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Tips for Handling a Home Insurance Claim

4/20/2018 (Permalink)

Consider if the damage is worth filing a claim

Your first step should be to wonder, “Do I really need to file a claim for this?” Small home problems are known as “incidentals” by many insurers. These have the same deductible and potential to raise your premiums as a whole home replacement. Making frivolous claims or requesting claims that can't be honored trigger expenses that make claims cost more than they save.

Be familiar with your insurance policy.

Review your policy every year or every time you switch carriers. Look on the “declarations” page to find out the types of incidents that are covered. This page also has the maximum value you can get from a claim. Before filing a claim, take the time to look at your policy and see if your problem is covered.

Know a Licensed and Insured, Reliable Contactor

You'll want only the most reliable contractor to perform repairs on your home after it's damaged. Try to seek one out before anything happens to your house. This will ensure that you get the best work possible when the time comes. You have the right to choose who works in your home. You do not have to use anyone you do not want to.

Use your preferred contractor for a repair estimate

A dependable contractor will be able to make an accurate estimate, then perform the work correctly both on-schedule and on-budget.

Take photos of the Damages

 Your first step after calling your insurer and your contractor should be to begin documenting the damage as-is. Take clear, well-lit photos from as many angles as possible. 

Get in Touch with Your Mortgage Lender

Your mortgage lender will likely be part of the settlement process if you don't own your home in full yet. Ask your lender how they handle insurance claims, many have specific packets they will want filled out to endorse insurance checks. Get that paperwork filled out at soon as possible to speed up the process with the mortgage company.

Be Present During the Adjuster Inspection

After getting a contractor's estimate, be ready to give the adjuster in writing your personal assessment of the damage. You'll help make sure that they do not miss crucial details or underestimate the extent of the necessary repairs.

Leave a Paper Trail

The key to making claims as painless as possible is airtight documentation.

  • Make note of relevant phone conversations, or better yet use email to communicate since it's verifiable by both parties
  • Save all receipts for expenses
  • Never pay in cash, especially for your contract work
  • If your policy covers living expenses, save receipts for associated costs while waiting for repairs like hotel rooms, babysitting, etc.
  • Document value of existing assets prior to the damage. For example, save your HDTV purchase receipt and your invoice from a flooring replacement
  • Obtain a copy of the police report, if applicable

Mold Prevention Tips

3/17/2018 (Permalink)

Mold Prevention Tips

  • When water leaks or intrusions occur, act quickly! Wet or damp material that is dried within 24 – 48 hours of the leak, in most cases, will NOT grow mold.
  • Remove wet carpet or furniture that cannot be dried within 24 – 48 hours.
  • Do not install carpet in areas of water usage such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements.
  • Remove wet clothes from the washer promptly.
  • Do not leave damp clothes or towels lying around.
  • Keep indoor humidity levels below 60%. The ideal level is between 30 – 50%. Relative humidity can be measured by a moisture or humidity meter, a small and inexpensive instrument available at most hardware stores.
  • If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes, act fast to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture or water source.
  • Use air conditioners or dehumidifiers to keep humidity low.
  • Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines free of obstructions.
  • Be sure dryers, stoves, heaters and exhaust fans vent to the outside, not into the walls or attic.
  • Use a bathroom exhaust fan or open the window when you shower.
  • Dry shower walls after a shower.
  • When cooking or using the dishwasher, use an exhaust fan or open the window.
  • Keep furniture from blocking air returns and vents.
  • Dust and vacuum often.
  • Remove mold growing in the soil of houseplants.
  • Clean and repair gutters regularly.
  • Repair any roof leaks as soon as you discover them.
  • Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation so that water does not enter or pool around the foundation.
  • Insulate cold surfaces such as cold water pipes to prevent condensation.
  • Repair any plumbing leaks as soon as you find them.
  • Use mold-resistant building materials when available.
  • Install a vapor barrier in the crawlspace to prevent moisture from the ground.
  • Keep the crawlspace and basement well ventilated.
  • Ensure that the attic is properly ventilated and properly insulated.

If You See Signs of Mold, Call Us Today – (803) 955-0342

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold?

3/17/2018 (Permalink)

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold?

Homeowners insurance does not usually cover mold damages. Although, there are instances when mold is covered. These instances are generally when the cause of mold is due to an incident that homeowners insurance does cover. For example, if mold has grown due to accidental and sudden pipe burst or if a recent fire has caused mold, your homeowners insurance will likely cover the mold damages. On the contrary, if mold has grown due to improper maintenance practices, such as on-going humidity exposure or a continuous leak, homeowners insurance will not likely cover the damages.

If you believe you may have a mold issue give us  a call today to have one of our experienced technicians come out and access your concerns!! 803-955-0342

Understanding Mold

3/17/2018 (Permalink)

Understanding Mold

When water intrudes into your property, mold growth can start in as little as 48 hours. Consider the following mold facts:

  • Mold is present almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.
  • Mold spores are microscopic, float along in the air, and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.
  • Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants and have the potential to cause other health effects. 
  • Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise, the mold may return.
  • Mold often produces a strong, musty odor, and that odor can lead you to possible mold problem areas.
  • Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.

Fire Damage Emergency Tips

3/17/2018 (Permalink)

After any fire damage situation, your primary focus should be safety:

  • Is it safe to stay in the house?
  • Electrical and "slip and fall" hazards are some of the most prevalent concerns.
  • Only do activities that are safe for you to perform.
  • Wet materials can be VERY heavy. Be careful!

Have A Fire or Smoke Damage Emergency? 
Call 803-955-0342

What To Do After A Fire

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets.
  • Keep hands clean so as not to further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
  • Place clean towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas.
  • If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator and prop doors open.
  • Clean and protect chrome with light coating of petroleum jelly or oil.
  • Wash houseplants on both sides of leaves.
  • Change HVAC filter.
  • Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers.

What NOT To Do After A Fire

  • Don't attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces or shampoo carpet or upholstery without contacting your SERVPRO Franchise Professional.
  • Don't attempt to clean any electrical appliances that may have been close to fire, heat or water without consulting an authorized repair service.
  • Don't use any canned or packaged food or beverages that may have been stored near the fire, heat or water.
  • Don't turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. The wiring may be damaged.
  • Don't send garments to an ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set smoke odor.

Tornado Safety Tips

3/17/2018 (Permalink)

Tornado Safety Tips:

1. Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or a pre-designated shelter. Go to the lowest level of the building, preferably in a basement, and get under a heavy desk or workbench or sit next to the wall and cover your head with your arms/hands. Best bet – have a safe room in the basement.

2. If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room/hallway – put as many wall between you and the outside of the building, and stay away from windows. Other possibilities: get into a bathtub or under a bed or sofa.

3. Get out of vehicles – they can easily be tossed around – do not try to outrun a tornado.

4. If caught outside – lie flat on the ground and cover your head with your hands. Remember, in tornado situations debris likes to settle in roadside ditches or other low spots. If heavy rains are falling in the area, ditches and low spots may quickly flood. Therefore, laying down in a ditch may not be your best choice.

5. Be aware of flying debris – most deaths and injuries are caused by flying debris.

6. Manufactured homes (mobile trailers) offer little protection, even if tied down. Leave these for a sturdy shelter before the storm approaches.

7. Do not seek shelter under a highway overpass. Wind blow stronger under the overpass due to the wind-tunnel effect. Additionally, flying debris (glass, wood, metal) can pummel you, and the tornado winds may suck you out from under the overpass anyway.

8. Don’t waste time opening windows and doors to equalize air pressure differences – this is a waste of time and buildings have enough air leakage to equalize air pressure differences anyway. Buildings are more likely to explode after the wind gets inside.

9. The southwest side of the basement isn’t necessarily the safest place to be – vehicles can be pushed into basements – you can still be crushed no matter where you are in the basement. Even the bricks/stones of a fireplace can crash into the basement and crush you!

10. Remember – the tornado can occur before there is a visible funnel cloud. A tornado is nothing more than a violently rotating column of air extending from the ground to the cloud base. You may not be able to see the tornado (can’t see the rotating air) until enough debris and dirt get swept into the vortex, and/or the visible funnel cloud develops all the way to the ground.

11. No place is totally safe from tornadoes (except for a safe room) – if weather conditions come together properly, the tornado will go over or through mountains, lakes, rivers, swamps, marshes, bogs, and through downtown areas that have 1000 foot skyscrapers!

Lightning Safety Tips

3/17/2018 (Permalink)

Lightning Safety Tips:

1. Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent. Lightning can travel 5-10 miles away from the thunderstorm and strike the ground with blue sky overhead. The storm doesn’t have to be overhead in order for you to be struck.

2. Move to a sturdy shelter or vehicle. Do not take shelter in a small shed, under isolated trees, or in a convertible-top vehicle. Stay away from tall objects such as trees or towers or poles.

3. If in your vehicle when lightning strikes – don’t touch a metal surface. You are safer in a vehicle than being outdoors.

4. Remember that utility lines or pipes can carry the electrical current underground or through a building. Avoid electrical appliances, and use telephones or computers only in an emergency.

5. If you feel your hair standing on end – get down into a baseball catcher’s position and plug your ears with your finger tips so if lightning does hit it will not blow your ear drums out. Do not lie flat!

6. 30/30 rule – if the time between lighting and thunder is 30 seconds or less, go to a safe shelter. Stay there until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder

Do's and Don't of a Water Damage

3/17/2018 (Permalink)

THE DO’S OF WATER DAMAGE

  • Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting
  • Wipe excess water damage from wood furniture after removal of lamps and table top items.
  • Remove and prop wet upholstery and pillow cushions for even drying
  • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting
  • Turn air conditioning on for maximum drying (in summer)
  • Remove Oriental rugs or other colored rugs from wet wall-to-wall carpeting
  • Remove valuable paintings and art objects to a safe, dry place
  • Open and place luggage, in sunlight to dry, if possible
  • Gather loose items, toys, etc. from floors

THE DON’TS OF WATER DAMAGE

  • Leave wet fabrics in place; dry as soon as possible. Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature
  • Leave books, magazines or other colored items on wet carpets or floors
  • Use a standard vacuum to remove water
  • Use TVs or other major appliances while standing on wet carpets or floors, especially not on wet concrete floors
  • Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet, and keep out of rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water

We sincerely hope these experiences never happen to you but if they do we are standing by to help, 24 hours a day/7 days a week, and can be reached at 803-955-0342.

The Water Damage Restoration Process

3/17/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO Franchise Professionals have the expertise and equipment to quickly restore your property to pre-water damage condition. They use a scientific approach to water removal and water cleanup that emphasizes monitoring and documenting the drying process from beginning to end.

Have Water Damage?
Call Today 803-955-0342

Every water damage event is a little different, and requires a unique solution, but the general process stays the same. You can click on any of the steps below to learn more about that process.

Step 1 - Emergency Contact

When you call, our representative will guide you through several questions that will help the SERVPRO Franchise Professional respond to your water emergency more quickly and efficiently. This initial contact is an important part of a fast, effective restoration.

Step 2 - Inspection and Water Damage Assessment

They carefully inspect your property’s water damage, determining the type of water damage and the areas affected. This is a crucial step to creating an effective plan of action that will result in a successful restoration.

Step 3 - Water Removal / Water Extraction


Typically, hundreds or thousands of gallons of water are removed using our powerful pumps and vacuums during the water removal process. The SERVPRO Franchise Professionals start this process as soon as possible to minimize further damage and to help prevent mold growth.

Step 4 - Drying and Dehumidification

After the bulk of the water has been removed, SERVPRO Franchise Professionals use specialized equipment to target the water that’s harder to access. They use less intrusive, scientific drying methods to draw the remaining water and moisture from your property with air movers and dehumidifiers.

Step 5 - Cleaning and Sanitizing

Water damage also affects your belongings, like furniture, clothing, and personal items. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals can clean restorable items using a number of specialized cleaning techniques. They also sanitize with antimicrobial treatments and remove odors using industrial air scrubbers and fogging equipment.

Step 6 - Restoration

The last step is restoring your home or business back to its pre-water damage condition. The restoration step can be relatively minor, such as replacing a few drywall panels, or could include major reconstruction, such as rebuilding entire rooms of a home or business.

Do's and Don't of a Water Damage

3/17/2018 (Permalink)

THE DO’S OF WATER DAMAGE

  • Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting
  • Wipe excess water damage from wood furniture after removal of lamps and table top items.
  • Remove and prop wet upholstery and pillow cushions for even drying
  • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting
  • Turn air conditioning on for maximum drying (in summer)
  • Remove Oriental rugs or other colored rugs from wet wall-to-wall carpeting
  • Remove valuable paintings and art objects to a safe, dry place
  • Open and place luggage, in sunlight to dry, if possible
  • Gather loose items, toys, etc. from floors

THE DON’TS OF WATER DAMAGE

  • Leave wet fabrics in place; dry as soon as possible. Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature
  • Leave books, magazines or other colored items on wet carpets or floors
  • Use a standard vacuum to remove water
  • Use TVs or other major appliances while standing on wet carpets or floors, especially not on wet concrete floors
  • Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet, and keep out of rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water

We sincerely hope these experiences never happen to you but if they do we are standing by to help, 24 hours a day/7 days a week, and can be reached at 803-755-9774.