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.

Leaky Roofs and Insurance Coverage

When you start to see water stains forming on your ceiling, the most obvious cause is a leaky roof. Is this damage covered by your insurance? The answer is probably. Can you get a new roof? The answer is maybe.

Causes of Water Damage

A few things can cause water to come into the house through the roof, like a windstorm, ice dams, a fallen tree, and openings caused by normal wear and tear. Interior damage resulting from any of these causes is usually covered by your homeowner’s policy (although commercial policies may be different). But what about the roof?

General Rule of Thumb for Roof Damage

If your roof is damaged by some unforeseen event, like a windstorm, the roof itself, and the resulting interior damage are usually covered. If water gets in through an opening created by the roof’s normal wear and tear, the resulting damage inside is usually covered, but the roof is not.

If you are able to collect on your roof, you may be entitled to a whole slope to make sure the shingles all match.

Contact Us Today!

Water damage is very prevalent in New England during the spring. Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters offers many services and can truly help you throughout the entire life-cycle of a claim. Contact us today for help with water damage claims by sending us an email, or by giving us a call at 508.588.4243!

Don’t Let a High Wind Deductible Blow Your Claim

As we work through all of the claims that came in from March’s Nor’easters, we have had to share disappointing news with some of our clients. 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. You don’t want to find out after a loss.

Why Do They Do This?

When there’s a big wind event, like March’s Nor’easters, insurance companies won’t just have a claim from you; they’ll have one from practically everybody else in the affected area. Higher wind deductibles offset the financial burden that comes with having to pay several losses all at once.

How Do You Know If You Have A Higher Wind Deductible?

Look at your declarations page, usually the first page of the policy – the one with your name and address on it. You’ll see your regular deductible and nearby, the wind deductible if you have one. Your wind deductible may be a flat figure, like $2,000. Or it may have a percentage of 2%. The percentage is of the limit of liability for your dwelling. For example, if your dwelling coverage is $200,000, your 2% windstorm deductible is $4,000.

Check your Policy.

Higher wind deductibles fall into the bad surprise category, especially if the deductible is higher than the actual claim, in which case, you get zero. Take a look at your policy and find out if you have a wind deductible. If you do, contact your agent to see if there’s any way to lower it. With hurricane season right around the corner, don’t compound the trauma of a loss with the shock of a zero-dollar settlement.

Contact Us Today!

Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters offers many services and can truly help you understand your policy. Contact us today by sending us an email, or by giving us a call at 508.588.4243!

Late Winter Storms & Damage Costs

Winter storms, whether they are snow and ice related, or water and wind-related, cause billions of dollars’ worth of damage in the United States every year. Therefore, it is crucial to understand your homeowner’s policy to know what you are covered for. Flooding is one of the things that are not always covered by a regular homeowner’s policy, so if you live in an area where flooding happens even occasionally, you may want to invest in flood insurance.

Common Claims in Winter

Roof Failure: Due to the snow and ice of the winters in New England, we often see that the weight of this snow and ice can cause a lot of problems with roofing. One way to prevent this is by hiring a professional to clean heavy snow off your roof.

Trees Falling: Trees fall during the winter due to high winds or the weight of snow. Fallen trees can wreak havoc on your house, shed, pool, fence, and backyard. Tree claims are usually covered.

Sump Pump Failure Caused by Power Outage: We have a ton of these claims this month and it’s hard to tell people it’s probably not covered. Any type of sump pump failure, even if it’s due to a power failure outside of your home, is not covered unless you have a special endorsement on the policy.

Ice Dams: Ice dams can cause interior water damage. We saw a lot of this type of damage back in 2015 during all of the blizzards. Damage caused by ice dams is usually covered.

Frozen Pipes: The water flowing through your pipes can freeze which can cause them to burst and create a flood. This type of flooding is generally covered unless you haven’t maintained an appropriate level of heat in the house.

House Fires: While seeming like the least obvious claim that you’d have to make in the winter, house fires are common because of the increased use in heating and lighting systems in the wintertime.

Contact Us Today!

At Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, we offer 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!

Springtime Damage & Public Adjusters

Springtime is a time for new beginnings. The snow starts to melt and we’re on our way to flowers, summer, and sunshine. But this blissful outlook can flip like a switch when spring actually begins in full force. The spring thaw and the storms that typically occur during this time period can cause a lot of damage to your home, and you need to make sure you’re covered for whatever happens.

What Kind of Coverage Do I Need?

The first thing you should do when getting new insurance for your home is read the whole policy through to know exactly what you are covered for. Not all policies are the same. Don’t be surprised at the worst possible moment. Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters can look over your policy to ensure you’re covered for any event.

What Can Cause Damage in the Spring?

Trees

Trees have a tendency to fall at the most inconvenient times and in the most inconvenient places. During storms in the springtime, it’s common for trees to fall, causing damage to homes as well as backyards and pool areas. Fallen trees are generally covered by your homeowner’s policy.

Hail

Hail can cause very bad roof damage, as well as damage to your siding. Damage caused by hail is generally covered.

Water Damage

bob estimating water damageA spring thaw could bring flooding which can devastate a home. Remember, some flooding is only covered by federal flood insurance, so be sure to double check this coverage so that you can be properly compensated in the event of a flood.

At Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, we offer 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!

What Is An Adjuster?

The claims process is a confusing one. The person you work most closely with is the adjuster. But what does an adjuster do? To shed some light on this, I want to define what an adjuster is and the different types of adjusters there are.

Why are they called adjusters?

Growing up with a dad who is a public adjuster, I never understood why the word “adjuster” was used. What are they adjusting? They are adjusting the amounts of money each element of the claim is worth according to age, amount of damage, condition, what your contractor charged, what the prices are where you live. During the claim process, the numbers jump all over the place according to these conditions. The adjuster is adjusting those numbers to fit the claim.

There are a few different kinds of adjusters.

The person who comes to your house to estimate the damage is the adjuster. Some companies employ their own adjusters and some outsource the job to independent adjuster organizations. From the claimant’s perspective, they perform the exact same function and would be your contact person for the duration of the claim.

You may also hear the terms inside adjuster or outside adjuster. The outside adjuster is the person who comes to your house, whether he or she is an insurance company-employed adjuster or an independent. The inside adjuster is the person who deals with the claim from the insurance company’s office – a liaison between the outside adjuster and the other parts of the company involved in the claim. Inside adjusters are employees of the insurance company.

Public Adjuster

A public adjuster is hired independently by you and acts as your representation against the insurance company adjuster. A public adjuster handles the whole claim process and will maximize your settlement and save you a lot of time and aggravation. The public adjuster will level the playing field between you and the insurance company providing you with the peace of mind that you’re getting the best possible settlement.

Is the insurance company adjuster my friend?

The insurance company adjuster may be the nicest person in the world and do an excellent job. But keep in mind, these folks work for the insurance company whether they’re independent or company employees. They represent the company, not you. They have the power in the situation which may or may not be to your detriment. It’s definitely not to your advantage. But your public adjuster is your friend. Your public adjuster represents you and works for your benefit.

At Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters, we offer many services, and can truly help you throughout the course of your claim. Contact us today by filling out our contact form, or by giving us a call at 508.588.4243.

What Does Additional Living Expenses Mean?

Additional Living Expenses coverage (ALE) helps you maintain your standard of living after a covered loss.

additional living expenseWhat does Additional Living Expenses mean?

As a standard part of a homeowners’ policy, Additional Living Expenses (ALE) reimburse the insured for the cost of maintaining their standard of living after experiencing a loss. ALE applies to expenses following a covered loss that exceed the insured’s normal expenses prior to the loss.

For example, ALE would cover an insured’s hotel bill while fire damage to the home is being repaired. Here are some other examples of what Additional Living Expenses cover:

  • Any extra gas used if it takes longer to get to work from your temporary living quarters
  • Any expenses for dining out if you can’t use your kitchen
  • Costs related to moving, furniture rental, and storage
  • Laundry if you need to use a laundromat
  • Any extra utility fees over what you usually pay

It will only cover additional expenses

The operative word here is “additional.” For example, your kitchen is unusable and you need to eat out at times you normally wouldn’t. Once you make a claim, the insurance company will look at what you usually pay for food. From here, they adjust accordingly and then reimburse you for anything additional you needed to spend on eating out. It only applies to that over and above what you usually pay.

How to get the reimbursement

Additional Living Expenses is an incurred payment. In other words, you need to actually have spent the money to be reimbursed. Keep all receipts and canceled checks. You can submit these to your public adjuster as the expenses are incurred. They can submit all proof of additional expenses.

What’s the limit of coverage?

Under homeowners’ forms HO 2, HO 3, HO 4 (tenants’ policy), and HO 5, ALE coverage is equal to 30 percent of the dwelling limit. Under a condominium owner’s policy (HO 6), the limit of ALE is 50 percent of the personal property limit. You’ll find all of your policy’s limits on the declarations page of your policy, which is usually the first or second page.

We can help you!

Robert L. McCormack Public Adjusters has plenty of experience dealing with ALE. We can help to set up your new living arrangements and ensure you maintain your standard of living. We can also assist you with submitting your receipts to the insurance company and make sure you get everything that you’re entitled to. Contact us today by filling out our contact form, or by giving us a call at 508.588.4243.

Check out this article for more information on ALE.