Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween Safety Tips for Homeowners


By: Julie Rock-Chatellier

Halloween is a festive day that kids enjoy, because they get dressed up and get treats. However, for a homeowner -- it could be an insurance claim waiting to happen.  Will you be hosting a party or inviting trick-or-treaters to your door? Opening your property to the public can leave you susceptible to insurance claims and lawsuits.

If you follow a few tips to ensure safety and protect your home from damages or liability, you can prevent the risk of a homeowners insurance claim spoiling the fun.


Here are some tidbits to get you started.....


Keep the Lights On – By having a well-lit home you will be sure that everyone, both visitors and trick-or-treaters, are able to see clearly after dark once they enter your property. Not only will you be protecting yourself from a liability claim, you will deter burglars from getting their hands on your secret stash of chocolate & diamonds.

Clear the Way – While it may be funny to watch in the movies, having a child running from the house that a monster jumps out of (and that child not be your own), will likely result in having a liability claim filed against you should the child be injured. Get rid of law clutter. Especially at Halloween! Clear your lawn and walkways of toys, lawn ornaments, gardening equipment, etc. to help avoid a liability. 

Put Fido in the Kennel – Dogs and cats could jump on or even bite unfamiliar visitors -- especially those in costume. For the safety of your guests as well as your pets, keep dogs and cats away from the front porch or open areas. Can you imagine poor little Tommy having to get stitches because Fido was scared of Spiderman? Tommy's dreams of being a postman will forever be torn apart.

How Old Are You? –  You are responsible for the safety of guests who will visit your home this Halloween.  Keep everyone the safest you can on your property and only serve non-alcoholic beverages to your older party guests; and, if you will be serving alcohol, be sure that you do not allow anyone who is under-age to drink it. Unless you look really good in horizontal stripes or plan to carry your prisoner costume into real life, just don't do it! Want to know what the laws are for underage drinking in your home state? Click Here. There are actually eight different exceptions to the Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) of 21.

I Want Candy - Just like with alcohol consumption, you are responsible for what your guests and visitors consume. Only give trick-or-treaters commercially-packaged treats. Do you want to give out healthier treats? Try giving out small packs or raisins, small apples or mandarin oranges, fruit juice boxes, pretzels, or snack pack pudding. 

Assure Home Security – Getting away from the ghosts and goblins? Don't forget to set your alarm system before you leave the house. Let your neighbors know you will be leaving, and turn on motion-sensor lights, so they can keep their eyes on the place. Just like Christmas, Halloween is a prime time for mischief and burglaries. 

Test Your Home Smoke Alarms – While you are testing your home security system, don’t forget to test your smoke alarms well in advance of the Halloween celebrations to minimize the chance of having a claim for fire damage. 

To Carve or Not to Carve – Leave the pumpkin-carving to the adults this Halloween and encourage them to use a special pumpkin cutter for extra safety. Allow children to help with the design before carving. Better yet, use an acrylic paint to paint the pumpkins or try any of these alternatives to cutting the pumpkins up.

Jack-o-Lantern Safety – Avoid fire damage claims by using a battery-powered light in your pumpkin. Jack-o-Lanterns left unattended can easily be tipped over by trick-or-treaters or pets. No sense in putting a person, pet or your home in danger.

No Open Flames – Just as with Jack-o-Lanterns, setting the spooky Halloween mood with candles and luminaries that can easily be overturned, could result in homeowners insurance claims for fire damage.  Consider light sticks or battery-powered lighting instead.

Check Your Homeowners Insurance – Take a moment to speak with your insurance agent to be sure you will be fully protected for whatever plans you have for the Halloween Holiday.  The time to find out that your coverage is incomplete is NOT after you have a claim.

*****

About Julie Rock-Chatellier
As Claim Manager and adjuster for Provencher & Company, Julie assures the claims process transpires smoothly and timely with both our adjusters and clients throughout the course of managing our claim assignments; overseeing the claims support staff, examiners and trainers in our National Claim Center.

Julie also serves as the claim system administrator and website & social media manager for Provencher & Company. Having over 18 years experience in office management, bookkeeping and customer account management, she had served in staff and management assignments in various industries, gaining a working, practical knowledge of marketing & account administration. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Registration now OPEN for the National Tornado Summit




The National Tornado Summit improves disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery in order to save lives and property in the United States.
In addition, the summit serves as a national forum for insurance professionals and regulators as well as international, national and state experts to exchange ideas and recommend new policies to improve emergency management.
Summit highlights include:
  • A two-day tradeshow that connects you to valuable resources, services, and products
  • General sessions with presentations on Crisis & Disaster Communications, Business & Home Safety, Disaster Stress, and Reinsurance
  • Over 25 breakout sessions featuring international, national, and state experts
  • Continuing education credits for insurance professionals
  • Friends, food, and fun at the "Twister Mixer" reception
  • Tour of the National Weather Center in Norman, OK





*The posting of this article is for informational purposes only, as a courtesy to our reading audience. Provencher & Company does not own, has in no way been compensated for the sharing of this information, and content of said article belongs to that of the originating author. The use of or enrollment in any classes, seminars, training, etc. in no way constitutes or implies any endorsement of the provider of said programs. Provencher & Company shares no financial obligation to attendee or organizer.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Large Loss Reserving

By: Jerry Provencher

Reserving is risky business. Adjusters hardly ever get credit for a tightly estimated reserve, but nobody escapes the hairy eyeball for a reserve increase. The surest road to loss of client confidence is through stair stepping of reserves. That said, even the largest or most complicated loss can be fairly reserved with a systematic approach.

A systematic approach to establishing reserves, spiced with a healthy suspicion in the extent of damage builds reputation and client confidence.  Airline pilots, surgical teams and engineers utilize lists to ensure comprehensive analysis in their fields; an adjuster using the same method to calculate reserves will have better reserve accuracy. I say we should be calculating, rather than ball-parking, because a reserve is as much a calculation as an estimate.

Knowing the coverage is critical. Endorsements provide all manner of additional coverages or expansions.  Increased limits, Law or Ordinance, Newly Acquired Property and Time/Power Element coverage expansions are commonplace. Edition dates can be significant: The Building and Personal Property Coverage Form edition 10/00 provides up to an additional $10,000 for debris removal, the 10/12 edition $25,000.

A systematic approach is based upon categories of exposure, either by coverage or damage; Emergency expenses, remediation, general conditions and demolition & cartage are all separate estimates. Construction division categories are components of a reserve: Roofing, electrical, plumbing, masonry, doors/windows, interior finishes are all examples of the individual calculation that adds up to the whole.  Each may have subcategories; Interior finishes include flooring, drywall and decorating. Each category can be estimated by square foot, cubic foot or experienced judgment, depending upon the loss. The key is to reduce each exposure to its smallest component, and not omit any category of cost.


Finally, foolish is the adjuster who does not include a healthy allowance for the unknown; reducing reserves is easy; increasing reserves often means the person who assigned you the loss has to go explain your reserve increase to the boss. 

HERE is an example of a quick reserve in the field. Provencher & Company adjusters may log into the secured adjuster portal on our website for a more detailed, systematic explanation and more examples.

*****

As CEO/ Executive General Adjuster Jerry has handled multi-million dollar losses across the country and oversees the Business Interruption Unit. He has testified as an expert witness in business interruption and has represented major insurers as claims handling expert in both bad-faith litigation and the Justice Department’s investigation into catastrophe claims handling following the Northridge Earthquake.

Jerry has more than 30 years experience in property claims, including 16 years with insurance company claims management and Home-Office Technical staff. As AVP of a major insurer, he managed the general adjuster, fire investigation and catastrophe programs.

Jerry is a frequent speaker and instructor with numerous organizations and his articles on technical claim issues have been published by such organizations as American Bar Association, Claims Magazine, PLRB, International Association of Arson Investigators, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms and the IICRC S520 Mold Remediation Standards.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Home Fire Safety

By: Julie Rock-Chatellier

October: National Fire Prevention Month


Would you know what to do if a fire started in your home? Would your children? Last week schools across the country participated in activities related to National Fire Prevention Week. If your kids are anything like mine, they came home with a wealth of knowledge and even some funny stories. "Mom, did you know Mrs. Brown [a teacher] is always at the fire station because her husband is like A CHIEF or something?!?!?! But, the fireman that I talked to told me that SHE is the REAL boss of all the firemen because she keeps them ALL in line!" *This was coming from my 11 yr. old, but I fought back laughter knowing the Brown family personally.* 

You see we, just so happen, live in a wonderful community that takes great pride in teaching our youngsters about fire safety -- poster contests, visits from firemen & firetrucks to the schools, free pencils, erasers, stickers, those *gross* little fake tattoos, fire hats.... you know, the stuff youngsters like! You name it - they do it! 

However, they aren't only given "fun" stuff, they are taught valuable information that could save their lives in the event of a fire. The kids listen, then they come home and tell mom & dad all about it. For a week now, at least once of my children tests a smoke alarm DAILY to make sure it works, "So we don't die MOM!"  Ahhhhh...

So, with that said: Take the time now to review fire safety facts and tips so your family will be prepared in the event of a fire emergency in your home. Of course, the best way to practice fire safety is to make sure a fire doesn't break out in the first place, but be prepared nonetheless.

Smoke Alarms

Fact: Having a smoke alarm in the house cuts your risk of dying in a fire in half. Almost 60% of all fatal residential fires occur in homes that don't have smoke alarms, so this may be the single most important thing you can do to keep your family safe from fires.

If your home doesn't have smoke alarms, now is the time to install them on every level of your home and in each bedroom. If possible, choose one with a 10-year lithium battery. If your smoke alarm uses regular batteries, remember to replace them every year. Test your smoke alarms monthly (not daily - like my sweet little monsters), and be sure your kids are familiar with the sound of the alarm.

Tip: change your batteries when you change your clock back from Daylight Saving Time in the fall.

Because smoke rises, smoke detectors should always be placed on ceilings or high on walls.  If you're having a new home built or remodeling an older home, you may also want to consider adding a home sprinkler system -- depending on your policy, this can also give you added savings on your homeowners' insurance rates. 

Teaching Kids the Facts About Fire

Unfortunately, many people will try to hide from a fire, often in a closet, under a bed, or in a corner. But if taught basic fire facts, they'd be better able to protect themselves. If your family isn't as fortunate as mine to have a education-focused local fire department, teach them yourself that: fires spread quickly, that most fire-related deaths are not from burns but from smoke inhalation, and that dangerous fumes can overcome a person in just a few minutes.


Things Everyone Should Know In The Event of A Fire:

  1. Cover your mouth and nose with a moist towel or an article of clothing to keep out dangerous fumes while evacuating
  2. Crawl under the smoke to safety, staying as low to the ground as possible (smoke always rises)
  3. Touch any door (not the doorknob) to see if it is hot, and if it is, not to open it — find another exit
  4. Locate the nearest stairway marked "Fire Exit" if you live in an apartment building, or a fire escape if the stairway isn't accessible — children should know to always avoid elevators during a fire
  5. Never stop to take personal belongings or pets or to make a phone call (even to 911) while evacuating
  6. Never go back into a burning building once safely outside
  7. Stop, drop, and roll to extinguish flames if an article of clothing catches on fire
Children should also always be dressed for bed in flame-retardant sleepwear.

Practice Fire Drills at Home

Kids have fire drills at school and adults have them at work. Why shouldn't you have them at home, too? Fires are frightening and can cause panic. By practicing different scenarios, your family will be less likely to waste precious time trying to figure out what to do.

Planning escape routes are a necessity, especially if a fire were to occur during the night. Go through each room in your house and think about the possible exits. You should have in your mind two escape routes from each room, in case one is blocked by fire. Inspect the room to make sure that furniture and other objects are not blocking doorways or windows.

Make sure that the windows in every room are easy to open and are not painted over or nailed shut - these may be your only way out in a fire.

**See Footnote**
If you live in an apartment building, make sure any safety bars on windows are removable in an emergency. Be sure to know the locations of the closest stairwells or fire escapes and where they lead.

If your house is more than one story tall or if you live above the ground floor of an apartment building, an escape ladder is an important safety feature. You should have one escape ladder made of fire-safe material (aluminum, not rope) in each upper-story bedroom that is occupied by a person who is capable of using it.

Like fire extinguishers, escape ladders should be operated by adults only. The ladder must be approved by an independent testing laboratory, its length must be appropriate for your home, and it must support the weight of the heaviest adult in the house.

Discuss and rehearse the escape routes you've planned for each room of your home. Designate a meeting place outside your house or apartment building that is a safe distance away (a mailbox, a fence, or even a distinctive-looking tree will do) where everyone can be accounted for after they escape.

Then, every so often, test your plan. Use your finger to set off the smoke detector and let everyone know it's time for a fire drill. See if everyone can evacuate your home and gather outside within 3 minutes — the time it can take for an entire house to go up in flames.

**Boston Herald photographer Stanley J. Forman snapped this picture in 1975 after a fire broke on out Marlborough Street. The two individuals depicted, Diana Bryant and Tiare Jones, jumped from their building just seconds before a fireman tried to grab them to save their life. Diana Bryant was pronounced dead at the scene, while the little girl survived. The powerful photograph won a Pulitzer Prize and also paved the way for Boston and other states to mandate tougher fire safety codes.**

*****

About Julie Rock-Chatellier
As Claim Manager and adjuster for Provencher & Company, Julie assures the claims process transpires smoothly and timely with both our adjusters and clients throughout the course of managing our claim assignments; overseeing the claims support staff, examiners and trainers in our National Claim Center.

Julie also serves as the claim system administrator and website & social media manager for Provencher & Company. Having over 18 years experience in office management, bookkeeping and customer account management, she had served in staff and management assignments in various industries, gaining a working, practical knowledge of marketing & account administration. 



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Using Remote Depositions To Reduce Costs in Litigation



Using Remote Depositions To Reduce Costs in Litigation



Insurance companies have found substantial benefits in using remote depositions as a way to reduce costs and increase internal access to depositions. Insurers are enabling attorneys and claims professionals the ability to easily view depositions as they happen - or after the fact. Join this webinar to learn best practices from legal professionals who are using this in their practice.

Date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM - 12:30 PM EDT













*The posting of this article is for informational purposes only, as a courtesy to our reading audience. Provencher & Company does not own, has in no way been compensated for the sharing of this information, and content of said article belongs to that of the originating author. The use of or enrollment in any classes, seminars, training, etc. in no way constitutes or implies any endorsement of the provider of said programs. Provencher & Company shares no financial obligation to attendee or organizer.





Monday, October 13, 2014

Severe Storms Wallop South; Tornado Ashdown, AR

Severe storms ripped through the South overnight, killing at least one person in Arkansas and damaging homes and property in Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri, according to the Weather Channel. 

More severe weather is forecast for Monday. A tornado watch -- meaning conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop -- is in place for much of Arkansas and parts of Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Wind gusts of 75 to 80 mph were reported in southwestern parts of that Oklahoma, as one home lost parts of its roof in Elmer. In Texas, thousands of homes and businesses lost electricity as thunderstorms soaked northern parts of the state. Most of the outages are concentrated in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Forecasters say areas east of Little Rock are at the greatest risk of tornadoes Monday, including eastern Arkansas, northwestern Mississippi and far western Tennessee. Memphis is the biggest city under the severe weather threat Monday.

Widespread heavy rainfall is also expected in and around these areas contributing to flash flood potential, the National Weather Service predicts.


With a seasoned team of adjusters located throughout the Ohio Valley & Gulf Coast States, Provencher & Company stands ready to assist all of our client's claim evaluation needs. For commercial or residential property loss assistance, call 866-722-5246. 

Send your assignments to us directly at
claims@provencherclaims.com or complete our online assignment form at www.provencherclaims.com

Risk of Damage from Natural Hazards By State

Are you safe where you live? Find out in the article below whether you live in an area at risk for Natural Hazards.


Risk of Damage from Natural Hazards By State

Florida, Rhode Island, Louisiana, California and Massachusetts are the top 5 states for exposure to multiple natural hazards, according to an analysis by CoreLogic, a property data and analytics firm.

Michigan, West Virginia, New York, North Dakota and Vermont have the lowest score for exposure to multiple hazards, the report said.

The analysis was derived from the CoreLogic Hazard Risk Score (HRS), a new tool that gathers data on multiple natural hazard risks and combines them into a single score ranging from 0 to 100. The overall score indicates risk exposure at the individual property and location level.

For every geo-coded location across the U.S, the proprietary CoreLogic HRS is compiled using data representing nine natural hazards: flood, wildfire, tornado, storm surge, earthquake, straight-line wind, hurricane wind, hail and sinkhole.

Alaska and Hawaii were not included due to limited natural hazard risk data, CoreLogic said.

Locations with higher risk levels are exposed to multiple hazard risks and will, therefore, receive higher scores when the risk analysis is aggregated. Subsequently, locations with minimal risk levels have lower exposure and receive lower scores. Geo-coded locations are generated at the property-address level using latitude and longitude coordinates and include both residential and commercial properties.


“Florida’s high level of risk is driven by the potential for hurricane winds and storm surge damage along its extensive Atlantic and Gulf coastline, as well as the added potential for sinkholes, flooding and wildfires. Michigan alternatively ranks low for most natural hazard risks, other than flooding,” said Dr. Howard Botts, vice president and chief scientist for CoreLogic Spatial Solutions.

In calculating the overall score, both the probability of an event and the frequency of past events are significant contributing factors used to determine risk levels associated with individual hazards, as well as each distinct hazard’s risk contribution to total loss. The data is combined into an aggregated, consistent and normalized value that allows statistically valid combinations to be derived.

“In the past, natural hazards have been difficult to compare and combine in a meaningful way,” said Dr. Botts. He said the new Hazard Risk Score is a “single solution” that measures risk concentration consistently and pinpoints the riskiest places in the U.S. with accuracy.

“This insight is critical in conducting comparative risk management nationwide and fully understanding exposure to potential natural hazard damage,” he said.

CoreLogic says the score can be used to improve decision-making in a variety of business operations, including:

  • Business continuity and disaster recovery planning
  • Analyzing risk associated with a residential property or portfolios of properties
  • Measuring mitigation savings vs. total hazard potential damage
  • Evaluating and determining natural hazard risk levels of distribution and supplier networks
  • Recognizing which underinsured or uninsured properties may become at risk of default
  • Adverse selection avoidance and identification of “good risk” properties


U.S. Natural Hazard Risk by State*  (Ranked by CoreLogic Hazard Risk Score)

Rank  State   HRS
1           FL         94.51
2           RI         79.67
3           LA        79.23
4           CA        75.56
5           MA       72.12
6           KS        69.51
7           CT        69.04
8           OK       66.82
9           SC        66.38
10         DE       65.38
11         OR       64.89
12         NJ        61.54
13         IA        61.02
14         TX       60.89
15         NC       59.72
16         MO      57.81
17         DC       57.33
18         MS       57.05
19         AR       56.7
20         NH       55.3
21         ID        52.75
22         MD      52.28
23         CO       51.88
24         NE       51.86
25         IL         51.8
26         IN        50.74
27         GA       50.58
28         NV       50.12
29         AL       49.42
30         KY       47.34
31         TN       46.48
32         UT       45.22
33         NM      43.76
34         AZ       42.81
35         VA       42.35
36         WA      42.3
37         WI        38.52
38         SD        38.24
39         MT       37.91
40         MN      36.42
41         OH       34.61
42         ME       31.64
43         WY      30.24
44         PA        28.79
45         VT       28.31
46         ND       27.5
47         NY       24.97
48         WV      20.67
49         MI        20.22
Source: CoreLogic 2014
* AK and HI were excluded in the ranking due to limited natural hazard risk data

Article Originally Published By: Insurance Journal

*The posting of this article is for informational purposes only, as a courtesy to our reading audience. Provencher & Company does not own, has in no way been compensated for the sharing of this information, and content of said article belongs to that of the originating author. The use of or enrollment in any classes, seminars, training, etc. in no way constitutes or implies any endorsement of the provider of said programs. Provencher & Company shares no financial obligation to attendee or organizer.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

8 Ways to Prepare Your Property for Winter

By: Julie Rock-Chatellier


As property owners we're often faced with the tougher realities of the changing seasons. A heavy snowfall doesn't just mean a day off of school or work; it can also mean an overworked furnace, a power outage, damage to a roof, and even burst pipes. All of these situations cause damage to our homes or business, then in-turn create a call to an insurance agent or company to file a claim.  

Let's also not forget about rising energy costs: According to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, Americans spend almost twice as much of their income on energy as they did a decade ago. From the Northern Pacific, down to the Gulf Coast, and back north to the New England state - our wallets are all taking a hard hit to stay warm and to protect our property from damages. It's a necessary evil we all face!

While we can't always predict what Old Man Winter will send our way, we can take a few precautions to ensure we spend less time cleaning up weather-induced messes, filing insurance claims, and fretting over utility bills and more time building sledding ramps & snowmen in the back yard.

Below are 8 of the top things you can do to protect your property investment from damage during the winter months. A little time and/or money spent up front can eliminate your need to call upon your insurance provider as a result of damage. Remember, wear and tear is NOT a covered cause of loss! 


Tune Up Your Heating System
Before winter arrives, the most important thing you need to do for yourself, your family and your employees is to ensure that your furnace is operational, safe, and as energy-efficient as you can make it. For about $100, a technician can inspect your boiler, furnace or heat pump ensuring the system is clean, working properly, and that it can achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency. The inspection will also measure carbon-monoxide leakage. Side note: Do you have carbon-monoxide detectors in addition to your smoke detectors installed?

By scheduling that inspection now, you'll minimize the chance of being 100th caller in line for repairs on the coldest day of the year. Look for a heating and air-conditioning contractor that belongs to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and technicians certified by the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) program. 



Hit the Roof
Grab a ladder and take to the roof - or, if you are terrified of heights like I am, break out the binoculars and give it a good look. Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak during winter’s storms or from melting snow.

“Roof deficiencies are the most common problem reported by home inspection associations,” says the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association. “Thirty percent of real estate inspection claims are due to roof leaks and water penetration,” the group says. “Thirty nine percent of homeowner’s insurance claims are because of roof problems.”

A simple cleaning with a broom or blower is all that is generally necessary. If your roof is flat and surfaced with asphalt and pebbles, rake or blow off fall leaves and pine needles, which hold moisture. If need be, hire a handyman to repair a few shingles or a roofer for a larger section. Be sure to check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys.

Clean the Gutters
Every winter there are billions of dollars in insured losses due to burst pipes, frozen gutters and other weather-related disasters. If your gutters are full of debris, water can back up against the house and damage roofing, siding and wood trim - plus cause leaks and ice dams.

If you have a low-sloped roof, even a leaf protection system cannot prevent debris from accumulating on your roof, so with or without a leaf protection system, roof maintenance is required. Remove leaves, acorns, sticks and other debris from gutters, so melting snow and ice can flow freely. Also look for missing or damaged gutters and fascia boards and repair them.

If you choose to call in a professional maintenance service, you'll typically pay $70 to $225 to clean gutters on a single-story house, depending on its size and your geographical location. 


Call a Chimney Sweep
Proper chimney preparations will not only help to cut your energy costs but will also help to keep you and your family safer. Besides - who likes to see a dirty looking chimney? 

Before you put the first log in for the winter, make sure your fireplace, chimney and vents are clean and are in no need of repair. This will prevent chimney fires and prevent carbon monoxide from creeping into your home. 

Just like with any other "seasonal" type service provider, as the weather turns cooler chimney sweeps start booking up. Search for a sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America to ensure your service provider is the best available. CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps are regularly tested on their understanding of the complexities of chimney and venting system. You can expect to pay $50 to $90 for an inspection to see if you need a cleaning, and $100 to $300 for the cleaning. Source: Costowl.com

Clean chimneys don’t catch fire. Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, which damage structures, destroy homes and injure or kill people. If you’re wondering how often you should have your chimney cleaned, a good rule of thumb is every three to five cords of wood that you burn. It depends on the size of your fireplace or wood stove though.


Prevent Ice Dams
An ice dam can damage both your roof and the inside of your home and will also put gutters and downspouts at risk of collapsing under the weight. Insurance claim waiting to happen, right?

My grandmother always said "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", and if you have ever experienced an ice dam on your roof you are likely shaking your head in agreement on that statement. What do you do to prevent an ice dam? Well -- Be sure to have a professional inspect and seal all areas where warm air may leak from inside your home/busines going into the spaces immediately below the roof sheathing. Insulating the living or work area and venting the space between the insulation and the roof sheathing (so any heat that does leak through is carried away) are also essential elements to preventing ice dams from forming.

A weatherization contractor can identify and fix air leaks and inadequate insulation in your home's attic that can lead to ice dams. If you have the work done before December 31, you can claim the federal energy-efficiency tax credit for 10% of the cost (excluding installation), up to $500. Your state or utility may offer a rebate, too.

If your home had lots of icicles last winter - or worse, ice dams, which can cause meltwater to back up and flow into your house - take steps now to prevent potential damage this year.


Caulk Around Windows and Doors
With the rising cost of heating, who wants to let their money float out through the cracks? If the gaps between siding and window or door frames are bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to reapply exterior caulk. 

Silicone caulk is best for exterior use because it won’t shrink and it’s impervious to the elements. Try using a "rain ready" silicone caulk for best results. Check window-glazing putty, too (which seals glass into the window frame). Add weatherstripping as needed around doors, making sure you cannot see any daylight from inside your home.

Of course, if your windows are older than 10 years or are single-paned glass, you probably should think about replacing them for the energy-efficient ones currently on the market. Windows are not cheap, though, so you might have to replace them over a period of time - unless your last name is Rockefeller or Gates.


Exposed Exterior Water Sources
Property owners are encouraged to take precautions to winterize their outdoor pipes to save time, money, and water. According to sources at the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, most in-ground pipes will be OK during the winter, since typically only the top two inches of ground will freeze in Georgia. Source: www.hcwsa.com

Undrained water in pipes can freeze, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets. If you leave your garden hose attached to the faucet, you’re asking for trouble.

Determine if your faucet is frost-free or not. To know for sure whether a faucet is frost-free or not, look up inside the spout. On a frost-free faucet, all you’ll be able to see is a metal stem.  On a faucet that isn’t frost free, you’ll be able to see the valve components open and close when the handle is turned.  If you don’t have frost-proof faucets (homes more than ten to 15 years old typically do not), turn off the shut-off valve inside your home. 



Drain Your Lawn-Irrigation System
Every year, before the first freeze, the ritual of irrigation "blow out" becomes the priority for all irrigation systems in regions located where the frost level extends below the depth of installed piping.

Even if you have drained the water out of your irrigation system, some water remains and can freeze, expand, and crack PVC piping. To minimize the risk of freeze damage, you'll need to winterize your irrigation system. In areas where winterization is mandatory, irrigation systems are installed using one of three types of water removal: manual drain, auto drain, or blowout. If you don't know your system type, it is best to use the blowout method.

But, to be on the safe side, this is one area of winterization that it is always best to call in a professionals to do the job. Your sprinkler service will charge $50 to $150, depending on the size of the system.



Insurance shouldn’t be looked at as a maintenance policy and property owners should do all they can do to avoid damage. Likewise, once damage does occur, it is the property owners’ responsibility to prevent any further damage to the best of their ability. 

Depending on which insurance you have, you could be financially responsible for the roof destruction caused by winter storms. Every insurance company is different and property owners' need to know completely what their policy states.


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About Julie Rock-Chatellier
As Claim Manager and adjuster for Provencher & Company, Julie assures the claims process transpires smoothly and timely with both our adjusters and clients throughout the course of managing our claim assignments.

Julie oversees the claims support staff, examiners and trainers in our National Claim Center and is instrumental in making sure daily and catastrophe assignments and work is being distributed and produced accurately and timely while following all state compliance statutes. She also serves as the claim system administrator.

Julie has over 18 years experience in office management, bookkeeping and customer account management.  She had served in staff and management assignments in various industries, gaining a working, practical knowledge of marketing & account administration. 



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Audit 101 - Do's and Don'ts, Pet Peeves and Pitfalls


No cost to attend

Audit 101 - Do's and Don'ts, Pet Peeves and Pitfalls


This webinar will examine the roles played by industry professionals, corporate counsel and law firms and how to collaboratively work through the audit process. Specifically, we will examine the "dos and don'ts" of audits, identify pet peeves of the various players, and provide practical tips on how to avoid audit pitfalls.


Date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM - 12:30 PM EDT







*The posting of this article is for informational purposes only, as a courtesy to our reading audience. Provencher & Company does not own, has in no way been compensated for the sharing of this information, and content of said article belongs to that of the originating author. The use of or enrollment in any classes, seminars, training, etc. in no way constitutes or implies any endorsement of the provider of said programs. Provencher & Company shares no financial obligation to attendee or organizer.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Home Insurance Liability Coverage And Bees

Summer time is full of picnics, fun times and outside activities. While out on her patio, a next door neighbor is stung by a bee and notices that you have a huge beehive hanging from an overhang. The neighbor says she is calling a lawyer to sue you for her injuries. Should you be worried? See the attached article for one insurance advisor’s opinion.


Homeowners liability coverage: Can it handle bees?
By Jack Hungelmann • Bankrate.com

Dear Insurance Adviser,
We have a honey bee hive on our roof that is home to a couple dozen bees, and we recently were told by a neighbor that she would be contacting her attorney because she got stung. These bees have never bothered us at all. If she sues us, would the liability coverage in our home insurance take care of any or all of the lawyer's fees? What about any damages? 
-- Sally


Dear Sally,
Good news! Home insurance policies pretty much universally include worldwide personal liability coverage to a limit of at least $100,000 for any damages. Defense costs are covered separately and completely until the full liability limit has been paid to the injured party.

Limits higher than $100,000 are available at minimal extra cost. For example, the additional cost to raise the limit to $500,000 is as low as $20-$30 a year. Additional liability coverage is one of the best buys in the insurance business. The extra liability protection comes with continued defense coverage until the higher limit has been paid in damages.

As an aside, it doesn't seem like your neighbor has much of a case. You're not raising bees and don't have a honey-making operation. You are just a homeowner peacefully coexisting with nature. Some bees have adopted your roof as their home.

Where is the negligence? Even if it's true that one of your bees did sting her, she would have to prove that the guilty bee came from your hive. Good luck with that!

I hope that helps.

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Ask the adviser
To ask a question of the Insurance Adviser, go to the "Ask the Experts" page and select "Insurance" from the drop-down box. Read more Insurance Adviser columns.

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*The posting of this article is for informational purposes only, as a courtesy to our reading audience. Provencher & Company does not own, has in no way been compensated for the sharing of this information, and content of said article belongs to that of the originating author. The use of or enrollment in any classes, seminars, training, etc. in no way constitutes or implies any endorsement of the provider of said programs. Provencher & Company shares no financial obligation to attendee or organizer.