On Property Insurance Claim Tips Blog

The Big Freeze Broken Pipes and Snow… the Way It Was

While looking for some information in my office library yesterday, I pulled a book from a shelf titled The Policyholder Advisor authored by Eugene R. Anderson, William G. Passannante, and Robert M. Horkovich. These three gentlemen, all attorneys, and at the time of publishing in 2002, shareholders at Anderson Kill & Olick P.C. now Anderson Kill P.C. one of the nation’s leading law firms for policyholders. The book jacket noted that the book is a collection of articles published in the firm’s newsletter, “The Policyholder Advisor.”

It was a little uncanny when I opened the book, and it opened to page 181 and the chapter title was “Insurance Coverage Available for Property Losses from The Blizzard of 96.” While no two storms are ever the same, there sure are a lot of similarities between the 1996 blizzard and the current polar vortex malaise of 2014; especially when it comes to insurance coverage issues and disputes with insurance carriers.

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Frozen Pipes, the Resulting Water Damage, and Now Snow--Is It Time to Call in the Cavalry?

Frozen Pipes, the Resulting Water Damage, and Now Snow--Is It Time to Call in the Cavalry?
With another polar blast and big snowstorm adding to the misery in the already frozen Northeastern U.S., I was wondering how the property insurance industry is holding up given the onslaught of property claims being filed. Well, that question was answered when we received an auto-reply from an adjuster in New York who works for one of the big insurance companies who we are working with on a claim following Super Storm Sandy. His reply, “please be advised that we are currently experiencing higher than normal volume due to recent weather related events and there may be a delay in returning your email.” Returning timely emails is one thing, but adjusting a loss is a whole other animal given the working conditions in the frozen north; especially when it comes to frozen pipes.Read More

Policyholder Question: What’s Covered in a Pipe Leak Water Damage Claim?

Q. I have filed a claim for water damage to my living room. The adjuster provided details of coverage prior to mitigation, for $1, 762.68 including my $1,000 deductible; for which I paid. The mitigation folks provided another estimate of an additional $6,000 to my insurance adjuster. This was their estimate once they opened up the wall where the water was causing damage. Two major findings, once they opened up the wall: 1) they discovered a pipe leak 2) two beams are termite infested! Neither are covered under my insurance (Nationwide)! The company that came in to do the recovery completed the cleaning, disinfecting, and drying out process. However, they informed me that they would not replace the wood beams that are damaged by termites. I paid for the restoration of the pipe out-of-pocket but cannot afford to pay anymore additional repairs. I explained this to them; to which they replied, "you can cash out and get another estimate." I told them that I needed to get further guidance. They said they would get back to me and left. I have not heard from them, and now I have one wall and part of the floor in my living room exposed. What are my options?Read More

Broken Water Pipes from the Big Freeze “Polar Vortex” What a National Mess!

Broken Water Pipes from the Big Freeze “Polar Vortex” What a National Mess!

Yesterday, I was on a flight to sunny South Florida to meet with a client, and ran into a large loss adjuster who works for one of the major insurance carriers heading the same way. When you meet a fellow adjuster or colleagues who are in the business, usually the first question is to ask if you are busy. This seasoned adjuster side tells me the claims are rolling in from the areas that were affected in the big freeze caused by the “polar vortex” last week. It seems his company is so overwhelmed, that they have staffed call centers with independent adjusters just to handle the call volume.

 

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Where’s the due diligence from financial institutions when it comes to property losses on residential and rental investments?

Throughout my career, I have always been amazed about the fact that financial institutions like mortgage companies, banks and credit unions, all who have a stakeholder’s interest in a property, (either through a mortgage or some type of financial interest or obligation) never seem to question a claim payment made by an insurance company following a loss. I realize they are in a unique position, either as an additional insured, lien holder, mortgage holder, bankruptcy receiver, etc., and their client, the insured, is supposed to be on the frontline looking out for their own financial wellbeing.  But it’s their security interest or in some cases a fiduciary responsibility that is at stake. So you would think they would have more than just a passive interest to confirm that a settlement on a property loss is correct and payment is in accordance with the policy and the facts of the loss. Read More

Policyholder Question: How long does an umpire have to make a decision?

First a little background, an umpire in the insurance property world has nothing to do with baseball except that a baseball umpire and an umpire in a property insurance dispute have one thing in common--both have to make a decision. The baseball umpire will have to make a decision quickly, where as an umpire in the appraisal dispute resolution forum should take as much time as needed to make a decision based on all the facts. A good umpire will thoroughly review of all the materials provided to him or her by the two appraisers (representing each side of the dispute) who agreed to his or her appointment. This can and often should include a visit to the loss site (if the property in question is still standing) along with the two appraisers and the policyholder if they want to understand the opinions as to why the initial adjustment was wrong.

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Our 2014 Public Adjuster Wish List for the Property Insurance Market

It’s been an eventful year for public adjusters and the insurance claims industry. So I want to share my 2014 News Year’s Wish List for the property insurance industry.

  1. I wish Congress would fix the Biggert-Waters 2012 National Flood Insurance Reform Act. This extremely ill-conceived act of Congress is causing great harm to homeowners all across this country. Remember, an affordability study was supposed to have been commissioned with this legislation but is now two years away according to some accounts in the media. Meanwhile, policyholders who have been in their homes for years (and I am not just talking about high priced homeowners) are hurting because of premium increases and no buyers for their property. Shame on Congress for this!
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Policyholder Question about Mold in Apartment due to Air Conditioning

Q. My tenant reported mold in a house that is 6 years old. We had a company test and they said the mold was caused by the a/c, due to a low refrigerant level, which caused high humidity levels in the house. At first, the insurance company said we were covered. But when the tenants request reimbursement for a medical x-ray, which showed a spot on the lung, the insurance said we were not covered. They said it was not a covered peril. They said that the a/c caused the 70% humidity which caused the mold. The remediation estimates are in excess of $30k and it appears there will be a medical claim. There were 69 days involved from the time the tenants first noticed the mold until they vacated the house. Also, the tenants’ personal items are supposed to be discarded. Am I responsible for that? The lease required them to have renters insurance but this is the second year of the lease and they did not renew it after the first year. Also, I have seen web ads for a mold bomb fogger that is supposed to be approved by the EPA. It is from Biocide Labs. Has anyone ever used it?

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Policyholder Question: Water Damage Claim and the Restoration Company’s Cleanup Bill, Who Pays & How Do You Get It Paid?

Q. I had water damage in my house due to an over flowing toilet. My insurance company said it would pay $8,000 to the restoration company that did the clean-up. The problem is that the restoration company who did the water extraction sent me a bill for $36,000. The insurance company sent me a check for $8,050.  Should I mediate or go the appraisal route?Read More

The Flood Insurance Reform Debacle, Biggert- Waters 2012 is the Talk of the Town

Last evening we attended the annual neighborhood holiday party which normally is a time of good cheer and an opportunity to visit with our neighbors to catch-up on their families and community news. This year was a little different. The one conversation everyone was having was the unconceivable flood premiums hitting folk’s mailboxes as a result of the Biggert-Waters 2012 Flood Reform Act.  Our street is basically an island with water on all four sides. So everyone is affected as are many other communities across Florida including many non-water front homes in flood zones.  Yep, flood insurance and what the federal government has done to all the folks across the nation that are required to have flood insurance is one hot topic.

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