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Understanding the Claims Process and Rebuilding After a Disaster
Rebuilding a home after a major loss is a tedious process. There are several necessary actions that must be taken even before reconstruction can begin, and the most important of these is the claims process. To make this process easier, take the following steps.
Filing A Claim
To start a claim, call your agent or visit a mobile center. Most people want to immediately start the cleanup process. However, it is important to remember that the insurer must have a very accurate estimate of the damages. Take videos or photos before removing any debris or fixing any damages. Document every loss on an organized list. Whenever possible, save damaged items to show the insurance representative. Make any temporary repairs as necessary to prevent further damage to the home.
After a major disaster happens, most insurance companies have time limits for filing claims. Homeowners should have their policy information available when calling an agent to make a claim. Before calling, make sure a home inventory has been taken. In some cases, insurers may extend or waive filing deadlines, so be sure to ask about this.
When making an assessment of the damages, remember that typical policies only cover damage to the contents of the home and the home itself. Renters policies only cover belongings. A different type of claim will be necessary for a damaged vehicle, which must be submitted to an auto insurer. Keep in mind that renters and homeowners policies do not cover flood damage. Only a plan with the NFIP will suffice for actual flood damage, so ask an agent about this coverage 314-351-HALO(4256).
The Claims Process
After the claim has been filed, the insurance company will send someone to assess the damage. They will send a company adjuster, which is an employee of the company. The adjuster will be the first person to survey the damage and will not charge for the service. Keep in mind that this individual will want to see every damaged item that was removed from the home. He or she will also request any photos or videos that show damages. It is best to have as much information and proof of damages as possible. The adjuster will want to see every area of the home. After creating an assessment, this individual will submit it to the insurance company.
Concerned policyholders are welcome to call their agents during the claims process to check the status of a claim. If any issues arise, call the insurer to verify that all contact information provided is correct. When conflicts arise regarding a claim or a contractor's estimates, contact an agent to discuss these issues.
Some people may receive more than one check for a claim. In most cases, the first check is money for an emergency advance on the main sum. While most checks are made out to the homeowner, they may be made out to a mortgage holder if there is a payment for structural damage to a home that is still mortgaged. The money is often put into an escrow account to pay for repairs as they are completed.
When contractors find damages that were not initially discovered, it is important to contact the insurance company immediately to work out the difference. The contractor and adjuster may meet to assess the damage. If the differences cannot be resolved, contact a personal insurance agent to discuss the issue. Items that may have been accidentally omitted or were later discovered can still be reported even after a claim has been settled. However, if the entire limit of the policy has been paid, there will not be any additional compensation. There are also grants, loans and other types of assistance available in some cases.
Speak to your agent about your insurance coverage and claims questions at HALO Insurance and Benefits Group 314-351-HALO(4256).
Common Questions About Fire Sprinkler Systems
Automatic fire sprinkler systems can save lives and property in both residential and commercial settings. There are several common questions that arise when people consider installing these systems. This guide provides answers to most questions, but those who have further questions should discuss concerns with an agent at 314-351-HALO(4256).
Question: Are fire sprinklers really effective? Answer: According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are no records of fires resulting in more than two fatalities in areas that had adequate sprinkler coverage. In cases where fatalities resulted in buildings with sprinklers, the people who died were usually in direct contact with flames before the sprinklers were activated.
Question: When did fire sprinklers first appear? Answer: People have been using automatic sprinklers since the 1870s.
Question: Is there a risk of accidental discharge with fire sprinklers? Answer: The likelihood of a fire sprinkler being activated as a result of manufacturing defects is only about one in 16 million. Research shows that these devices have been consistently dependable. It is possible to activate sprinklers by accidental or intentional damage, but the likelihood of that happening is small.
Question: Does research prove the effectiveness of sprinklers? Answer: A study conducted in 2001 showed that these devices were effective and useful. The entire report is available from the National Fire Protection Association. Experts also point out that a city in Arizona has required residential buildings to have fire sprinklers for more than 15 years.
Question: What is the cost of a fire sprinkler system? Answer: The cost of these systems is usually determined per square foot, and the price per unit can vary widely. Climate classification also affects the cost of a system, and both water supply and water pressure play roles in determining the overall cost of use. For example, a system installed in a cold climate with low water pressure and an undependable water supply will cost more than a system installed in a warm climate with a good water supply and water pressure. It is also cheaper to have new systems installed instead of having retrofitted components installed. The cost difference is about $1 per square foot.
Question: After a fire sprinkler is activated, does excessive water damage follow? Answer: Fire sprinklers are designed to eliminate fires in earlier stages, and the majority of fires can be controlled with only a few sprinklers. These devices use much less water than the fire hoses use, so any water damage caused by a sprinkler will not be as bad as the water damage that would likely follow after a call to the local firefighters.
Question: Why are sprinklers not required in every state? Answer: The NFPA develops standards for installing fire sprinkler systems. Their standards vary greatly from one region to another based on occupancy rates and fire risk classifications. While the standards are not considered laws by themselves, they do influence building procedures and are subject to change every few years. States and local jurisdictions can adopt the requirements as laws if they choose to do so, and they become part of the building codes this way.
Question: Do fire sprinklers have to be professionally installed? Answer: Sprinkler systems must be installed in compliance with local and state ordinances or codes. In some cases, homeowners may be permitted to install their own systems. However, this is not a simple DIY project to complete over the span of one weekend. In some areas, local codes may prohibit the average person from installing his or her own system. Many states require contractors who are licensed to install these systems.
Question: Do federal laws require fire sprinklers? Answer: There was an act passed in the 1990s to protect the property and lives of people staying in motels and hotels from fires. The law requires federal employees traveling on business to stay in public places that are in accordance with fire safety standards. In addition to this, federal meetings and conferences must be held in places that meet these standards.
Appreciating the Value of Life Insurance
Whenever someone passes away there is usually an associated financial loss. Such loss could be the primary income for a family or the replacement value of someone responsible for the care of a child or disabled parent. It could also be a business executive in charge of sales or an employee who managed the operation when senior management was absent.
This potential financial loss is often referred to as a person's human life value. The value itself is calculated based on the future loss of an income stream, the future cost of replacement, or the immediate impact to a company while it attempts to replace the key employee.
For most families, the potential loss of income is the primary reason to buy life insurance. Losing the paycheck of a working spouse will leave most families in a tenuous situation. Their normal lifestyle becomes vulnerable on a reduced income.
In years past, the primary breadwinner was usually the father. The mother tended to the house, while the father headed to the office. Mom was there to welcome the kids home from school and Dad brought home the paycheck. Times have changed and today women participate equally in the workforce. Despite what continues to be an income discrepancy between the sexes, the money Mom earns is essential to the financial well being of the family.
Additionally, it is no secret that consumer debt in the U.S. is on the rise. Government data shows that Americans literally have a negative savings rate (i.e. we spend more than we earn). As such, any reduction in take home pay can potentially devastate literally hundreds of thousands of families. While this scenario is harsh enough while both parties are alive and well, the reality of what happens at the death of either breadwinner is frightening.
Because of these reasons, life insurance continues to play an important role in any financial plan. In fact, it should be the primary asset for families that stand to experience severe lifestyle disruptions should a spouse pass away. Unfortunately, the value of life insurance is frequently misunderstood by those who need it the most.
There are many variations of life insurance products to consider, but that's a topic for another day. The important message here relates to the extraordinary value of life insurance itself, not any particular policy type.
Indeed, there are very few, if any, recipients of a death claim who have asked their insurance agent about the type of coverage. The fact is the tax-free death benefit provided a welcomed amount of cash at precisely the time when money was needed the most.
Call us today and schedule your Life Insurance review meeting with one of our licensed agents 314-351-HALO(4256)
Pay Attention - Driving Distracted Could Be Your Demise
At one point in time a vehicle was a means to take us from point 'a' to point 'b.' Nowadays we not only travel in our vehicles, we eat meals in them, conduct business in them, read in them, watch TV in them, listen to cds and, of course, talk on the phone.
Cars are being equipped with more and more gadgets to seemingly make our life easier. In the midst of this progress, we neglect to realize that easier isn't always better, or, as in the case of driving while distracted, safer. While perfecting the 'skill' of multi-tasking we sometimes forget that our vehicle is potentially a lethal weapon.
As with many common tasks for most of us driving a car is second nature. Because of this most people feel that it is safe to perform various tasks while driving. Accident statistics tell us otherwise. We know from research that just thinking about things other than the road ahead has the same effect as removing your eyes from the road. When you actually take your eyes off the road to perform a task, the distance you travel is longer than you would think, especially when traveling at a high speed. It is usually far enough to hit someone or something that is suddenly placed in front of you. When you look away from the road you are merely speculating that nothing in your path will change until you resume the task of driving. When you do this you are gambling with your life and the lives of others.
The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety estimates that, nationwide, somewhere between 4,000 to 8,000 crashes daily happen as the result of distracted drivers. A National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) survey revealed that 60% of cell phone usage takes place behind the wheel.
While we may understand the risks we also know that our lives do not suddenly slow down because we want them to. So what do we do? Take steps to make our traveling safer and also take a minute to realize that the time to accomplish 10 different tasks isn't when we are behind the wheel.
Some steps toward a safer commute include:
· Use a hands free device when making calls and dial the number when the vehicle is stationary.
· Do not answer phone calls during hazardous driving situations.
· Be familiar with the controls on your car's stereo system so that you can make adjustments with considerable ease.
· Pull over to conduct business or finish challenging discussions.
· Never attempt to look for lost items or retrieve an item off the floor while driving.
· Be familiar with and adjust vehicle controls before starting out on a trip.
· Avoid eating, drinking and smoking while driving.
The life you save may not only be your own. Saving time is not nearly as important as staying alive.