Property Damage & Disaster Restoration Blog: Long Island & New York City

Insurance Carriers Gain Comfort Level with Green Insurance Coverage

Posted on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 @ 02:17 PM

Environmental issues and green construction have a few points of intersection in the insurance marketplace.  When it comes to risk exposure, green construction techniques—new types of building materials, natural roof coverings, or even indoor water features—have raised concerns about how those components might impact mold, air quality, and other potential environmental issues.

When it comes to coverage for green construction, several environmental insurers have made options and endorsements available to cover the cost of LEED-certified upgrades connected to cleanup and restoration.


“Four to five years ago, all anyone wanted to talk about was green. We used to get calls all the time about how to price green endorsements based on the cost to retrofit commercial properties. But in the past year and a half it’s been eerily quiet,” says Steve Brewer, senior vice president of underwriting solutions at MSB, which provides pricing data for green building as part of its property-valuation solution.

The reason carriers have quit calling with questions is not because there is less interest in sustainable building. “New buildings are being built to greener standards. We are seeing an increase in renovation to green,” says Norrine Brydon, vice president of data asset and research at Marshall & Smith/Boeckh (MSB), a provider of building-cost data to the property insurance, appraisal, tax assessment, real estate and lending sectors. “There are more federal, state, and local mandates that have taken effect, such as CALGreen [the California Green Building Standards Code of 2011].”

Rather, carriers have become more comfortable with offering and pricing for the coverage. “When regulations started coming into effect, carriers had a fear of the unknown,” says Brydon. “As insurers got their heads around the changes and as green building materials and construction techniques have become more common, they became a lot less concerned about it.”

“Carriers are definitely using green endorsements as a competitive factor. They’re getting smart about what ‘green’ means—what [construction] items are heavy financial impacts and what ones aren’t,” adds Brewer. “A few years ago, it was a hot fad that everyone wanted to learn about. Now, it’s just part of how construction upgrades are done.”  

Tags: green insurance, insurance coverage, leed, insurance, insurance carriers, green insurance coverage, environmental insurers

Catastrophes, Reserves Halve Liberty Mutual Insurance Q4 Earnings

Posted on Thu, Mar 08, 2012 @ 11:55 AM

March 6, 2012

 

NU Online News Service, March 6, 12:25 p.m. EST

Net income at Liberty Mutual Insurance fell nearly 51 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 and about 78 percent for the year on catastrophe losses and reserve strengthening.

Liberty Mutual fourth quarter net income stood at $284 million, down from $576 for the same period in 2010. The combined ratio for the period was 104.2, up 5 points from the fouth quarter of 2010.

“Another quarter, another catastrophe,” says David H. Long, president and chief executive officer of Liberty Mutual, during a conference call.

During the last three months of 2011, the company suffered $90 million in losses related to the flooding in Thailand. Most of the loss is attributable to a Lloyd’s syndicate. Local companies took about $20 million in losses, Long says.

Liberty Mutual recorded a total of $234 million in catastrophe losses during the fourth quarter, compared to $198 million for the prior year same period.

The company posted net income of $365 million for full year 2011, down drastically from $1.68 billion in 2010.

Results included hundreds of millions in reserve strengthening. After a “ground-up reserve study” Liberty Mutual strengthened asbestos-related reserves $294 million in 2011.

Additionally, a re-estimation of current accident-year loss reserves resulted in a net incurred loss of $121 million in the fourth quarter.

“I’m pretty happy it’s no longer 2011,” Long says.

“At least, I thought so until last weekend,” he says, referring to the severe storms and tornadoes experienced by a dozen states.

Good news for the Boston-based insurer included increases of 10.6 percent and 6.8 percent in net written premium during the fourth quarter and year, respectively.

Long says Liberty Mutual continues to see favorable growth trends in domestic personal lines, with rate increases of more than 3 percent in auto and 5.5 percent in homeowners.

In commercial lines there is also a general trend in rate increases, led by double-digit jumps in workers’ compensation, he notes.

Premiums in the company’s Liberty International Underwriters unit were up 8.3 percent during the fourth quarter and internationally premiums were up 10 percent during the same three months, led by growth in Portugal, Poland and Turkey, Long says.

Business outside the U.S. now makes up about 23 percent of Liberty Mutual’s consolidated premium, says Long.

Tags: insurance claims, insurance, property casualty insurance, liberty mutual insurance, claims

RIA Provides Clean Up Tips for After Storm Damage

Posted on Mon, Mar 05, 2012 @ 08:59 AM
restoration industry association,ria,restoration,insurance,disaster restoration,property damage, restoration contractor,long island,new york,advanced restoration,dki member companyThe Restoration Industry Association (RIA) has these tips for individuals impacted by the storms that have caused property damage to their homes and/or businesses.
  • Notify your insurance company of the loss.
  • Keep a notebook to track dates and times of conversations with individuals pertaining to your claim.
  • Secure buildings to prevent vandalism or further damage from weather.  Most insurance policies require homeowners to take reasonable action to protect a property from further damage. Tarp or board up open spaces only if safe and appropriate.
  • Shut off main water, gas and electricity supplies.
  • Save receipts for meals, hotels, toiletries, replacement clothing, prescriptions, etc.
  • Take photos of each room or area for future reference and insurance claims. This will provide a digital inventory of some visible contents. More information on what to do can be found in the Consumer section of the RIA website.    
  • If electrical appliances, including televisions and computers are damaged, do not turn them back on when power is restored. This can result in electric shock and/or do further damage to the appliance.  Electronics can often be cleaned & restored by contractors who know what they're doing.
  • When it is safe to enter a property, look for valuables and important papers (e.g., birth/marriage certificates, wills, tax records, etc.).
  • Beware of scammers offering restoration services. Check references and visit the Restoration Industry Association website to find a contractor.
  • Wear heavy rubber gloves or work gloves and thick-soled shoes, preferably not tennis shoes.
  • Wash your hands frequently -- especially before touching your face or eating.
  • Be careful of sharp items such as broken glass, nails, etc. while searching debris.
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
  • Do not use bleach to disinfect since it is corrosive and can react with other substances. Use household disinfectants.
  • Hard surfaces can be disinfected as well as some soft goods, depending on washability.
  • Transport computers, art work and musical instruments to a dry environment.
  • Damaged papers and books can be frozen temporarily to prevent further disintegration until they can be restored by a professional.
  • Homeowners may hire any company they choose for restoration work, not just a company recommended by the insurance company.

 


The Restoration Industry Association (RIA) has member firms worldwide. RIA provides industry leadership, supports science, and promotes best practices for cleaning and restoration through certification, training and standards development. More information is available on the RIA website: www.restorationindustry.org.

 

Tags: property damage, restoration contractor, insurance, restoration, storm damage, insurance company, cleanup, storm damage cleanup, insuerance claim, ria, restoration industry

The Long Island Insurance Golf League

Posted on Thu, Mar 01, 2012 @ 10:04 AM

The Long Island Insurance Golf League: 1st Meeting of 2012

long island,golf,golf league,insurance,insurance golf league,long island insurance,long island insurance golf league,insurance claims

Fellow Golfers,


Spring will be upon us soon. It is time to start thinking ahead to the 2012 Golf Season.

We will be holding our first meeting of 2012 on Tuesday March 21st at Singleton's Restaurant in Hicksville, NY at 6pm.

Please Click Here to Fill Out the Form so we can have an idea on how many people will be attending.

The Long Island Insurance Golf League has been the place to golf and network for
the Long Island Insurance Community for over 25 years. Insurance Agents,
Brokers, Adjusters, and Claims Managers of all handicaps are all welcome to
participate.

The Long Island Insurance Golf League is a 9 Hole League that plays every Wednesday
from April through August. At the end of the year we hold an 18 hole outing
complete with dinner to celebrate the year at which time the league awards will be
handed out.

Are you new to The Long Island Insurance Golf League?

Click Here to Learn More

Click Here to Be Added to the Mailing List


May You Always Hit 'Em Straight....

Tags: long island golf, insurance golf league, long island, golf, insurance, insurance claim, long island insurance, long island golf league

Filing An Insurance Claim Could Cost Homeowners Down The Road

Posted on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 @ 12:51 PM

LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – Many people are spending the weekend picking up debris in their yards from the wind and snow. But with so much damage, homeowners are wondering if they should file a claim with their insurance company.

Most homeowners’ policies have coverage for wind damage. But what they must decide is whether it is worth filing a claim because it could really cost them.

The wind slapped Christy Wheeler’s Littleton home hard this week. The siding was ripped off, a section of the backyard fence is gone, and shingles were torn from her roof. Wheeler wasted no time calling in an insurance claim.

 

“I know definitely this is going to cost more than our deductible,” Wheeler said.

Her deductible is $1,000.

By the next morning State Farm claims agent Bob Blume was at her home. He measured and documented the damage. The roof is likely the most expensive part of the claim, but the snow posed a problem.

“The roof cannot be properly inspected by an insurance adjuster until it’s clear and dry,” Blume said.

It’s not clear how much all of the damage will cost to fix. But Wheeler estimates just the roof will cost about $5,000 or $6,000.

When filing a homeowner’s insurance claim insurance expert Carole Walker offers caution.

“If someone is filing a lot of smaller claims over a short period of time, that could put them at risk for losing insurance, because what the insurance company is looking at is how high risk are you,” Walker said.

Walker says it’s not the amount of the claim, it’s the number of claims. The average homeowner files one claim every 8 years.

The Wheeler family will wait for the snow to melt and the roof to dry and the claims agent to return for a total damage estimate.

Those who have a $1,000 deductible and the total damage is $1,200, the homeowner pays $1,000 and the insurance company only pays $200.

“The difficulty is we’re in an economy where a couple hundred bucks is a lot,” 4 On Your Side Investigator Jodi Brooks said. “But consider; we still have hail season ahead of us, and two or three claims could cost you in homeowner’s insurance premiums, or losing your insurance. It’s not an easy decision.”


Tags: property damage, insurance, insurance claim, insurance company, filing a claim

Flood and homeowner's insurance are not deductible

Posted on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 @ 09:35 AM
 
 
 Q. I understand there is a tax deduction for mortgage insurance, provided that your income is less than $100,000 per year. Are flood insurance and home insurance also deductible if your income is under $100,000?

Mortgage insurance premiums paid on your personal residence or second home would be deductible as an interest deduction on Schedule A (itemized deductions) on Form 1040. The deduction phases out once your adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds $100,000 for single and joint filers and $50,000 for married filing separately.

Flood and homeowners insurance are not deductible unless a portion of your home is used for business (for example, a two-family house). Based on the percentage of the property that is for business use, you would be allowed to deduct flood and homeowner insurance proportionately.

You must report rental income and expenses on business-use property on Schedule E of form 1040. — Eugene J. Varsalona is a certified public accountant in Little Ferry.

Q. When does it make sense for New Jersey taxpayers to do the work to amend a prior return? For example, we realized after filing for 2010 that total out-of-pocket medical expenses can possibly be deducted if they exceed more than 2 percent of adjusted gross income in New Jersey.

Individual income tax returns are amended on Form 1040X if you are amending a federal return and N.J. 1040X if you are amending a New Jersey return. According to the Internal Revenue Service, you can amend a return to correct the original return filed, make elections after the prescribed deadline, change amounts adjusted by the Internal Revenue Service or claim a carryback due to an unused credit.

Amended returns for both federal and state purposes must be filed within three years (including extensions) after the date the original return was filed or within two years after the date the taxes were paid, whichever is later.

Interest and penalties will be assessed against any balance due on the amended returns, so it is best to amend the returns as soon as an error is found.

I would recommend amending the N.J. 1040 if you determine that the out-of-pocket medical expenses exceed 2 percent of your New Jersey adjusted gross income. If you are entitled to a refund, you should claim it. — Thomas J. Braun is a certified public accountant in Park Ridge.

Tax questions? The Record's committee of local experts may be able to help. Accountants from theBergen County Chapter of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants, who are volunteering their time, will answer questions in The Record's Business section weekly until April. Email lynn@northjersey.com with "Tax Mailbag" in the subject line.

Tags: long island, property damage, insurance, new york, flood insurance, insurance claim

Flood and homeowner's insurance are not deductible

Posted on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 @ 09:35 AM
 
 
 
insurance,insurance claim, flood insurance,property damage,long island,new york

Q. I understand there is a tax deduction for mortgage insurance, provided that your income is less than $100,000 per year. Are flood insurance and home insurance also deductible if your income is under $100,000?

Mortgage insurance premiums paid on your personal residence or second home would be deductible as an interest deduction on Schedule A (itemized deductions) on Form 1040. The deduction phases out once your adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds $100,000 for single and joint filers and $50,000 for married filing separately.

Flood and homeowners insurance are not deductible unless a portion of your home is used for business (for example, a two-family house). Based on the percentage of the property that is for business use, you would be allowed to deduct flood and homeowner insurance proportionately.

You must report rental income and expenses on business-use property on Schedule E of form 1040. — Eugene J. Varsalona is a certified public accountant in Little Ferry.

Q. When does it make sense for New Jersey taxpayers to do the work to amend a prior return? For example, we realized after filing for 2010 that total out-of-pocket medical expenses can possibly be deducted if they exceed more than 2 percent of adjusted gross income in New Jersey.

Individual income tax returns are amended on Form 1040X if you are amending a federal return and N.J. 1040X if you are amending a New Jersey return. According to the Internal Revenue Service, you can amend a return to correct the original return filed, make elections after the prescribed deadline, change amounts adjusted by the Internal Revenue Service or claim a carryback due to an unused credit.

Amended returns for both federal and state purposes must be filed within three years (including extensions) after the date the original return was filed or within two years after the date the taxes were paid, whichever is later.

Interest and penalties will be assessed against any balance due on the amended returns, so it is best to amend the returns as soon as an error is found.

I would recommend amending the N.J. 1040 if you determine that the out-of-pocket medical expenses exceed 2 percent of your New Jersey adjusted gross income. If you are entitled to a refund, you should claim it. — Thomas J. Braun is a certified public accountant in Park Ridge.

Tax questions? The Record's committee of local experts may be able to help. Accountants from theBergen County Chapter of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants, who are volunteering their time, will answer questions in The Record's Business section weekly until April. Email lynn@northjersey.com with "Tax Mailbag" in the subject line.

Tags: long island, property damage, insurance, new york, flood insurance, insurance claim

What is an Insurance Claim? by WiseGEEK.com

Posted on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 @ 01:32 PM

insurance, insurance claim, insurance claims,property damage,disaster,restoration,long island,new york,insurance agent,property damage claim

An insurance claim is the actual application for benefits provided by an insurance company. Policy holders must first file an insurance claim before any money can be disbursed to the hospital or repair shop or other contracted service. The insurance company may or may not approve the claim, based on their own assessment of the circumstances.

Individuals who take out home, life, health, or automobile insurance policies must maintain regular payments called premiums to the insurers. Most of the time these premiums are used to settle another person's insurance claim or to build up the available assets of the insurance company. But occasionally an accident will happen which causes real financial damage, such as a automobile wreck or a tornado or a work-related accident. At this point the injured policy holder has the right to file an insurance claim in order to receive money from the insurance company.

In general, the insurance claim is filed with a local representative of the insurance company. This agent becomes responsible for investigating the specific details of the insurance claim and negotiating the payment from the main insurers. Many times a recognized authority (doctor, repair shop, building contractor) can file the necessary insurance claim forms directly with the insurance company. However, sometimes the policy holder may not want to file an actual insurance claim if the damage is minor or another party has agreed to pay out-of-pocket for their mistake.

After an insurance claim is filed, the insurance company may send out an investigator called an adjustor or appraiser. The insurance adjustor's job is to objectively evaluate the insurance claim and determine if the repair estimates are reasonable. This is to prevent possible fraud by contractors who may inflate their bills for additional compensation. Insurance companies tend to accept the adjustor or appraiser's evaluation as the final word on the insurance claim.

Some insurance claims may not be recognized by the insurance company for any number of reasons. If a claimant's premiums have not been paid in full, the policy itself may not be active. Another insurance company may have already agreed to pay for the damages listed in the claim. This happens quite often in automobile accidents where one party is held responsible. Another reason an insurance claim may be rejected is a failure to fall under covered conditions. Most insurance policies spell out specific areas which qualify for benefits. If the accident or damage claim was caused by carelessness or an unavoidable "Act of God", the insurance company has the right to withhold payments.

An insurance claim is the only way to officially apply for benefits under an insurance policy, but until the insurance company has assessed the situation it will remain only a claim, not a pay-out.

Tags: disaster, long island, property damage, insurance claims, insurance, new york, insurance agent, insurance claim, restoration, property damage claim

Enservio Continues Growth, Acquires Insurers World

Posted on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 @ 10:54 AM

NEEDHAM, Mass.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Enservio (www.enservio.com), the nation’s leading provider of property insurance analytics, affinity marketing and claims solutions, today announced that the company has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Insurers World (www.insurersworld.com) of Canton, Mass.

“Insurers World is an excellent company with strong management, great products, and similar values, and we have watched and admired them for years”

Together, Enservio and Insurers World will be able to offer property insurers a full range of solutions from strategic analytics to claims software and services nationally. As a combined entity, Enservio provides solutions to 12 of the largest property insurers in the nation, has over 300 insurer customers and over 450 employees nationally.

“Insurers World is an excellent company with strong management, great products, and similar values, and we have watched and admired them for years,” said Jon McNeill, CEO of Enservio. “This is a great day for both companies. We are thrilled to welcome Insurers World into the Enservio family. Over the years, we’ve developed a great deal of respect for the Insurers World professional team and their capabilities. This acquisition doubles the value we bring to our customers and doubles our geographic footprint in our claims services business.”

Don Stafford of Insurers World echoed the same, “We are thrilled to be joining Enservio and to benefit from their continued drive to create real innovation and efficiencies in the industry, including their enterprise Software as a Service (SaaS) platform. Together, we’ll not only provide our customers with the same unparalleled service levels, but also offer them a broader range of industry-changing solutions like the ReStoreMall and ReStoreCard.”

With this acquisition, Insurers World will retain its distinct brand identity, while strengthening and complementing Enservio. Insurers World will continue to be based in Canton, Massachusetts.

About Enservio

Enservio is the market leader in property insurance affinity solutions, strategic analytics, and contents software, inventory, valuation, replacement and replacement tools. Enservio created the first SaaS (software as a service) software platform for contents, the first replacement mall, the first payment debit card for claims and the first ContentsITV product. We provide software and services to property insurance carriers and their policy holders nationwide. Founded in 2004, we are headquartered near Boston, in Needham, MA with offices and professional staff across the United States. For additional information, please visit the company's web sitewww.enservio.com or call 888.567.7557.

About Insurers World

Since 1978, Insurers World™ has been a chosen partner of insurance companies to establish accurate LKQ and indemnity, incomparable to other industry services. Without the partnership of IW, an adjuster’s contents inventories may remain dormant while they manage more pressing tasks in their workload, returning to their contents evaluation now and again. This issue is simply resolved with the use IW’s inventory transcription and evaluation services, which proceed immediately upon claim submission, allowing the adjuster to concentrate on higher level tasks, making optimal use of their time.

Article First Appeared On EON Business Wire

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Contacts

Topaz Partners
Tom Francoeur, 781-404-2405
tfrancoeur@topazpartners.com

Tags: long island, insurance claims, insurance, new york, insurance claim, insurance industry, enservio, claim

Insurance Claims: What To Do After A Disaster Due to A Storm

Posted on Tue, Feb 14, 2012 @ 03:47 PM

insurance claim, insurance claims,insurance,property damage,storm damage,disaster,disasters,restoration,long island,new york

After the storm, besides making temporary repairs, there are several steps you should take that will aid in the filing of an insurance claim.
 
Make temporary repairs

  • Make temporary repairs to prevent further weather related damage. Cover holes in the roof, walls, doors and windows with plastic or boards. Be careful not to risk your own safety in making the repairs.
  • Save receipts for any material you buy. Your insurance company will reimburse you for the cost.
  • Beware of building contractors that encourage you to spend a lot of money on temporary repairs. Remember that payments for temporary repairs are part of the total settlement. If you pay a contractor a large sum for a temporary repair job, you may not have enough money for permanent repairs.
  • Don't make extensive permanent repairs until after the claims adjuster has been to your home and assessed the damage.
  • Avoid using electrical appliances, including stereos and television sets, that have been exposed to water unless they've been checked by a technician.
 
Call your insurance agent or insurance company
  • Report the damage to your insurance agent or insurance company representative. Ask questions such as: Am I covered? Does my claim exceed my deductible? (Your deductible is the amount of loss you agree to pay yourself when you buy a policy.) How long will it take to process my claim? Will I need to obtain estimates for repairs to structural damage?
 
Save receipts for additional living expenses. 
  • Most homeowners policies cover additional living expenses such as food and housing costs, telephone or utility installation costs in a temporary residence, extra transportation costs to and from work or school, relocation and storage expenses and furniture rental for a temporary residence. Your insurance company will usually advance you money for these expenses. The payments will be part of the final claim settlement. Let your insurance company know where you can be reached so that the claims adjuster can give you a check.
  • The maximum amount available to pay for such expenses is generally equal to 20 percent of the insurance on your home. So on a home insured for $100,000, up to $20,000 would be available. This amount is in addition to the $100,000 to pay for repairs or to rebuild your home. Some insurance companies pay more than 20 percent. Others limit additional living expenses to the amount actually spent during a certain period of time, such as 12 months, instead of a maximum percentage of the policy limit.
 

Preparing for the adjuster's visit

The claims process may begin in one of two ways.
  1. Your insurance company may send you a claim form, known as a "proof of loss form," to complete.
  2. An adjuster may visit your home before you're asked to fill out any forms. (An adjuster is a person professionally trained to assess the damage.) Usually, the more information you have about your damaged home and belongings the faster your claim can be settled.
  • Major disasters make enormous demands on insurance company personnel. Your adjuster generally will come prepared to do a thorough and complete study of the damage to your home. However, the large number of claims may place time restrictions on adjusters forcing them to "scope the loss." If your adjuster doesn't make a complete evaluation of the loss on the first visit, try to set up an appointment for a second visit.
  • Be sure to keep copies of lists and other documents you submit to your insurance company. Also, keep copies of whatever paperwork your insurance company gives you.
Personal Belongings:
  1. Make lists of the damaged items. Include the brand names and model numbers of appliances and electronic equipment. If possible, take photographs of the damage. Don't forget to list items such as clothing, sports equipment, tools, china, linens, outside furniture, holiday decorations and hobby materials.
  2. Use your home inventory or put together a set of records - old receipts, bills and photographs - to help establish the price and age of everything that needs to be replaced or repaired.
  3. If your property was destroyed or you no longer have any records, you will have to work from memory. Try to picture the contents of every room and then write a description of what was there. Try also to remember where and when you bought each piece and about how much you paid.
  4. Don't throw out damaged furniture and other expensive items because the adjuster will want to see them.
Structure of Your Home:
  1. Identify the structural damage to your home and other buildings on your premises, like a garage, toolshed or in-ground swimming pool.
  2. Make a list of everything you would like to show the adjuster when he or she arrives. This should include cracks in the walls, damage to the floor or ceiling and missing roof tiles. If structural damage is likely even though you can't see any signs of it, discuss this with your adjuster. In some cases, the adjuster may recommend hiring a licensed engineer or architect to inspect the property.
  3. Have the electrical system checked. Most insurance companies pay for such inspections.
  4. Get written bids from reliable, licensed contractors on the repair work. The bids should include details of the materials to be used and prices on a line-by-line basis.

This article was taken from Local10.com

 

Tags: reoprting a claim, what to do after a storm, property damage, insurance claims, insurance, restoration, disasters

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