What happened in the Halifax, Nova Scotia explosion of 1917?

On December 6, 1917, two ships collided in the harbor in Halifax, Nova Scotia causing one of the worst explosions in history. The Mont Blanc, which contained a cargo of explosives heading to France for use in World War I, exploded with such force that the 3,121 tons of her iron hull vaporized and shot up more than 2,000 feet. This was followed by a tsunami of sea water that swept over the city. Twelve-thousand buildings within a 16-mile radius were damaged. Almost 2,000 Haligonians were killed by the blast, debris, fires, collapsed buildings, and the tsunami, and possibly 9,000 injured. As if that wasn’t enough, within twenty-four hours, a major blizzard hit Halifax, hampering rescue and relief efforts.

The town before the explosion

Who was at fault?

Investigations determined that both ships were equally responsible for the explosion. Therefore, if this happened today, both ships’ insurance companies would split any payouts. This is called a “third-party” claim since it’s being paid by a third party rather than by the claimant or their own insurance company.

The causes of loss

There are several causes of loss in this case and differentiating them is important to who pays for what. The explosion, which caused fire and debris damage, water from the tsunami, and damage caused by the blizzard. Damage resulting directly from the explosion, including the tsunami, would be covered by the third-party insurance companies. If the tsunami had been naturally occurring, it would not be covered since water traveling across the ground and “wave wash” are not covered by a regular homeowner’s policy.

Any claim resulting from the blizzard that came in the days after the explosion would be covered by the individual homeowners’ policies.

How could a Public Adjuster help in this case?

Third party claims can be hard to collect on in a timely and satisfactory manner. It’s often much easier to file a first-party claim with your own insurance company who will then subrogate against the third party after their own insured has been satisfied. A public adjuster would represent the claimants in this case. A public adjuster can also help with placing a family in an alternative residence for the duration of the claim process and the reconstruction, and a public adjuster can help with remediation vendors. Having a public adjuster manage the claim allows the survivors to move forward with their lives and deal with the trauma of the explosion and its aftermath.

Interesting fact

The Boston Red Cross and the Massachusetts Public Safety Committee sent a delegation to Halifax shortly after the explosion. In appreciation, Halifax sent a Christmas tree to the City of Boston in 1917. In 1971, the gift was revived and has been continued every year since.

Christmas Tree In Boston

For more information 

This is a great little video illustrating the lead-up to the disaster. https://youtu.be/OSuX9RvLq54

A great book about the disaster and its aftermath is Curse of the Narrows: the Halifax Disaster of 1917 by Laura M. MacDonald.

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 at 508-588-4243.

Cocoanut Grove Fire Anniversary

What was the Cocoanut Grove Fire?

Today marks the 76th anniversary of the most devastating nightclub fire in US history, The Cocoanut Grove fire which took place in Boston on November 28, 1942. The popular nightclub, located on Piedmont Street in the Bay Village neighborhood, offered patrons several levels of a tropical party atmosphere with music, dancing, dining, and cocktails. While the club’s legal capacity was 460, there was an estimated 1,000 Thanksgiving weekend club-goers there the night of the fire.

The fire, which was deemed of “unknown origin,” started at about 10:15 pm and spread quickly through the Melody Lounge on the lower level of the club. Materials used in the club’s décor and the structure of the building created a perfect environment for the fire which moved faster than the patrons could escape. Non-functioning or hidden exits, and the single revolving door at the front of the building which became inoperable as the panicked crowd charged the exit, made escape almost impossible. Many guests were overcome by smoke while still in their seats. Four-hundred and ninety-two people lost their lives.

Insurance implications

As a result of this incident, fire safety laws in Boston and throughout the US were changed to ensure the wellbeing of nightclub patrons. If this happened today, and the owners of the Cocoanut Grove had fire mitigation in place but a fire broke out anyway, the building losses would be covered. Any damage to surrounding and adjacent buildings would be covered by their own insurance policies.

How could a public adjuster help?

A public adjuster could represent any of the building owners in their building damage claims, including the owners of the Cocoanut Grove. A public adjuster would estimate the extent of the damage and the degree of coverage and act as the building owner’s representative to the insurance company. A public adjuster would also help manage remediation vendors, including emergency board-up the night of the fire. If business interruption is an issue, the public adjuster could manage that part of the claim as well.

Get more information about the Cocoanut Grove fire

Here’s a little video of experts discussing the fire: https://youtu.be/Q0BMsefS8fY

If you want to read more about the fire, check out a book called Fire in the Grove, by John C. Esposito. It’s a great book with highly detailed accounts of the people involved, the club, that night’s events, and the aftermath of the fire.

Interesting facts

Along with several other safety laws enacted as a result of the Cocoanut Grove fire, a lesser known law is that no club in Boston can ever use the name Cocoanut Grove, forever.

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.

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 .