You have spent an enormous amount of time buying and collecting the items in your home. Years, decades perhaps, amassing a collection of things that represents who you are and making your home your castle. You spend weeks or months laboring over just the right bedroom furniture to get, the right living room set, the perfect paint color to get things the way you want them to look. And, in one fail swoop, disaster strikes and you lose it all. Now instead of years, all you have is mere weeks to prepare, not only a complete inventory of everything you have in your home, but you have to put a cost to it as well. How are you supposed to remember every item you had in your home, when you purchased it, and how much it costs? If you are anything like me, you have a hard enough time remembering your anniversary and what you had for dinner the other night with all of the normal everyday stress in your life, much less the added stress of an insurance loss.
You don’t ever expect the worst to happen, but you need to be prepared if and when it does. The best way to help you through the painstaking task of remembering what you have is through pictures. And in today’s world, digital pictures are the easiest way to document your items while taking up the least amount of space. You can store all of the pictures on a flash drive or CD. Take the time to walk around your home and take photos of every room of your house from all sides of the room. This way, should something happen, you can look at the pictures to jog your memory of what was in the room. It is a good idea to do this every year or so as to have a current inventory of your items.
It is also important to get a fire safe and store these pictures and any other valuable documents in there as well. Spend a little time and money now to protect your investments in the future. You need to be proactive and not reactive when it comes to dealing with disaster
Contributed by Tim Woodard
Now that your taxes are done…………oh…..you say they’re not? Had to file an extension? Well I’m sure you are not alone. Nonetheless, I’m writing to let you know that now is a good time to review your insurance policy. Why now you ask? Right now the annual income produced by your business is fresh on your mind. Therefore, check to make sure your business income protection reflects that latest financial information so that you are covered in the event of a shut-down?
If you are like most business owners, you spend the bulk of your time dealing with day-to-day details. Before you know it, your doors have been open for years and you’ve never reviewed the financial projection you first gave your insurance broker. If your sales are now much higher than they were when you purchased your insurance then you should adjust the business income policy limits accordingly. Co-insurance penalties are commonly applied by the insurance companies when a business does not have enough coverage. Therefore, your recovery amount is less than what is needed to replace your lost income because of that penalty.
On the other hand, if your sales are lower than what was projected then you are paying too much in insurance premiums. I’m sure it will come as no surprise that while insurance companies may penalize you for not having enough coverage, they will never credit you for paying them too much.
Similarly, it is a good time to check on your homeowner’s insurance too. Have you made improvements that would increase the cost of replacing your home? For that matter, have you upgraded your furniture or purchased items which have not been included in your current policy amounts? Room additions or expensive paintings are some examples that increase the value of your home and its contents.
In today’s busy world reminders are often needed to address anything that is not a crisis or a top priority. Use the April 15th deadline each year to keep your insurance updated and make sure you are adequately covered in the event of a loss. That way, if a loss occurs, you will be as prepared as you could be in order to deal with the unforeseen.
Contributed by Elizabeth Salinas
Just think of everything you own in your home or business, all of the clothes in the closets, the make-up in the bathrooms, the drawers stuffed with miscellaneous items, the tools in the garage, all those boxes in the attic and/or basement, the furniture and electronics.
Who wants to go through all of the hassle of listing your property after a fire or flood damages the property, spending hours if not days doing an inventory, while taking off work?
What if you are a business owner? Who will inventory your damaged products, equipment and offices at a time when you need to concentrate on the survival of your business and keeping your employees?
When you file an insurance claim on your damaged contents, it is your responsibility as the home/business owner to furnish a complete inventory of the damaged property showing the quantity, description, amount of loss and any requested documentation. The insurance company may want receipts, photographs or other proof that the property was actually in the home or business at the time of loss.
What will your insurance company do? They may (1) hand you a pile of forms for you to do your inventory on, (2) send out their own contents adjuster or (3) hire an outside company to do an inventory for them.
Why should you hire a Public Adjuster to help you on your contents claim?
In addition to the reasons already presented, the Public Adjuster can prepare an accurate and complete inventory on your behalf, research and document the correct replacement costs and discuss any issues on the claim with your insurance company, while you take care of your family or business.
Contributed by Steve Dykmann
The other morning, while I was shaving, I remembered a scene from an old Michael Keaton movie from back in the early ’90’s entitled “My Life”. His wife is pregnant with their first child, a son, and he is diagnosed with terminal kidney cancer. The doctors don’t expect him to live to see the birth of his son. Michael Keaton’s character decides to make a series of home movies to be shown to his son after his death so his son would know exactly who his father was and, most importantly, to teach him all the things he should know in life like how to cook spaghetti, how to play basketball, how to drive, how to start a car with jumper cables and, of course, how to shave.
This got me thinking further that, not only did no one teach me how to shave; there aren’t even any instructions on the razor packaging or the shave cream canister. A simple task you do nearly every day and NO INSTRUCTIONS! Most of us bungle our way through simple tasks, utilizing the time honored method of “trial and error”. And for something as insignificant as shaving that’s an okay way to learn, but what about the really important lessons in life. I mean the ones that can have significant and lasting consequences. By now I’m sure you’re wondering just where the hell all this is leading. On a daily basis we, in our profession as public adjusters, meet people completely unprepared for the situations they find themselves in. Some refer to this as the ‘School of Hard Knocks’, and yet all these people are thinking is “I didn’t enroll in this damn school and I sure as hell didn’t sign up for this course”. Just the same, life’s lessons are going to be taught to us whether we like it or not.
Our public schools do almost nothing to teach our children simple but important skills they will need when they finally venture out on their own, such as how to balance a checkbook, how to negotiate a car purchase, how to make a REALISTIC budget (not paycheck - rent = BEER!), how to lease an apartment, how to change a flat tire, when you’re turning a bolt it’s righty tighty & lefty loosey, the importance of saving money for a rainy day, the importance of saving money for a sunny day, the importance of a good insurance policy and the value of a great public adjuster. . . . . . the list goes on and on.
It’s imperative that we take the time to pass our knowledge on to our children and prepare them for life so that, in time, they may do the same. And there’s no excuse for those of you who were never taught these lessons not to take the time to educate yourself and then pass them down.
Always remember that while tuition at the ‘School of Hard Knocks’ may be FREE, it’s the individual lessons that can be VERY COSTLY.
Contributed by Mark Lutzel
What are Public Insurance Adjusters?
Public adjusters represent the interests of the insured / policyholder in the preparation, presentation, and settlement of first party property insurance claims. Where staff and independent adjusters work on behalf of the insurance company, public adjusters work solely for the insured.
Public insurance adjusters in Texas are required to be licensed, and must follow strict guidelines set forth by the Texas Department of Insurance, including the manner in which they get paid. For example, most public insurance adjusters charge a percentage of the claim. In Texas, this fee cannot exceed 10 percent of settlement on the claim. There are other rules and regulations designed to assure that consumers in Texas are dealing with well education, professional, and ethical public adjusters.
Why Texas Policyholders Need the Services of Public Insurance Adjusters?
Property insurance policies obligate the insured / policyholder to prove its claim to the insurance company. Public adjusters are skilled in all aspects of the claims process, thereby putting the insured on equal footing with their insurance carrier. Licensed public adjusters have expertise in many areas, including the understanding complex insurance policies from an adjuster’s point of view.
Public adjusters are also trained to identify covered damage and estimate appropriate repair or replacement costs. Public insurance adjusters are familiar the insurance industry and its customs and practices. As a result, they are able to present claims in such a way as to assure the most favorable outcome for the insured.
The immediate aftermath of an insurance loss is devastating and stressful. Knowing that a public insurance adjuster is carefully documenting the damage, and working on your behalf to ensure that you get every penny you deserve under the terms of your policy, brings peace of mind during a stressful time.
TAPIA Public Insurance Adjusters
The Texas Association of Public Insurance Adjusters promotes the highest standards of professional conduct in the field of public adjusting. TAPIA members are committed to conducting their business with honesty and integrity, and in accordance with the licensing laws of the State of Texas.
Please visit http://www.mytapia.org if you have been approached by a public adjuster to make sure he is a member of the association. The Texas Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, or TAPIA, is an organization dedicated to protecting the interests of insured Texas home and business owners who have suffered property insurance losses.
Contributed by Philip Hanson
Resource: Texas Association of Public Insurance Adjusters