What does a Category 4 storm entail? According to the NHC’s website, “Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
We spoke to Jansen/Adjusters International’s Principal & Executive General Adjuster, Luis Esteves to find out what property damage is most likely to occur:
The 130-156 mph produced by Category 4 hurricanes can tear or lift even the strongest roofing off of homes and buildings. Esteves notes that whether or not the failure will be covered depends on several factors: How old is the roof? Has it been damaged previously? Was it in need of repair? And most importantly, what type of coverage was purchased? If it’s relatively new and in good shape, most standard policies will pay to repair the roof back to the condition it was in before the hurricane and some policies will even pay for a completely new roof.
When roofs are damaged and windows and doors are torn off or broken, heavy rains and flying debris can enter buildings, damaging walls, flooring and furnishings in the process. Another interior concern? Mold growth! Esteves notes that there is a high likelihood of mold damage after hurricanes but that most policies have limitations for this type of damage.
For businesses, many types of equipment can be impacted by the flooding and power surges that hurricanes often bring. Fire pressured vessels, steam boilers, hot-water boilers, sterilizers, vulcanizers, electrical equipment, transformers, generators, air-conditioning systems, electronic data processing, computer equipment and telephone systems can all be affected.
4.) Public Utilities
It’s not just the buildings in the hurricane’s path that are affected. These windstorms can often disrupt electrical, telecommunication and water utilities that are miles away from the spot where the hurricane first makes landfall. This means that businesses and houses within a 600-mile radius may need to file insurance claims.
Although Esteves says that hurricane damage can lead to a complicated insurance claim, he said that by taking a few important steps, business owners can improve their chances of recovering their property losses.
What issues are most likely to prevent policyholders from getting everything that they are owed under their purchased policies?
- Returning to their properties, finding damage and not remedying it (or taking steps to prevent further damage) such as tarping torn roofs and windows or turning of water supply valves.
- Not being ready with paperwork and financial figures when the insurance company’s adjuster(s) arrives to inspect the damaged property.
- Not being able to provide accurate property values and repair costs.
- Not having a personal property or contents inventory ready or throwing away damaged items before any documentation has been done.
- Not understanding what rights and obligations are included in their purchased policy.
Esteves notes that many of the issues above can be avoided by hiring a qualified public adjuster. A public adjuster can help property owners to fully recover from the loss and negotiate with the insurance company on their behalf. Public adjusters bring expertise and knowledge to what can otherwise be a lengthy and confusing process for those outside of the insurance industry.
“Although we hope that this storm is downgraded and does not cause the devastating property damage that similar past storms have, our experts can measure and document property damages for policyholders in order to assist them in recovering funds for the damages they have sustained,” said Esteves. “Our licensed public adjusters can help you determine how much you are owed under your current property insurance policy.”