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After The Freeze: How To Ensure You Get The Full Benefit Of Your Insurance Policy

The Secret To Getting What You Are Owed From An Insurance Company

 

I was recently interviewed by REDnews to help educate commercial property owners know what to do if they’ve incurred damage due to the recent storm. The article is below. If you want to view it in the magazine, you can view it here.

For a state that has weathered its share of storms, Texas was unprepared for the record-setting deep freeze that hit in mid-February and the initially estimated $50 billion in damages.

“According to Enki Research disaster modeler Chuck Watson, the severe weather event could cost as much as $90 billion, making this the largest insurance claim event in history,” said public insurance adjuster Scott Friedson, CEO of Insurance Claim Recovery Support (ICRS).

REDnews connected with Friedson while he was making the trek to Houston, where he was slated to inspect more than 35 different properties that week.

“There is no insurance risk model that accounts for a catastrophic loss to an entire state, especially the state of Texas,” he says.

Hurricanes, Friedson explains, typically cause damage along the coast. Even a hail storm or tornado has limited exposure. The freeze, on the other hand, stretched from the westernmost point of Texas to its easternmost point.

Floor Damage Caused By Texas Winter Weather“Many property owners are juggling pipe repairs, water damage mitigation, satiating tenant demands and dealing with their insurance claims simultaneously,” says Friedson, who exclusively commercial represents and multifamily owners, as well as management companies. “The carriers’ adjusters are coming as quickly as they can as policyholders are grappling with understanding their insurance policy, as well as their contractual obligations in order to ensure a fair and prompt settlement”

Typical insurance policy language requires policyholders to “take all reasonable steps to protect the Covered Property from further damage, and keep a record of your expenses necessary to protect the Covered Property, for consideration in the settlement of the claim.”

Fully understanding and interpreting what “all reasonable steps to protect from further damage” means could leave policyholders in a vulnerable and adversarial position with their insurer, putting their claims in jeopardy, receive the full amount they deserve. It’s why public adjusters, like Friedson, play such a vital role. He is licensed and bonded by the state and, in his role, represents policyholders’ interests, not those of the insurance company.

“When water damage occurs, we advise our clients to immediately put your insurer on notice of a claim,” he says. “We go through the insurance policy and determine if only one deductible applies regardless of the number of locations, professional fee sub-limits and we make ourselves available to meet the carrier’s representative as soon as possible to get the process moving forward.”

Friedson says the primary issue he’s seen is water mitigation due to burst pipes. While property owners are understandably concerned about getting plumbers to fix the broken pipes, he worries they’re ignoring the proper mitigation needed to prevent further damage.

“While they’re focused on repairs to keep tenants happy and retain occupancy in their buildings, they’re not engaging water extraction mitigation companies as quickly as they should,” Friedson says. “That means they run the risk of getting mold, which may not be covered under the insurance policy. Even if it is covered as ensuing damage, typically there are both conditions and limits on how much can get covered.”

According to board-certified policyholder commercial insurance attorney Shannon Loyd, if mold goes over the amount of an insurance policy limit and it grew because of the delay in the investigation, then the overage amount is an independent injury.

“One of the biggest issues we see is policyholders fear their insurer will dispute full payment of the water mitigation bill,” advises Loyd. “Water mitigation contractors understandably have the challenge of defining the full scope and cost until they inspect and moisture map affected areas not visible to the naked eye. So they typically provide time and material costs. Insurers are reluctant to approve vendor-published price lists, leaving policyholders vulnerable and exposed.

She adds that many large commercial policyholders have in-house or third-party contractor resources they trust and don’t want to get burned by an outside water mitigation company.

“We get it, but there is a method to managing risk while also performing your contractual duty in your policy to mitigate, prevent further damage andThis Commercial Building's Floor is Under Water maximize your insurance claim,” says Loyd. “Using untrained and uncertified crews to tear out contaminated materials, can result in an improper dry out, create cross-contamination liability and mold issues for property owners.”

To ensure a water mitigation vendor will defend their work to your insurer, moving any obligation you pay any additional cost, Friedson and Loyd encourage clients to ask their insurer to help provide resources. Try to get upfront approval before engaging a third-party water mitigation contractor or consultant.

  • Look for a water mitigation contractor using professional certified restoration/remediation crews that implement S500 and S520 Restoration industry standards set by the IICRC process
  • Document every part of the process to hedge risk and ensure maximum settlement in minimum

If that all sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. Friedson handles all that when he’s engaged early in the process, though he knows he’ll soon get calls from property owners unsatisfied by how the process is moving along with their carriers. Friedson has considerable experience stepping up when needed at any point in that process. Best of all, there is no fee for his services if there’s no recovery. That, he emphasizes, has never happened.

For more information about public adjuster Scott Friedson or Insurance Claim Recovery Support, visit InsuranceClaimRecoverySupport.com

The original article was written for REDnews by Brandi Smith

This important message is for all Texas commercial and multifamily property owners dealing with water damage claims from last month’s freeze who want the maximum settlement they deserve in minimum time.

As we are going through an unprecedented number of water damage claims, (estimated damages are as high as $90 Billion) I wanted to share with you 2 timely best practices to consider right now!

  1. Hire a local mitigation company to demo and dry out wet materials with IICRC credentials.
  2. Hire ICRS Public Adjusters to get you the fair and prompt settlement you deserve!

Should I hire a 3rd party water damage mitigation company to remove wet areas or do it in-house?

That is the question many commercial owners have been asking themselves. Onsite property management personnel are overloaded with work orders trying to retain tenants while water-damaged units that still may not have been properly mitigated run the risk of mold. Ready or not, your insurance company’s adjusters are coming. What the insurer’s representatives see during your inspections and who represents your interests can make a big difference in your claim settlement.

Water damage caused by frozen pipes destroyed this TX business

As trusted Public Insurance Adjusters representing Commercial and Multifamily property owners throughout Texas, our advice is to have property management personnel resources handle work orders for your business, check vacant units/areas for damages, and make sure air conditioning is on to help dry out moisture. Running the business vs mitigating damage are two separate activities and this is why you have insurance. So, consider engaging a professional water mitigation company to tear out wet materials, mitigate further damage and perform a proper dry out to help prevent mold.

TIP>> How are policyholders dealing with water damage assured that the mitigation vendor will defend their work to the insurer’s and not be obligated to pay anything more than what the insurer will pay? We recommend mitigation vendors and policyholders agree as follows:

  1. Do the remediation in phases with adjuster approvals. The process goes a little slower at times, but really substantiates the services performed and for the rebuild.
  2. Memorialize that the scope of work will be performed pursuant to 3rd party water damage restoration and remediation protocol.
  3. Payment terms are in accordance with Texas insurance code payment statutes.

7 Ways Commercial Building Owners Maximize Insurance ClaimsA reputable water mitigation contractor who uses professional certified restoration/remediation crews that have been trained on the S500 and S520 Restoration industry standards set by the IICRC process should have no issue documenting and supporting any reasonable and necessary scope of work or costs.

For more “pro-policyholder” tips on water mitigation and insurance claims please download our “7 Ways Commercial Building Owners Maximize Insurance Claims”.

Insurance claim driving you insane?

Texas Winter Storm Will Yield largest Claims Event In History

Texas Winter Storm Will Cause $18 Billion In Estimated Damages

With billions of dollars in damage expected from the historic Texas winter storm, a state regulator plans to collect data from property insurers to assess costs stemming from a crippled electrical grid, roofing collapses, broken pipes, and other problems, a spokesman said on Friday, February 19th.

Texas insurers expect “…hundreds of thousands of claims…” said Camille Garcia, Insurance Council of Texas spokeswoman on Thursday.

Bitter cold weather and snow have paralyzed Texas since Sunday, February 14th, shutting down much of the state’s electricity grid and freezing pipes and waterways, leaving communities across the state either without water altogether or forced to boil it for safety.

“We expect this to be a large event, but we just don’t know how large it will be,” said Texas Department of Insurance spokesman Ben Gonzalez, noting that the data inquiry mirrors the regulator’s process after other major storms, such as hurricanes.

The process, set to begin in the coming weeks, comes as one firm that models catastrophe risk estimated at an $18 billion tab for property insurers.

Do you have additional questions on filing a claim? Ready to get started? Reach out to ICRS for more information today!

See the full article by CNBC news here.

Winter Storm Damage and Your Insurance Claim

What To Do After A Winter Storm Hits Your Home

 

Feb 21, 2021 (PRLog via COMTEX) — Policyholders Survival Report for “Largest Insurance Claim Event In History”AUSTIN, Texas – Feb. 20, 2021

PRLog — As Texas thaws from severe winter weather, including snow, ice and freezing temperatures, insurers are facing hundreds of thousands of claims filed for significant property damage to homes and commercial properties. In 2019, the Insurance Information Institute reported $2.1 billion in insured losses caused by winter storms, 2021 will likely exceed $19 billion.

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The good news is that most insurance policies cover damage caused by snow and ice. However, understanding your policy and avoiding disputes between insurance carriers and policyholders concerning what an insurance policy covers and what is excluded can be complex.

“Our advice,” says Insurance Claim Recovery Support CEO, Scott Friedson, “is to review your insurance policy to determine your specific coverage. Some areas of damages often covered by residential or commercial property insurance policies due to snow and freezing ice conditions may include water damage, pipe bursts, business interruption, building or roof collapse, and ice dams.”

Virtually every region of Texas has been hit which could make this storm the most expensive in U.S. history. “The honest truth about insurance claims,” said Public Insurance Adjuster Friedson, with over a decade of experience settling large loss insurance claims, “is that Policyholders bear the burden of proving their claim while insurers have a duty to indemnify the insured in good faith. You can hope or you can plan but either way, if you have a claim, your insurance company’s representatives will adjust your claim, ‘their way'”.

Engaging a trustworthy Public Insurance Adjuster at the beginning of the claim process can make a big difference. Click here for more information on what you need to know about coverage and exclusions on your Winter Storm Damage Insurance claims.

Read the full article here.

Don’t get caught in the cold! Read our tips for thawing frozen pipes, and prevent damage to your home.

 

The first step you need to take is to shut off your water at the main shutoff valve, usually located at your water meter somewhere near the street, and open (turn on) all of your faucets (inside and outside). This step is very important because what causes burst pipes is the build-up of pressure in the lines; opening the faucets will help release that pressure once the pipes thaw.

1. How do I know if my pipes are frozen?

First, temperatures outside typically need to be below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for pipes to have the potential of freezing.

The first indicator of frozen pipes is that you have lost your water supply or it is flowing slower than usual, but your neighbors still have water. If your neighbors are also out of water, it could be that your water provider has cut water to the neighborhood; contact your provider for updates.

Try turning on all of your faucets. If some of them have flowing water while others don’t, you have a localized issue that is not impacting your entire plumbing system. If some water is coming out, although slowly, leave it running; sometimes this is enough to melt the ice in the line. If there is no water, try to trace the plumbing line from that faucet back to where your water line comes into your home to determine where the blockage is located. It will most likely be in an uninsulated area.

If all of your faucets don’t have water when you turn them on, your main service line out in your yard (carries water from your water meter at the street to your foundation) could be frozen. This will only occur in extremely cold situations, typically below 20 degrees Fahrenheit with or without wind chill.

2. What should I do if my pipes are frozen? How important is thawing frozen pipes? The first step you need to take is to shut off your water at the main shutoff valve, usually located at your water meter somewhere near the street, and open (turn on) all of your faucets (inside and outside). This step is very important because what causes burst pipes is the build-up of pressure in the lines; opening the faucets will help release that pressure once the pipes thaw.

3. How do I start thawing frozen pipes? We repeat: keep your faucets open and your water turned off while pipes thaw! Keeping the faucets open will also expedite the thawing process and allow the thawing ice to run through the pipes.

While it is important to try to thaw a frozen pipe as quickly as possible to avoid further damage, doing so yourself does come with risks. If possible, locate the section of pipe that is frozen and thaw it yourself using gentle heat (slowly warm it up). If you heat the pipes up too quickly, they can crack or melt due to the quick change in temperature! Try wrapping an electronic heating pad around the pipe, heating the area with a hairdryer, or both. Towels soaked in hot water will help as well. Apply until water runs normally.

If possible, locate the section of pipe that is frozen and thaw it yourself using gentle heat (slowly warm it up). If you heat the pipes up too quickly, they can crack or melt due to the quick change in temperature!
If you cannot locate the location of the blockage, increasing your home’s temperature may help (above 55 degrees Fahrenheit). Open all cabinet and closet doors to increase the temperature in these enclosed spaces. If you suspect that there are pipes in or above the garage, use space heaters to heat up that space as well. Make sure to keep heaters away from anything potentially flammable!

Your pipes will eventually begin to thaw on their own once the temperatures rise above freezing. As they do so, you may begin to hear your pipes making gurgling, clanging, or banging sounds as the ice begins to move. The hot water heater may do the same.

Slowly turn the water back on at the main shutoff valve and inspect for leaks. If there are leaks, be prepared to turn the water off again immediately. If frozen pipes have cracked, homeowners may need to seek a plumber as soon as possible.

4. Can my irrigation system freeze too? What about my pool lines? Yes and yes. It is best to winterize these systems in advance, but at minimum, turn off the system at the main controller. It’s also beneficial to shut off the system at your backflow device. If you have an above-ground backflow device then be prepared for it to be busted. Make sure you know where to turn it off at.

5. Can my sewer lines freeze too? This is very rare since typically only pressurized lines freeze, but it is possible. If there are foul odors escaping from your drains, it could indicate ice is blocking the drain. Follow the above recommendations for thawing frozen pipes.

6. Will my insurance cover the damage? Until you are able to contact your property insurance agent for details, document everything, from the time you notice the problem and every step you take to repair it. According to The Balance Small Business, if you have the proper insurance, they should help cover some of these costs, but not all policies cover damage from frozen pipes. Some policies have specific requirements you must follow in order to be covered, such as maintaining the heat at a certain temperature in your home or shutting off the water supply during absence from your home to prevent a potential flooding issue. An insurance company wants to see that you took reasonable measures to prevent a problem from occurring. Our insurance adjusters can help you with this process.

7. How do I prevent my pipes from freezing in the future? Unfortunately, infrastructure in southern states is not built for extreme cold, so rarely are your plumbing lines insulated well enough to handle below-freezing temperatures for extended periods of time.

Should you file a claim? It depends on your deductible, extent of damage, and coverage for these types of winter weather losses which can vary depending on your specific insurance policy. If your property is damaged, be sure to reasonably protect and mitigate against further damage, contact your insurance agent right away and tell them you have a loss. Keep financial records of expenses you incur, take photos and be safe! For help with your insurance claim, click here>> https://www.insuranceclaimrecoverysupport.com/free-claim-evaluation/.