Did you know your Homeowner Insurance Company can drop you after 2 or 3 small claims? Here are 6 steps you can take to better educate and protect yourself.
1. Don’t make small claims
- Raise your deductible to at least $1000. This can lower your premium up to 25% and prevent you from making those small claims that can get you dropped.
2. Check your CLUE Report
- Insurance Companies share information with one another through a DATA base called Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange or CLUE. It’s very important for you to check your CLUE Report for errors which can make it very difficult for you to get coverage and may cause your rates to increase. You can go to www.choicetrust.com to review your report.
3. Have enough coverage
- Report additions or upgrades to your home. Generally, premiums will not increase. Your agent can help you with appraisals or you can go to www.accucoverage.com
4. Visit an Independent Agent
- They can be very useful in high-risk areas such as flood zones. They are very helpful in helping you find the right insurer.
5. Ask what ISN’T Covered
- Flood coverage usually isn’t covered; you can go to www.floodsmart.gov for some very helpful information in securing flood coverage from government agencies. Look for sewage back-up coverage, this type of loss can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in claims. Mold is another loss that ISN’T typically covered. Many times a simple rider that can cost as little as $30/year and is added to your policy is all that is required for you to have some of these coverage’s. It is very important to know what is and isn’t covered in your policy.
6. Being Dropped
- Unless you violate your policy, you can only be dropped at the time of renewal. The insurance company has a 60 day window at the time of policy renewal to review you as a risk.
How To Determine Water Hazards by Category
Categories of water are determined by the source, contents, history and characteristics of the water.
Category 1 Water
Water that originated directly from a sanitary source and when exposed to it, either through the skin, inhaled or ingested, does not cause a great deal of harm to humans.
Examples of Category 1 Water:
- Broken water supply lines
- Melting ice or snow
- Falling rain water
- Tub or sink overflows (no contaminates)
Clean water that remains untreated for longer than 24 – 48 hours may change to Category 2 water!!
Category 2 Water
Defined as water with bacteria present, but no solid waste, carrying microorganisms and nutrients for microorganisms. Category 2 water does have the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if consumed or exposed to humans.
Examples of Category 2 water:
- Discharge from dishwashers or washing machines
- Toilet bowl overflows (urine, no feces)
- Seepage due to hydrostatic pressure
- Sump pump failures
Clean water that remains untreated for longer than 48 hours may change to Category 3 water!!
Category 3 Water
Contains pathogenic agents and is grossly unsanitary which includes raw sewage and other contaminated water sources, such as flooding from sea water, ground surface water and rising water from rivers or streams.
Any occupants that are immune – compromised, have respiratory illness or allergies, under the age of 2 or the elderly are at a higher risk of illness from prolonged exposure to Category 3 water.
It is recommended you call our emergency hotline at 1-866-874-5632 to have our certified professional technicians to remove the category 3 water contamination fr om your home.
(ABC 6 NEWS) — If you have a mold issue in your home, ignoring it will only make the problem worse. Exposure to mold can cause several health problems, especially respiratory ailments.
This makes it very important to eliminate any mold from your home, and to hire the right company to take care of the job.
“There are generally two types of test. One is a lift test, where a sample is taken from a suspected area of staining that is not quite fore sure that it is mold. The other, is an air sampling. It is to determine the level of spores that are in the air in a particular area of a home, or crawl, or attic, ” says Ron Porter a mold remover.
For some, getting rid of mold can be costly.
“When we determine the cost, we look at the significance of the problem, the difficulty of the access, because many of these attics and crawl spaces are most difficult to enter and really the square footage of the home that would require labor and the product that we are using.”
Here are a few tips on hiring the right professional to get rid of your mold problem.
Check their credentials. Check to see if they have certification from organizations such as the Institute of Inspection, or a Cleaning and Restoration Certificate.
Don’t make a decision under pressure. Some companies will try offer a discount right away, pressuring the homeowner to act immediately.
And be sure to involve a third party to do the analyze the test results.
And to stop mold before it becomes an issue, be sure to have a ventilation system in place in you basement.
Fix any cracks or leaks found in the foundation of your home.
Be sure to keep your personal belongings or furniture organized while you are storing them.
Another tip to prevent from mold growth is to keep your HVAC systems clean. Be sure to keep your air ducts, heating systems, air conditioning systems, and filters clean and changed regularly.
Damage to your home or personal property – even a small loss – can be an emotional and confusing experience. Here are some tips to assist you in resolving your claim:
- Immediately after a Homeowner Loss, Protect yourself and others. Always be careful before entering a damaged building. Report downed power lines gas leaks to the utility company. Keep electricity off if there is standing water in the house. Never touch electrical components while standing in water. Contact your carrier, and if possible have your policy number handy. Make note of your Claim Handler’s name and telephone as soon as you have it.
- Report Your Loss, If you have a loss over the weekend or in the middle of the night, you do not have to wait until Monday or the next morning to get the claim process started. Most if not all carriers repesentitives are available 24/7.
- Protect Your Property, Take resposible steps to protect your property from further damage.
- Prepare a List of Damaged or Lost Items, Keep damaged items until your Claim Handler has visted your home, and you should photograph and/or videotape the damage for further documentation.
- If You Need to Relocate, Keep Your Receipts, If you home is unsafe or the damage is so extensive that you cannot live there, keep records of all additional expenses you incur as a result.
- Complete and Return Your Claim Forms, After you have reported your claim, your Claim Handler will send you important information to assist you and the claim forms that will be necessary for you to complete and return within a certain number of days. Fill them out and return as soon as possible.
- How Your Claim Will Be Paid, Any advance payments will be applied to the total settlement amount. As agreements are reached on the value of your damaged property, additional checks may be issued. Your deductible and any applicable depreciation will be deducted from the total cost of your loss up to the limit of your policy. If you have a morage on your home, the check for repairs to the dwelling will be made out to both you and the morage lender. In these cases, the morage lender will have to endorse the check. Your morage lender may put the money in an escrow account and pay for the repairs as the work is completed. Your morage lender may want to inspect the finished job before the final payment is released.
Federal storm watchers issued an updated 2011 Atlantic hurricane season outlook, raising the number of expected named storms from its pre-season outlook issued in May.
Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said they are more confident that 2011 will be an active Atlantic hurricane season. They now expect 3 to 5 of this season’s storms could turn into major Category 3 or above hurricanes, with winds in excess of 110 MPH. ” The atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean are primed for high hurricane activity during August through October”, said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center. “Storms through October will form more frequently and become more intense than we’ve seen so far this season.”
Key climate factors predicted in May continue to support an active season. These include: the tropical multi-decadal signal, which in 1995 has brought favorable ocean and atmospheric conditions, leading to more active seasons; exceptionally warm Atlantic ocean temperatures (3rd warmest on record); and the possible redevelopment of La Nina. Reduced vertical wind shear and lower air pressure across the tropical Atlantic also favor an active season.
Based on these conditions and on climate model forecasts, the confidence for an above-normal season has increased from 65% in May to 85%. Also, the expected number of named storms has increased from 12-18 in May to 14-19, and the expected number of hurricanes has increased from 6-10 in May to 7-10.
The Atlantic basin has already prduced 6 tropical storms this season: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily and Irene. All eyes this week are on Irene, which continues to develop and move towards the East Coast of the U.S.
The last hurricane to make landfall was Ike in 2008. Last year saw above-normal hurricane activity, but none made landfall in the U.S.
August through October are peak months of the Atlantic hurricane season, and officals are urging people not to be lured into a false sense of security by the lack of hurricanes so far this year.
Understanding the categories of water damage is the first step in identifying the health risks and correct mitigation steps to restore the hygiene of the property (both structure and contents), setting the foundations for repairs that will allow for safe occupancy and restoration of your insured’s property back to normal conditions.
Categorizing the contamination hazards of water in a damaged structure is crucial to providing an accurate loss assessment and scope.
Water damage is divided into three general categories:
1.Category 1 – Clean Water
2.Category 2 – Gray Water
3.Category 3 – Black Water
Note that the color of the water is not relevant, these are just descriptors used to qualify the risk characteristics associated with hygiene, very real health risks. Relevant factors include such considerations as the origination of the water source, length of time wet, history of the structure, and other environmental impacts from within the structure (such as chemicals like pesticides, fertilizers, animal feces, paint and thinners, fuel oil, rodent poisons, previous water events resulting in pre-existing moldy materials – really think about the hazardous things some store in their basements…and commercial hazards are even more numerous).
The IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification) is a governing agent providing accepted industry standards of care and training guidelines. The standard provides the following definitions which guide professionals in making accurate risk assessments and identifying scope parameters associated with water damage mitigation.
Category 1 Clean water originates from a source that does not pose substantial harm to humans if the clean up is performed within 24 hours of occurrence. Clean water sources may include, but are not limited to: broken water supply lines, melting ice or snow, falling rainwater, broken toilet tanks and toilet bowls that do not contain contaminants or additives. Clean water that has contact with structural surfaces and content materials may deteriorate in cleanliness as it dissolves or mixes with soils and other contaminants, and as time elapses.
Category 2 Gray water contains a significant level of contamination and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if consumed by or exposed to humans. Gray water carries microorganisms and nutrients for microorganisms. Examples of gray water sources may include, but are not necessarily limited to: discharge from dishwashers or washing machines, overflows from washing machines, overflows from toilet bowls with some urine (no feces), sump pump failures, seepage due to hydrostatic pressure, broken aquariums and punctured water beds. Gray water may contain chemicals, bio-contaminants (fungal, bacterial, viral, algae) and other forms of contamination including physical hazards. Time and temperature aggravate Category 2 water contamination levels significantly. Gray water in flooded structures that remains untreated for longer those 48 hours may change to Category 3.
Category 3 Black water contains pathogenic agents and is grossly unsanitary. Any persons with compromised immune systems, respiratory problems or allergies, or who are under 2 years of age or elderly must remain off the job site until the building is judged safe for occupancy. Black water includes sewage and other contaminated water sources entering or affecting the indoor environment. Toilet backflows that originate from beyond the toilet trap is considered black water contamination, regardless of visible content or color. Category 3 water includes all forms of flooding from seawater, ground surface water and rising water from rivers or streams. Such water sources carry silt and organic matter into structures that create black water conditions. The water is considered to be Category 3 water in situations where structural materials and/or contents have been contaminated with such contaminants as pesticides, heavy metals, or toxic substances.
Water damage can be hazardous to human health if the proper, effective identification (Cat 1-3), along with professional evaluation and mitigation/ remediation are not implemented with care by knowledgeable professionals in the field of water damage mitigation. Personal Protective Equipment is a must for technicians, and consideration for the health and safety of occupants must be included in the mitigation effort. Your client may very well not recognize the grave risks associated with exposure to the water damage event they are experiencing, often blinded by the panic of the moment.
The IICRC Standard reads “… contamination associated with water damage presents a health risk to both occupants and restoration workers. “
Health effects associated with water damage include respiratory ailments, “ Bacteria and Fungi…can cause serious and potentially fatal lung infections in immunocompromised individuals.”
Category 1 and 2 Health Effects can include the following health symptoms:
•Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (lung tissue inflammation)
•Burning eyes, skin irritation
•Low grade inflammatory response
•Nausea, headache, fever
Category 3 water typically contains one or more of these hazards:
Bacteria – Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus (spore producing), Soil organisms – Thermoactinomyces, Streptomyces, Saccharopolyspora, Thermomonospora, Viruses – Rotovirus, Hepatitis A, Adenovirus, Norwalk-type Agent, Echovirus, Coxsackievirus, Parasites – Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium, Entamoeba histolytica, Balantidium colias well as Helminths – Nematodes (roundworms) and Cestodes (tapeworms). Health effects from exposure to these hazards can be disabling, even death dealing, and at best traumatic.
For Professional Residential & Commercial Disaster Recovery, Damage Restoration and Crime Scene Decontamination contact Rapid Remediation & Recovery by phone at 1-866-874-5632 or via email.
The fire cycle (combustible components, oxygen, ignition source) produces hundreds of chemicals in a damaged home or business. Typically, these combustion pollutants fall into two broad categories: oxides of nitrogen from burning organic components, and chlorine dioxide from burning synthetics. Also contained in most combustion soot are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are suspect carcinogens. Proper restoration of smoke-damaged structural materials and contents is of significant importance.
According to the Stanford Research Institute, combustion particulates range in size from 0.1 to 4 microns. By way of comparison, an average human hair is about 75 microns in diameter. To lend perspective to the importance of physical smoke removal, while particles 1 micron to 4 microns in size settle out of air in a matter of minutes or hours, anything smaller than 1 micron may remain suspended in respirable air indefinitely. Human bronchial passages contain ciliated surfaces designed to capture particles in the 10-micron range, and push them back into the throat where they are swallowed and eliminated through the digestive system. Anything smaller can penetrate deep into tender lung tissues where they encounter the alveoli. The alveoli are small sacks that remove oxygen from air in the lungs and transfer it into the bloodstream to oxygenate muscles and organs. At best, smoke particles less than 10 microns can irritate the alveoli; at worst, they may cause permanent scaring and diminished lung capacity, depending on the amount respired.
With the above considerations in mind, there are several recommended phases for resolving fire contamination, and corresponding potential health effects, by fire restorers:
Ventilation — The first phase begins with airing out the structure with positive ventilation, assuming reasonable weather conditions (i.e., heat, cold, humidity) in the geographical area. Obviously, extremes of heat and particularly cold, present occupant comfort limitations in occupied structures, and certainly freezing weather can damage water-bearing appliances or plumbing. Excess humidity from outside, when combined with combustion smoke, only accelerates the formation of acid residues, and extremes of heat and cold have an adverse impact on occupants and workers.
Isolation — Where a building has experienced a partial fire loss, it is prudent to initiate OSHA-mandated engineering controls, such as isolation barriers or containment with polyethylene sheeting where appropriate.
Air Management — Another engineering control on partial losses may involve controlled air management in much the same manner as would be appropriate during mold or sewage remediation (fungal or bacterial contamination). Of course, this assumes that the building can be contained and doesn’t have gaping holes in the roof or burned-out windows or doors.
PPE — Once OSHA-mandated engineering controls are in place, where possible, the second line of defense against particle contaminants is personal protective equipment (PPE). This may include chemical-resistant gloves, goggles, respirators and even protective clothing. The protection afforded by N-95 respirators is marginal, especially where 0.1-micron to 4-micron particles are concerned (ref. Appendix B, IICRC S520); therefore, we specifically recommend tight-fitting face pieces with HEPA filters worn by medically evaluated and fit-tested persons, at a minimum.
HEPA Filtration — High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters on air filtration equipment is appropriate during fire restoration to capture 99.97 percent of particles at 0.3 microns. This equipment should be set up initially in areas where extensive or prolonged work (e.g., pack out), or demolition is on-going.
HEPA Vacuuming — While ventilation or HEPA filtration may help in removing particulates from the air, HEPA vacuuming prior to detergent cleaning is appropriate to capture and remove fine particles from surfaces before they can be suspended in respirable air. HEPA vacuuming also removes fine particles from cracks and crevices where it may not be possible to reach them with wet cleaning. It is particularly important to attend to the interior surfaces of HVAC ductwork and mechanical components, which will be circulating respirable air on a continuing basis. smoke
HAZMAT Abatement — In older homes where demolition of fire-damaged structural components is necessary and where hazardous materials, such as lead or asbestos, are present, following the implementation of engineering controls, including containment and positive air management, protected abatement workers usually are required to use adequate wetting during demolition followed by HEPA vacuum cleaning techniques. Unless properly trained, certified and licensed in HAZMAT abatement and disposal, it may be best to hire subcontract personnel to perform this important task.
Cleaning — Detergent wiping, while not an efficient method for removing particulates, aids in restoring surfaces to a visually acceptable pre-loss condition, where possible.
Who is at greater risk when exposed to mold?
Exposure to mold is not healthy for anyone inside buildings. It is important to quickly identify and correct any moisture sources before health problems develop. The following individuals appear to be at higher risk for adverse health effects of molds:
Infants and children
Immune compromised patients (people with HIV infection, cancer chemotherapy, liver disease, etc.)
People with these special concerns should consult a physician if they are having health problems.
What symptoms are common?
Allergic reactions may be the most common health problem of mold exposure. Typical symptoms reported (alone or in combination) include:
respiratory problems, such as wheezing, and difficulty in breathing
nasal and sinus congestion
eyes-burning, watery, reddened, blurry vision, light sensitivity
dry, hacking cough
nose and throat irritation
shortness of breath
central nervous system problems (constant headaches, memory problems, and mood changes)
aches and pains
Are some molds more hazardous than others?
Allergic persons vary in their sensitivities to mold, both as to amount and type needed to cause reactions. In addition, certain types of molds can produce toxins, called mycotoxins, that the mold uses to inhibit or prevent the growth of other organisms. Mycotoxins are found in both living and dead mold spores. Materials permeated with mold need to be removed, even after they are disinfected with cleaning solutions. Allergic and toxic effects can remain in dead spores. Exposure to mycotoxins may present a greater hazard than that of allergenic or irritative molds. Mycotoxins have been found in homes, agricultural settings, food, and office buildings.
DETECTION OF MOLD
How can I tell if I have mold in my house?
If you can see mold, or if there is an earthy or musty odor, you can assume you have a mold problem. Allergic individuals may experience the symptoms listed above. Look for previous water damage. Visible mold growth is found underneath materials where water has damaged surfaces, or behind walls. Look for discoloration and leaching from plaster.
Imagine coming home to a flooded basement and a leaking living room, with most of your favorite possessions floating out of the front door. Fumbling to remember any water damage repair guys you may have known, your eyes will, at the same time, be popping out of its socket trying to figure out if your home had been hit by a deluge while you were away.
In the United States alone, damage accounts for over 25 percent of all home insurance claims, with more than 37 percent homeowners admitting to loss of property due to extensive water damage. All sources of this damage leave tell-tale signs around the place. The trick lies in being able to detect these signs and initiating water damage repair before it is too late.
Water stains on the ceilings or a wet spot under the kitchen sink could develop into something bigger, such as a weakened roof or a rotten floor board. So learn to recognize the first sign of damage which is almost always evident for everyone to notice but rarely catches the attention of homeowners until all hell has been broken loose in the living room. The most obvious signs of moisture build-up that can eventually escalate to damage are drippy faucets or shower heads, water stains on the roof or walls, damp surface areas, unusual humidity or coolness in a particular room and a distinct odor of mildew. If your home or a particular room in the house begins to smell of molds, it is high time you hire a Water Damage Repair Company to arrest the initial stages of destruction.
Some believe the expertise of a Damage Restoration Company is required only during floods or similar natural disasters. Even trivial water leaks that could lead to a mammoth destruction should be brought to the attention of restoration companies who will not only help you identify the source of the leak but also restore your property to its pre-incident state. There are plenty of damage restoration companies in the U.S. and the services they offer are based on reliable restoration principles coupled with research, practical experience and extensive consultation gathered from numerous sources. Most of these companies provide water damage repair services, mold remediation service, flood damage cleanup, interior restoration as well as fire and smoke cleanup for both residential and commercial properties.