What should a homeowner do, after the storm hits South Florida?

As a Palm Beach County Public Adjuster we see all types of home damage from a wide range of hurricane related issues.  When you are faced with property damage from a flood, wind, lightning or heavy rain, calling a public insurance adjuster is your best move.  Read below to learn why.

Once a large storm or hurricane leaves the area, homeowners feel relieved that they survived another one.  The next thing homeowners want to do is the check for storm damage.  This is a time to be cautious. Did you know that 40 percent of injuries happen after the storm or hurricane has passed? When inspecting your home after a hurricane, safety should be your first priority.

The first thing you could check for is the smell of gas.  If you suspect a gas leak, turn off the main gas line and open the window.  Then call the gas company.   If your home suffered any type of structural damage you want to watch for nails or pieces of glass that can cut or injure you.

One of your priorities after a hurricane passes, is to take down your hurricane shutters.  If you have slider hurricane shutters then opening your shutters is relatively easy.  If you have bolt-on shutters, taking them down is a more difficult task.  It’s easy to assume that taking storm shutters down is easier than putting them up.  Not true. When taking down metal hurricane shutters, extreme care must be taken.  Always wear heavy gloves because the sides of the shutters are sharp, one heavy wind can blow a shutter panel in the wrong direction and cause serious injury.  When standing on a ladder, make sure the ladder is on a solid flat surface.  You can read more about ladder safety here:

Ladder Safety

Hurricane shutters are great for keeping flying debris from breaking a window and destroying your home.  However, caution should be taken when putting up and taking down hurricane shutters.

Taking down hurricane shutters is a task most people would rather avoid, however this should be done as soon as possible following a storm.  There are lots of stories in which fires have broken out and due to the hurricane shutters. The fire department then couldn’t get into the house because of the hurricane shutters.  Think I’m kidding, Click Here:   And Here.    And Here for more

Hurricane Shutter could be a fire hazard
Because the hurricane shutters were put up the fire department had to cut their way into this home. In a house fire precious time matters.

It’s important to document any damage as soon and as thoroughly as possible.  You should take pictures and video of any home damage that has occurred.  This also includes anything that could also become a potential problem.  If there is water damage, take pictures of the sitting water. If there is water dripping or any water in motion, video is a good way to document that movement.  In addition, video is a great way to show to an insurance company the flow pattern of any liquid.  Often homeowner call a Palm Beach County Public Adjuster because their insurance company has denied their claim.  Not having pictures or video could be a reason why a claim was denied.

This is the time when homeowners should take a good hard look at their home for damage they may have overlooked.  Often home damage doesn’t appear until many days after the storm is long gone.  A cracked wall or a broken roof may not show signs of storm damage until the homeowner sees the water stain on the ceiling, or smells something musty in a bedroom.  Tracking down the source of the damage could be tricky business.  For most homeowners, a call to the insurance company is the first phone call made.  Often the insurance company will ask the homeowner to call their preferred home damage service provider.  For many homeowners, this arrangement seems to make perfect sense.  This mutual relationship between the service provider and the insurance company works out perfectly for both parties.  The service provider knows that they will receive a steady flow of work, and the insurance company gets to put a cap on the amount the home repairs will cost.  It’s a great working relationship, except for the fact that the homeowner is the odd man out.  We have received many calls from homeowners looking for a Public Adjuster in Palm Beach County because after the service provides left the resident felt that the restoration service was not complete.

After a hurricane or big storm clears out, a trail of home damage is left.  This means that the cost of home repair can rise as a result of building supply shortages.  Also repair people are much busier and for many insurance adjusters the mindset is to get as many homes evaluated as quickly as possible, the result is insurance companies’ preferred service providers are under pressure to get the job done quickly, while being cost effective.  If a home has water damage, the quickest solution is to dry the obvious moisture, have the homeowner sign off on the service call and move onto the next.  This type of “get it done quickly” attitude is not in the homeowners best interest.

In a non-storm related incident, our agent in Indiana recently inspected a home in which a washing machine hose broke.  The water from the broken hose caused flood damage to the home’s first floor.  There are many reasons as to why a washing machine could leak.  For more information on washing machine leaks check out this article.   Why is my washing machine leaking?

In this case of home flood damage, the insurance company sent their preferred water damage restoration provider who placed some fans on the first floor in an attempt to dry the home.  While this removed some moisture, it didn’t provide a complete solution.  Several days after the preferred water damage restoration company finished the homeowner call us because they still had a musty smell in the home.  When we arrived, we found water sitting under the carpet and behind to floor boards.  You can read about this situation here.    Flood turned into mold.

Water turns into mold.  When you have water damage, it’s critical to get the water and moisture removed immediately.  It only take 24-48 hours for moisture to grow into mold.  Once a homeowner is on the path to mold growth, it becomes much more difficult to remediate the mold.  Mold is a live organism that will fight to grow.  This means that getting rid of mold is no easy task.  For more information in mold removal in Palm Beach County read here:   Mold Removal in Palm Beach County

Preferred service vendors are just one of the tricks insurance companies use to save themselves money.  Remember this –  both residential and commercial property owners have the lawful right to hire any company they choose to perform insurance claim contracting services.  Just because your insurance company asks you to use their vendor doesn’t mean you must. To clarify this issue read:   Why do insurance companies have preferred vendors?

One mistake homeowners make after a hurricane is to throw out damaged items such as furniture and appliances.  Keeping these items until after you receive a settlement is in your best interest.  Insurance agents are always looking for signs of a dishonest homeowner.  If you tell your insurance adjuster that your 70-inch brand new flat screen TV went out in the trash, it won’t go over too well.

Another mistake homeowners make is to wait too long to file a claim.  After a hurricane, homeowners are busy getting their lives back in order.  Between the clean up and all the other pressing issues, calling an insurance agent is not something many homeowners want to deal with.  This is a really good reason to hire a Palm Beach County Public Insurance Adjuster.  One call to Todd at Fox Public Insurance adjusters and your South Florida home damage situation will become much easier to handle.  First, as a Public Adjuster in Palm Beach County, Todd will work for you, not the insurance company.  Todd will visit your home, evaluate your home damage and work with your insurance company to make sure you receive a settlement that covers the entire cost of your home repairs.  Because he is not a preferred insurance company service provider, he doesn’t have an insurance company imposed cap on the amount of damage he submits.  In the case of our previous homeowner, the insurance company’s preferred service provider had a cap on the amount of service they could provide.  This is why they didn’t remove the floorboards or carpet.  The homeowners insurance company figured they would save money by skimping on the repair work.  However, once the homeowner called Fox Public Insurance Adjusters we found all the additional water and mold damage.  By the way, if you feel that your insurance company’s service provider didn’t do a complete job, we could still re-open a new claim and follow through until your home is repaired properly.   Given the fact that the objective of most insurance companies is to make money, you should call us first, before the insurance company manipulates you into an unfair insurance settlement.  In addition to working as a Boca Raton Public Adjuster we also service the entire South Florida area.  If you live in West Palm Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Deerfield Beach, Stuart or Port St. Lucie call us for all your hurricane damage help.

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