Due to the widespread damage from hurricanes and windstorms, interpretation of coverage becomes a major issue for policyholders seeking to recover all the monies due under their insurance contract. When these events occur, it opens the door to many complicated ambiguities with insurance during the adjustment process. We help answer some of the questions that arise during hurricane claims.
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1: How can a licensed public adjuster help me following a hurricane claim?
Following any disaster, the available services provided by insurance companies are limited. Also, it is very typical for insurance companies to rotate adjusters in and out of the disaster zone, meaning you are subject to re-educating adjusters from the insurance company over and over again. We know and understand the process and our practices and documentation facilitate a seamless post disaster loss adjustment process. Public adjusters at Greenspan Co./Adjusters International take over the burden of moving the claim through the insurance company and its many adjusters so you can focus on getting your business back in operation and/or your property restored.
Make sure that the public adjuster that you hire has the depth of resources to handle your claim, along with the commitment to be present in Puerto Rico until your claim is settled. How long have they been in business? Have they done work in Puerto Rico before? Make sure that you are comfortable that they will only “fill their basket” with as many claims as they can comfortably handle? Are they members of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA)?
It depends on what you purchased. Generally speaking, a business owner’s policy that insures for hurricane will cover your physical assets including your building, improvements, fixtures, equipment, and stock; and your loss of revenue generally defined as your net profit or loss plus your continuing expenses. How those coverages are afforded, i.e. replacement cost, actual cash value and how large your deductible might be, are strictly dependent on your policy.
5: Access roads to my commercial building have been shut down. Am I covered for this loss of income?
Many insurance policies cover for loss of business due to civil authority. Some policies cover for interference with ingress and egress to your property. Check your policy carefully for the duration of the coverage as well as how long business needs to be suspended before coverage is afforded.
Not likely, unless your insurance policy is endorsed for what is known as dependent properties coverage (also known as Contingent Business Interruption). Such coverage usually requires that you name the specific supplier. Also, it might make a difference why that supplier cannot supply you. Did that supplier sustain physical damage? Or is that supplier, too, impacted by someone else’s inability to supply them? Read your policy carefully. Check with your broker. Check with a qualified public adjuster.
That is dependent upon whether you have what is commonly known as an extended period of indemnity. An extended period of indemnity insures you for your lost revenue following your opening. It is typically written to cover the ”ramp-up” period it takes for you to realize your pre-loss sales. It is typically written for 30, 60, 90, 120, or 180 days. Check your policy.
When hurricanes make landfall and wind causes the initial structural damage to a property, such as blowing off the roof or knocking out windows, the cause of loss is classified as windstorm. Windstorm damage often opens the door for massive amounts of water and debris to cause further damage to a structure. Unlike other causes of loss, such as pipe breaks or fires, which have a preset, fixed deductible, the deductible for a windstorm loss usually amounts to a percentage of the overall policy limit. Even though these percentages may seem small — either 2, 3 or 5 percent — these percentage deductibles can add up quickly and put a serious strain on your financial recovery. One way to mitigate such issues is for property owners to purchase a buy-back deductible. This is supplemental coverage that allows policyholders to forfeit paying a deductible by opting to pay an additional premium.
Any time water enters a building there is a potential for mold, whether it comes from a windstorm or from a simple pipe break. Regardless of your insurance coverage, the first step to containing a mold problem is to completely remove all wet carpet, drywall, and contents, and dry out the site immediately after exposure. This will reduce the potential for serious mold development — which has been proven to be capable of producing toxic effects in humans and animals — and mitigate further damages. In recent years insurance carriers have expended extraordinary amounts of monies as a result of mold claims, and a majority of insurance policies have been rewritten to either include a mold exclusion or to cap the insurance available for mold remediation. At times, this cap is far below the true costs to remediate mold, so eliminating the potential for mold will help protect against an unexpected out-of-pocket expense.
Over the years changes in your local building codes and ordinances have been enacted to reflect new standards for construction. If your older property suffers a substantial loss, fixing it may require higher construction standards. Simply replacing your property as it was may not be enough to meet these new laws and codes. Building ordinance or codes coverage, which pays to rebuild a structure to comply with current building codes, can be added to your policy. As building codes evolve each year, it is strongly recommended that you understand the exposure you could face if a major windstorm, or any type of loss — damaged your home or building, and what codes would be triggered upon reconstruction.
Debris removal is an expense often incurred in the aftermath of a windstorm. In the event of an extensive loss, some policy language for debris removal allows for an additional 5, 10 or 25 percent of debris removal coverage above the policy limit. Your policy language may clearly outline the additional coverage, or the wording may be ambiguous, causing a potential disagreement with the carrier over your payment. To avoid this problem, be certain of your coverage before you need it.