How To Catalog Your Stuff

Catalog Your Stuff: Create a Home Inventory List Before You Need It

Imagine your home is destroyed by some catastrophic event. You can take some comfort knowing your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy covers the contents – in other words, all your beloved your stuff. A contractor or public adjuster can go through your house and estimate the damage to the building, but, it’s pretty difficult for an outsider to list every item that once occupied your house. It’s going to be up to you to make sure the list is comprehensive, so you can collect what you’re entitled to in your insurance claim.

As public adjusters, we recommend creating a list of your personal property and storing the list in a safe place. Your list should include photos, a description, where and when you purchased the item, and what you paid for it. 

Do it before you need it.

Imagine having to list every single item in your home from a pencil and can of shaving cream, to furniture, wardrobe, personal papers, and books after a fire has destroyed everything. It’s time-consuming and emotionally draining. The photo above was once a beautiful family room. Can you tell what all of the contents used to look like? That’s why it’s best to do the contents list before you need it.

Sound overwhelming? It is. But there are a few tools that can help you out:

  • Microsoft Excel templates: Open up Microsoft Excel, go to File>New from Template. Then type Home Inventory into the template search.
  • Look at some samples: This will give you an idea of what one should look like. Here’s one from our favorite site, United Policyholders.
  • Hire a personal property inventory specialist. Google it and find someone in your area. A little team will show up at your house with a voice recorder, go through all of your stuff, and type it all up including dollar values. As public adjusters for one of our clients, we used one of these organizations to list a total loss and there were thousands of items on the list. This service cost about $2,000 which wasn’t cheap, but was well worth it for that claim. But even though we did that, our client still had to go through that list with a fine-toothed comb to make sure everything was listed and correct.
  • There’s an app for that! United Policyholders created an app for your home inventory. It’s pretty cool. You can store photos and everything.

Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, Inc. has more than fifty years in the insurance adjusting field and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. We have adjusted every type of property claim there is: fire, storms, water, robbery, you name it. Licensed in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Florida, and Texas, we can handle your claim from start to finish. Contact us today via email or telephone 508-588-4243.

 

Lightning Strikes And Destroys A Home

This is a picture of the living room of a rental house that was destroyed by fire last fall. The tenants, a young couple with two small children, had just moved in and bought all new furniture. With the excitement of getting their new home set up, they hadn’t had a chance to buy renter’s insurance.

But then, lightning struck – literally. The house was struck by lightning in the middle of the night and burned for a while on the outside before it was discovered. The mom heard strange crackling noises and, thinking her boys were up, got up to tell them to go back to bed. What she discovered was a lot more menacing. The entire front of the house was on fire. She was able to get the family out safely, thank goodness, but the fire spread throughout the house and destroyed the place and all of the family’s possessions. Inspection of the property the next day revealed their beautiful new rental house, their new furniture, clothing, toys, computers, electronics, video games, food, and books blackened and burned. What the fire didn’t get, the water from the fire hoses did.

The building itself was covered under the landlord’s policy. He filed a claim and, with the help of Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, was made whole again. Unfortunately, even a public adjuster could not help the tenants. The young family needed to relocate and rebuild their lives from scratch.

You never expect something like this to happen – struck by lightning?? What are the odds? The moral of the story is: have insurance before you move in. It’s not as exciting as decorating, but it’s pretty great when you have a claim.

Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, Inc. has more than fifty years in the insurance adjusting field and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. We have adjusted every type of property claim there is: fire, storms, water, robbery, you name it. Licensed in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Florida, and Texas, we can handle your claim from start to finish. Contact us today via email or telephone 508-588-4243.

 

Take Some Time & Find The Right Public Adjuster

Your relationship with your public adjuster is an important, and possibly, a long-term one. The right fit is essential for a smooth and expeditious process. You need to be comfortable with his or her personality and communication style. You need to like each other.

Public adjusters can show up at your door while your house is still on fire and try to push you into signing a contract. These are not the people to go with. Instead, take a breath, ask for recommendations, and do your research. Find someone who has been used by someone you know who had a positive experience. Was the PA a good communicator? Was he compassionate and patient with your questions and concerns? Did she return your phone calls? If you don’t have a friend with a good referral, take a look at the Better Business Bureau website and read ratings and reviews.

Find a public adjuster who has a good amount of experience. Handling claims is a process that involves nuance that can only be mastered with practice. Your public adjuster should have several years adjusting insurance claims or dealing with insurance policies. An experienced public adjuster also has developed relationships in the industry that could help cut through red tape with the insurance company and with any vendors necessary.

Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, Inc. has more than fifty years in the insurance adjusting field and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. We have adjusted every type of property claim there is: fire, storms, water, robbery, you name it. Licensed in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Florida, and Texas, we can handle your claim from start to finish. Contact us today via email or telephone 508-588-4243.

Take some time and find the right public adjuster

How to find the right public adjuster

Your relationship with your public adjuster is an important, and possibly, a long-term one. The right fit is essential for a smooth and expeditious process. You need to be comfortable with his or her personality and communication style. You need to like each other.

Public adjusters can show up at your door while your house is still on fire and try to push you into signing a contract. These are not the people to go with. Instead, take a breath, ask for recommendations, and do your research. Find someone who has been used by someone you know who had a positive experience. Was the PA a good communicator? Was he compassionate and patient with your questions and concerns? Did she return your phone calls? If you don’t have a friend with a good referral, take a look at the Better Business Bureau website and read ratings and reviews.

Find a public adjuster who has a good amount of experience. Handling claims is a process that involves nuance that can only be mastered with practice. Your public adjuster should have several years adjusting insurance claims or dealing with insurance policies. An experienced public adjuster also has developed relationships in the industry that could help cut through red tape with the insurance company and with any vendors necessary.

Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, Inc. has more than fifty years in the insurance adjusting field and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. We have adjusted every type of property claim there is: fire, storms, water, robbery, you name it. Licensed in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Florida, and Texas, we can handle your claim from start to finish. Contact us today via email or telephone 508-588-4243.

What is Overhead and Profit?

When you receive the adjuster’s breakdown of your insurance claim, look for the line items Overhead and Profit. Commonly known as O&P, this covers the cost of a general contractor to oversee your reconstruction.

Depending on the size of your claim, your repairs may take several tradespeople to complete. Examples of tradespeople are painters, wallpaper hangers, carpenters, masons, electricians, and plumbers. If your reconstruction needs at least three trades, a general contractor is considered necessary to coordinate and supervise the job. Whether you want to hire one is up to you, but you’re entitled to be paid for the expense.

O&P covers the general contractor’s time and expenses and is usually calculated as a percentage of the overall cost of the job. Overhead covers the cost of equipment, facilities, and operations for the job. Profit is how the general contractor earns a living.

We often see the O&P omitted and if you don’t know you’re entitled to it, you won’t know to ask for it. Take a look at the adjuster’s summary, usually on the last page of the estimate, and check for the line items Overhead and Profit. If you don’t see it and can’t find it anywhere else in the estimate, ask the adjuster to add it. This is a legitimate expense and you are entitled to collect it.

Contact Us Today!

At Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, we offer many services, and can truly help you throughout the course of your claim. We’ll make sure you get your O&P and everything else you’re entitled to. Contact us today via email, or by giving us a call at 508-588-4243.

Be Prepared for the 2018 Hurricane Season

A hurricane can be a traumatic experience. And if your property is damaged, it’s the beginning of another ordeal – the insurance claim process. Hurricane season lasts from June 1 through November 1, so we still have a way to go. The 2018 season is predicted to be average or above. We learned some valuable lessons from Winter Storm Riley that we can apply to a hurricane claim and here are a few tips to prepare yourself for a possible insurance claim.

Know your policy

The best thing you can do before a hurricane hits is to take a look at your policy to make sure you won’t have any surprises should you need to file a claim.

Hurricane claims can be complicated because there can be two causes of loss: windstorm and flooding. Windstorm will be covered by your homeowner’s policy. Flooding is covered by the federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you haven’t purchased flood insurance, you may not be covered for flood. Here’s a blog post we wrote about it.

To add to the complexity, some policies have a separate deductible for wind claims, which is higher than the regular deductible. You may not even know that you have a different windstorm deductible and you don’t want to find out after a loss. It’s either a set amount or may be a percentage of your dwelling coverage. For example, if your dwelling coverage is $400,000 and you have a 2% wind deductible, your total deductible will be $8,000. After Riley, we had several clients whose wind deductibles amounted to over $12,000! Sometimes the wind deductible can zero out your whole claim.

Take a look at your policy’s declaration page and find the deductible. If you have a separate windstorm deductible, it will be written somewhere nearby. Here’s another blog post about it.

Prepare for your physical safety

Aside from preparing for an insurance claim, be sure to prepare for your physical safety. Have a hurricane kit at the ready and know your evacuation route. Things happen really fast in a hurricane and you need to be ready at a moment’s notice.

A Guide to Smoke and Fire Damage and the Claim Process

Big or small, a fire in your home is pretty scary. And the damage fire can cause is scarier still. Contact your public adjuster as soon as possible, even while the fire is still burning. He or she can take a huge burden off your plate as you take care of your family.

Right after the fire, you’ll need to protect the property from further damage and secure it from trespassers. This is done by board-up specialists. The public adjuster can handle the board-up specialist for you, from directing them during the board-up, to billing the insurance company, and board removal.

Another thing public adjusters can help you with is securing alternate living arrangements. The options include a trailer on the property, a hotel, or even an apartment with your choice of rented furnishings.

Cleaning up after a fire is best left to professionals. Not only is entering a home after a fire danger, soot and smoke require special chemicals and tools to remove. Your public adjuster can help secure and manage remediation and demo specialists for you.

A public adjuster can be with you through the life of your claim process, which is always longer and more stressful than you think it’s going to be. 

Contact Us Today!

At Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, we offer many services, and can truly help you throughout the course of your claim. Contact us today via email, or by giving us a call at 508-588-4243 .

Sump Pumps & Massachusetts

Sump Pump in your basement? The sump pump endorsement is a MUST.

During the spring Nor’easters, plenty of folks in eastern Massachusetts, including myself, experienced prolonged power outages. It was bad enough not to be able to charge our devices, but my sump pump shut down allowing the water to flow out into the basement.

I said to myself, “Bummer. But it seems like a pretty straightforward, covered claim.” Wrong! Unbeknownst to me, I didn’t have the special sump pump endorsement on my policy. Without that endorsement, if the sump pump shuts down for ANY reason, you are out of luck.

I took a look at the Exclusions section of my policy and was horrified to see right there in black and white that water which overflows or is otherwise discharged from a sump, sump pump, or related equipment is not covered. So, even though the power in the whole neighborhood was out through no fault of my own, my sump pump failure was not covered.

I found it counterintuitive for this to be excluded. A homeowner mitigates risk of flooding by installing the sump pump in the first place. A power outage occurs, and the sump pump fails. It has nothing to do with poor maintenance or lack of due diligence. But apparently, insurance companies consider this such a common occurrence, they decided to make it an endorsement rather than a standard coverage.

Chalking it up to a good learning experience, I called my insurance agent and added the endorsement to my policy the next day. It wouldn’t help me for this incident but would if it ever happens again. The endorsement provides limited coverage for sump pump failure – usually $2,500 or $5,000 – and it should cost less than $100 per year. If you have a sump pump, you should have this endorsement. Your agent may not ask you if you have one (mine didn’t), so you need to let them know. Check your current policy. If it’s not there, add it. You don’t want to be surprised after the fact like I was.

Contact Us Today!

At Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, we offer many services, and can truly help you throughout the course of your claim. Contact us today via email, or by giving us a call at 508-588-4243 .

Should I Hire a Public Adjuster or an Attorney?

Public adjusters’ area of expertise comes into play during the life of a normal insurance claim. Public adjusters have experience in all aspects of all types of insurance claims and will create a strategy for your claim that will bring you the best possible results.

What Does a Public Adjuster Do?

A public adjuster is a licensed insurance claims professional who advocates for the insured. Public adjusters have many responsibilities to your claim:

  • Determining whether your claim is worth presenting to the insurance company
  • Preparing a comprehensive estimate of damage
  • Managing the claims process including communications with your insurance company and their adjuster
  • Negotiating on your behalf to get you the best settlement possible

I’ve been handling the claim myself, but the insurance company is not giving me satisfaction. What now?

It’s not too late to hire a public adjuster. He or she can take over the claim and usually will bring about a satisfactory settlement.

When your public adjuster’s efforts have been exhausted, and the insurance company is still denying your claim, your only recourse may be legal action. Only an attorney can represent you in court – not a public adjuster. Taking the insurance company to court is uncommon, but it does happen. But generally, a public adjuster will be able to handle your claim from start to finish.

Contact Us Today!

At Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, we offer many services, and can truly help you throughout the course of your claim. Contact us today via email, or by giving us a call at 508-588-4243 .

How Can I Place a Water Damage Claim?

Water Damage Claim?

Water damage claims are the source of consternation for claimants. It’s probable that your policy doesn’t cover some types of water damage. It depends where the water came from and what caused it.

Where Did the Water Come From?

If the water came from above the ground, you’re probably covered under your regular policy. An example is a water comes in through a hole caused by a covered peril (like a tree falling on your roof in a windstorm). The resulting water damage is covered. If water came in from the ground outside the house, or below it, you could be out of luck unless you have a federal flood insurance policy. If the flood came from inside the house, then it depends on what caused it.

What Caused It?

Following are some causes of water damage and whether they’re covered.

  • Washing machine overflowed: probably covered.
  • Sump pump failed: you need a special provision on your policy for that.
  • Water damage caused by ice dams: probably covered.
  • Boiler broke down and flooded the basement: probably covered depending on how the boiler was maintained.
  • Frozen pipes burst: probably covered if you’ve made every effort to maintain heat inside the building.
  • Air conditioner leak from your attic: probably covered.
  • Leak from an old roof: the interior damage is probably covered, the roof is not.

You get the idea – water damage is not black and white. Knowing the cause of the water damage and knowing what your policy covers are keys to putting in a good claim. Remember, just calling the insurance company about a claim puts a black mark on your record – even if the claim is denied. You’ll want to be sure about the claim before you call the company.

Contact Us Today!

Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters offers many services and can truly help you throughout the entire life-cycle of a claim. Contact us today by sending us an email, or by giving us a call at 508.588.4243.