If your property has been damaged due to a man-made or natural disaster good chances are one of your first calls will...READ MORE
With many of us spending more time at home than ever due to the coronavirus pandemic it is a good time to make sure...READ MORE
If your property has been damaged due to a man-made or natural disaster good chances are one of your first calls will be to your insurance agent.
From 2014-2018, 5.6 percent of insured homes had a claim, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Wind and hail accounted for the largest share of claims (2.3 percent), followed closely by water damage and freezing (2.1 percent). Fire and lighting and theft account for the other 1.2%.
When navigating an insurance claim, it’s important to fully understand all insurance terms. Here are three terms that many homeowners are unfamiliar with but are important to know.1. Actual Cash Value (ACV) – An estimate of the fair market value of your property (i.e. home, roof, furniture in your home) prior to damage. ACV is what it would cost to replace your property minus depreciation, which is how much value the property has lost due to age and wear and tear since you bought it.
In the event you are faced with property damage knowing the terminology will go a long way in helping you maximize your insurance claim.
Many commercial property owners equate new building codes with lost time and money. When in truth, most code changes save owners money in the long run - not to mention better protection for the people and property inside from fire, earthquakes and other extreme events.
Modern codes date back to 1897 when fires destroyed many cities overnight. Sanitation issues were also the driving force behind some early codes. Today, natural disasters and concerns about energy security and conservation of natural resources are the impetus behind most code changes.
Extreme weather and fires over the past five years have caused approximately $500 billion in damages in the U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
A study done for the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) found that losses from Hurricane Andrew, which caused $25 billion in insured damage, would have been reduced by 40 percent for commercial properties if they were built in accordance with Florida’s 2004 statewide building code. Another IBHS study following Hurricane Charley found that conformance to current building codes reduced the severity of losses by 42 percent and loss frequency by 60 percent.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) ongoing Building Codes Save (BCS) initiative shows that for California and Florida alone their adoption and enforcement of modern hazard-resistant building codes over the past 20 years indicates a long-term average future savings of $1 billion per year.
If you are considering a renovation, remodel or building from the ground up, make sure you are following the latest codes and standards available. While implementing them now may be a costly endeavor, it will most likely save you money in the long run – and, more importantly, protect the health and safety of your property’s occupants.
With many of us spending more time at home than ever due to the coronavirus pandemic it is a good time to make sure your home is free of environmental hazards that can cause health issues. Radon, asbestos and lead are three highly toxic materials that could be present in your home, potentially putting your family’s health at risk.
Radon – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon – an odorless, invisible gas – causes thousands of cancer deaths each year in the U.S. It is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and permeates the air we breathe. Radon moves up through the ground to the air above and into homes through cracks and other holes in the foundation. The EPA recommends checking radon levels in your home at least every two years as radon levels fluctuate. DIY radon testing kits are widely available, or you can hire a professional to conduct the test. If you do your own test and it shows high levels of radon – anything above 4 pCi/L – schedule a walk-through with an EPA-licensed radon remediation specialist. The EPA has put together a comprehensive library of radon resources. To view, click here.
Asbestos – If your home was built before the 1980s there could be asbestos hiding in cement, floor tiles, insulation, pipes and walls. Asbestos is a natural mineral composed of thin fibers. When residential construction products made with asbestos are damaged those fibers become airborne, posing a potential danger to anyone who inhales the toxic dust. While exposure to small amounts of asbestos is unlikely to cause health problems prolonged exposure increases risks of lung disease and cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that most asbestos-related diseases are diagnosed at least 15 years after exposure. If you own an older home, you should take every precaution to avoid damaging materials that may contain asbestos. To learn more about asbestos and steps to take if found in your home review the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s resource guide.
Lead – If your home was built before 1978 it’s likely it contains lead-based paint. Lead is a poisonous, highly toxic metal that can cause serious medical issues, and in some instances can be fatal. In 1978, the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-containing paint but lead paint is still present in millions of homes, oftentimes under layers of newer paint. Before buying, selling or renting a home built before 1978 or doing any remodeling have it checked out by a EPA or state-approved Lead-Safe certified firm if you are unsure whether lead-based paint is present. For more information on protecting your family from lead poisoning read the EPA’s Protect Your Family Form Lead in Your Home guide.
By proactively identifying and addressing environmental toxins like radon, asbestos and lead in your home you can help safeguard your family’s health, protecting them from potentially life-threatening illnesses.
$1.790 trillion. That’s what the damage the 273 weather and climate disasters the United States has experienced since 1980 have cost property owners and insurance carriers. Already this year there have been 10 weather/climate disaster events resulting in over $1 billion in losses. If your association does not routinely review insurance coverage or have disaster preparedness and response plans in place, or it’s been awhile since they’ve been updated, now is the time to make sure your association is ready in the event of a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or other major natural disaster. Here are three tips to help you prepare.
3. Create a post-disaster plan – Recovery can be a stressful, costly and time-consuming endeavor. Having a post-disaster contact list including board members, management, insurance agents, insurance adjusters, attorney, engineers and contractors will go a long way in getting your association and its members on the road to recovery. It’s also important to start a regular cadence of communications with owners to keep them updated on recovery efforts. Too little communication or incomplete communications can lead to disputes with owners.
No one can predict if and when a natural disaster will occur and what kind of damage it will result in but associations who take the time to prepare by regularly reviewing insurance coverage and creating and keeping updated pre- and post-disaster plans will be able to better safeguard their association and its members from financial devastation.
Being a homeowner come with a long to-do list. Paying property taxes. Checking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Fixing leaks and broken doors. The list goes on and on but one thing many people forget to not only add to the list but follow through with it is an annual homeowner insurance review. Forgetting or failing to do this yearly could cost you in the long run.
More than half of homeowners (52%) don’t have a clear understanding of their coverage according a recent J.D. Power survey. There is also the common misconception among policyholders that the amount of dwelling coverage is correlated to their home’s real estate market value when in reality it’s tied to the cost to rebuild the home. And a recent Marshall & Swift/Boeckh survey found that 60% of homes are undervalued when it comes to insurance with an average undervaluation of 17%.
Here are three reasons why you should review your policy every year with your insurance broker or attorney.
1. Prices Rise and Fall – Just like most goods and services, construction costs rise and fall. Let’s say you had your home insured for $250,000 when you bought it 10 years ago. And then let’s say a fire destroyed it this year (no casualties of course). You receive a check from your insurance company for $250,000. You’re eager to start the rebuild process but after getting multiple construction bids you find out it’s going to be $350,000 to rebuild. That $100,000 gap in coverage could force you to have to scale back on the rebuild.
2. Change Happens – You installed hand scrapped hardwoods. You swapped out the linoleum in the kitchen with granite. You gutted the master bathroom. You overhauled the guest room. Any major home renovation or upgrade will most likely affect the value of your family’s home. Home improvements can also qualify you for additional discounts on your insurance policy. For example, installing a home security system could reduce your insurance premium by 2 – 10 percent.
3. Valuables Are Often Overlooked. Your spouse bought a new set of golf clubs or new skis for the whole family. You inherited a family heirloom. Your parents surprised you with an expensive work of art for your birthday. You bought a piano so your son can be the next Mozart. Your existing policy provides standard coverage for your home and belongings but oftentimes doesn’t provide sufficient coverage for all your valuables. It’s important to contact your insurance agent each time you bring in something valuable to your home to make sure your current coverage is sufficient or an increase in your premium is necessary to protect you in case of loss or damage.
For the majority of people their home is their biggest investment. Conducting an annual insurance review is critical to protecting your most valuable asset.
Whether you own or manage an office building, retail store, restaurant, hotel, shopping center, warehouse or other commercial property, routine maintenance is critical to protecting your investment. Having the following inspected by licensed professionals on a pre-established schedule will ensure everything is working properly and will go a long way in protecting you from an unexpected financial hit.
1. Roof – Many commercial owners forget the roof of their building, just like a home, has a warranty – typically 10, 15 or 20 years – as long as you have it inspected annually. In addition to an annual inspection if you believe your roof has been damaged by hail, wind or rain you should have it inspected immediately.
2. Electric – To safeguard against costly electric issues schedule an annual review with a reputable electrician. Heat, humidity, dust, dirt and smoke can all harm your system. If you have an older system do some research about upgrading – newer systems are much more efficient and could save you money in the long run.
3. HVAC – Rooftop units should be checked once a quarter. That may seem like a lot but if you don’t properly maintain your HVAC a new one could cost you as much as $10,000. And that cost doesn’t include the cost of renting a crane to remove the broken unit and installation of new one. If your commercial property is located in an area not accessible by crane, you will need to rent a helicopter to move the equipment which is a very costly endeavor.
4. Plumbing – Like your roof and electric system, an annual plumbing inspection is recommended to help you avoid costly water damage. Water heater leaks. Faulty supply lines. Clogged sewage lines. All can cause major issues if not addressed immediately. In addition to an annual inspection address issues as they occur – even a small leak can cause major damage.
5. Natural Gas/Propane Tank – Annual inspections are a must to avoid a potentially devastating accident. A licensed professional will go through a detailed checklist including conducting an odor test, ensuring valves are working properly and inspecting for any leaks or defects.
6. Kitchen – If your property contains a kitchen it will be inspected by your local health department once a year so ensuring everything is up to code is critical to avoiding fines and the potential loss of income due to a forced shutdown to make repairs. Fix broken appliances and issues immediately and have your kitchen inspected annually to ensure there are no hidden problems.
Routine maintenance is a small investment to make to protect your property. If you lease out all or part of your property having a preventive maintenance plan in place can go a long way in helping you secure new tenants and help in rental negotiations.