As I write this blog, it is hard to believe that another catastrophic hurricane is approaching our shores. Like everyone else, I am still trying to grasp what happened in Texas with Hurricane Harvey. I know all our hearts go out to those who have lost so much and have such a long road ahead to regain normalcy. I am proud of our colleagues and our contractor partners who are, and will continue, working tirelessly to provide honest support to those who need our services.
I want to share some tips – to help those recovering now, post-Harvey, and to those facing Irma’s potential threat – on what can be done to protect your property in the hopes that even just one person will take these precautions and need less post-recovery help.
#1: Your safety is the number one concern
Please heed warnings to evacuate and head to a safe place. We have seen this time and time again where people think they can ride out a storm, resulting in serious consequences. We have also all seen instances where rescuers put their own lives in harm’s way to save those who do not heed warnings in time to evacuate.
#2: Things to check
- Do you have adequate supplies on hand?
- Fuel for your vehicle or generator
- Power sources such as chargers, pre-charged external power supplies, batteries
- Contingency plans for pets (Your pets are part of the family. Do you have a plan for your animal friends?)
- Are your facilities and home secure before you leave?
- Have you stored important papers or documents in a waterproof, fireproof safety deposit box?
- Do you have an exit route that will likely be safe? Do you know where you will go?
#3: Be mindful of personnel data
Have contact information accessible for your own immediate family and, if you own or manage a business, your employees, including their phone number, text preferences, email address and their nearest relative.
#4: Know your insurance coverage
You should know what your coverage includes before a storm hits. It is important to review insurance coverage each year and make sure you are really covered for certain events. Many in Texas are finding out, unfortunately, that their policies did not include the needed flood protections to help ease recovery from the current unprecedented and unexpected circumstances.
#1: Protect your property
Take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage. This could mean boarding up windows and salvaging undamaged items. Your insurance company can tell you what they will pay in order for you or a contractor to further mitigate damage.
#2: Start the cleanup
Always be careful when entering a damaged structure. If there appear to be serious structural issues, don’t enter, but rather contact local officials or professional contractors to assess the premises. Report downed power lines or gas leaks. Keep electricity turned off if the building has been flooded.
When starting the cleanup process, be careful, and use protective eyewear, gloves or other gear if available. Temporary repairs should focus on creating a safe environment and protecting your property from further damage. Cover broken windows, damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction.
Save receipts for supplies and materials you purchase. Keep damaged items or portions of them until the claim adjuster has visited, and consider photographing or videotaping the damage to document your claim.
#3: Select a contractor to help with recovery and repairs
You should talk with your insurance company about the coverage available for your loss and available resources for repairs. When selecting a contractor for emergency services, water mitigation and rebuilding, you should be careful to select a reliable, licensed and bonded contractor with experience in the specific type of work.
Be mindful of the rights and protections afforded consumers as they deal with recovery and repair. For example, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) released a Commissioner’s Bulletin on Hurricane Harvey – Recommending Building and Repair Contractors. The bulletin shares reminders about rules of misrepresentation, good faith claim settlement practices, as well as entitlement of those insured under a homeowners or dwelling policy to have their home repaired by a provider of choice. For additional TDI bulletins and information, their website is a continued, reliable resource.
Vericlaim Repair Solutions can assist you with finding certified contractors in your area by calling 800-587-4243, or you can submit a request through our website at www.vericlaimrepair.com.
Again, I want to emphasize that safety should be the most important thing to consider both pre- and post-loss. Buildings, furniture, personal effects and memorabilia are important, but most can be replaced or repaired. Your life cannot.
I am very grateful that our colleagues are able to help people as they work through these difficult times. It is never our desire to see devastating storms occur, but it is our honor to help in times of need. We pride ourselves on doing the right thing and, above all, showing that caring counts in all we do.
Please be safe and let us know how we can help.
Ed Reis, AIC, FCLA
President, Vericlaim Repair Solutions