 or contact a licensed Florida Public Adjuster to submit a question to one of our insurance claim experts.