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

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
[email protected]

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

Best Revises Chartis, Lexington & Members Outlooks to Stable

Posted on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 @ 08:54 AM

 

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In connection with its revision of its outlook on AIG, A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength ratings of ‘A’ (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “a” of Chartis US Insurance Group and its members and the Lexington Insurance Pool and its members, headquartered in Boston, Mass. The outlook for these ratings has also been revised to stable from negative.

Best also affirmed the FSR of ‘A’ (Excellent) and ICR of “a” of AIU Insurance Company (AIU); however, its outlook on these ratings remains negative.

In addition Best has affirmed the FSR of’ ‘B+’ (Good) and ICR of “bbb-” of American General Property Insurance Company (AGPIC) (headquartered in Houston, Texas). The outlook for these ratings has been revised to stable from negative.

In a related action Best withdrew the FSRs of ‘A’ (Excellent) and ICRs of “a” of Chartis Select Insurance Company and Landmark Insurance Company, due to the merger of these companies with and into their immediate parents, Lexington Insurance Company and National Union Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., respectively.

All of these companies are subsidiaries of American International Group, and are headquartered in New York, NY, unless otherwise noted.

The ratings of Chartis US reflect its “supportive level of risk-adjusted capitalization, the group’s leadership position in the global property/casualty market, the successful implementation of Chartis’ rebranding, the effect of new leadership on management’s approach to the business, and its favorable earnings prospects in light of the financial, cultural and operational initiatives put in place since 2010,” Best explained.

As an offsetting factor Best cited the “effect of soft market conditions on underwriting results, adding that it expects the “continued emergence of adverse development of prior years’ loss reserves and the group’s exposure to natural and man-made catastrophe events which, although diminished by recent underwriting actions, remains a significant contributor to underwriting variability.”

Best explained that the stable outlook “reflects Chartis US’ market position; its ability to lead, attract and retain clients by leveraging its significant global capacity, extensive product offerings and innovation; and greater emphasis on technical pricing and predictive modeling. While reserve development remains a concern, the stable outlook suggests that any future reserve development will be within a level,” which Best said was “acceptable.”

Best also noted that it “expects that the group will continue to maintain a supportive level of risk-adjusted capitalization through favorable net earnings while providing shareholder dividends to its parent in accordance with historical norms.

“The change in outlook to stable from negative also considers the continued improvements at AIG including the January 2011 implementation of the company’s recapitalization plan, AIG’s recent issuance of debt and equity in the public capital markets, enhanced holding company liquidity and the orderly wind down of its financial products division.”

In addition Best pointed out that “Chartis US’ risk-adjusted capital position remained stable in 2011 and is well-supportive of the ratings at its current level. A decline in affiliated investments in recent years has served to improve both the level and quality of risk-adjusted capital, as have actions to reduce the group’s exposure to natural catastrophes. Surplus declined in 2011, primarily due to underwriting losses driven by catastrophes and by payment by the group members of shareholder dividends in line with historical levels.”

Best said it “anticipates that future dividends will be taken in accordance with AIG’s strategy of maintaining more capital at the holding company level, which affords a greater level of flexibility to deploy resources throughout the enterprise.” At the same time Best expects that “capital will be maintained at a sufficient level to support the ratings at the operating entities. AIG has issued Capital Maintenance Agreements to its key operating subsidiaries as part of its capital management plan in support of this expectation.”

An apparently major factor in Best’s actions is Chartis improved underwriting performance through the first nine months of 2011, compared with 2010, but, Best added, it “is expected to be slightly worse than the industry average for the year. Chartis US’ 2011 results for that period were impacted by the unusually high level of global catastrophe activity in the year, which added approximately nine points to the combined ratio. Results as of September 30, 2011 also were modestly impacted by adverse development of prior years’ loss reserves.”

Best explained that the “favorable comparison of 2011 results to 2010 is substantially affected by the impact of increases in reserves for prior years’ losses in 2010, which totaled $5.2 billion and added over 26 points to the reported statutory combined ratio in that year. The reserve increase in 2010 was, as indicated previously, within Best’s estimate of the group’s reserve deficiency and, as such, did not drive a change in the group’s ratings. Favorable rate changes accelerated through 2011 and Chartis US expects to continue achieving rate increases through 2012.”

The future development of loss reserves “will be favorably impacted by the 2011 loss portfolio transfer of Chartis US’ asbestos reserves to National Indemnity Company, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.,” Best said. However offsetting this favorable effect is Best’s expectation that “the group’s reserves—even after consideration of the benefit of this agreement—remain deficient, although at a lower level than prior to these actions.”

Best’s assessment of the group’s risk-adjusted level “reflects this expectation,” as well as Best’s expectation that “Chartis US’ reported underwriting results will continue to reflect increases in prior years’ loss reserves in the near to midterm.

“The group continues to enjoy its position as a leading provider of commercial insurance in the U.S. market and benefits from Chartis’ global leadership position. The group’s ability to provide global insurance services to multinational companies, as well as to meet the needs of local markets, remains a key differentiator of its business profile.”

As far as the ratings on Lexington are concerned, Best explained that they “reflect its supportive level of risk-adjusted capitalization, historically favorable development of prior years’ loss reserves, consistent generation of favorable pre-tax operating and net income and its position as the leader in the U.S. excess and surplus lines market.”

As partial offsetting factors Best cited the “effects of soft market conditions on the group’s underwriting results; its exposure to natural catastrophes, which drives variability in underwriting performance; and the long-tailed nature of its excess casualty writings.”

Best said the stable outlook reflects its expectation that the group will maintain a supportive level of risk-adjusted capital driven by continued favorable net earnings. The change in outlook to stable from negative also reflects Best’s perspective on the reduced risk to Lexington from negative events at its ultimate parent, AIG.”

However, Best noted that “Lexington’s underwriting and operating results deteriorated through the first three quarters of 2011 from their 2010 level, driven by the significant level of catastrophe and weather-related events in the year.”

The adverse effect of these events, however, “was partially offset by favorable development of the pool’s reserves for prior years’ losses. Despite the decline in underwriting performance driven by a near-historic level of global catastrophe activity, the group’s underwriting losses through September 30, 2011 were relatively modest in the context of its surplus and asset bases. Underwriting results continue to benefit from a better than average expense ratio,” but, as Best also observed, “Lexington’s expense ratio has grown closer to its peer group average in recent years, driven in part by lower levels of net written premium (particularly in 2009).

“Following the sharp decline in net written premium in 2009, Lexington’s premiums rebounded in 2010 and 2011. The decline reflected both reduced demand for traditional excess and surplus (E&S) coverages (as admitted carriers sought to boost business by writing coverages traditionally offered on an E&S basis on their admitted paper) and the effects of AIG’s 2008 crisis.

“The pool maintained its E&S leadership position, however, and as the aftermath of AIG’s issues faded, customer and premium retentions have returned to near-normal levels. As with Chartis US, Lexington expects the positive rate actions that began in 2011 to continue through 2012.”

Best said its ratings on AIU “reflect its supportive level of risk-adjusted capitalization, the historically favorable performance of its core book of Japanese A&H and auto insurance and its restored focus on that business.”

As offsetting factors, Best cited “the variability in surplus and results in recent years (related in part to the quota share reinsurance it provided to an affiliate in 2008 and 2009), the effects of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on 2011 results and the potential for continued changes in the company’s legal entity structure as the previously announced restructuring of Chartis’ business continues. The negative outlook on the ratings is reflective of these offsetting factors.”

 Best’s ratings on AGPIC “reflect the company’s sufficient level of risk adjusted capital to run off its remaining liabilities and the orderly progress of that run-off, offset by its limited business profile,” the report said. The stable outlook reflects Best’s expectation that “the company will continue to maintain sufficient capital to facilitate the wind down of its business, and that there will be no negative impact on the company resulting from issues related to AIG.”

In conclusion Best indicated that it doesn’t “expect positive movement on any of these ratings in the near to midterm. Potential drivers of downward movement in the ratings include deterioration in risk-adjusted capitalization below the level required to support the ratings; underwriting or operating performance that is not in line with Best’s expectations; recognition of adverse development of prior years’ loss reserves in excess of Best’s expectations; recognition of a failure of management to disclose information that is relevant to the rating process; reduction in or withdrawal of lines of credit available to AIG or Chartis Inc.; and deterioration in the financial condition of AIG, whether driven by its insurance or non-insurance operations.”

Best summarized the companies affected by the ratings announcements as follows:

The FSR of ‘A’ (Excellent) and the ICR of “a” have been affirmed and the outlook revised to stable from negative for Chartis US Insurance Group and its following members:
       National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa.
       American Home Assurance Company
       Commerce and Industry Insurance Company
       Chartis Property and Casualty Company
       The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania
       New Hampshire Insurance Company
       Chartis Insurance Company – Puerto Rico
       Chartis Insurance Company of Canada
       Chartis Casualty Company
       Granite State Insurance Company
       Illinois National Insurance Company

The FSR of ‘A’ (Excellent) and the ICR of “a” have been affirmed and the outlook revised to stable from negative for Lexington Insurance Pool and its following members:
       Lexington Insurance Company
       Chartis Specialty Insurance Company
       Chartis Excess Limited

Source: A.M. Best

Article First Published in The Insurance Journal

 

Tags: insurance journal, chartis insurance, a.m. best, long island, insurance, new york

The Next Big Thing In Insurance Coverage Is Here

Posted on Tue, Dec 13, 2011 @ 10:16 AM

By Amy O' Connor | December 13, 2011

First Published in the Insurance Journal

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Some in the insurance industry are staking their futures on the reputations of others. That is, they are looking to insure reputational risk.

With the boom in social media, interest in reputational risk has itself boomed. The term refers to a company’s risk of having its reputation damaged because of certain events or incidents and the fallout that takes place because of these incidents. In some cases, the effects can be severe enough to put a company out of business.

In recent months, Aon (along with Zurich) Willis and Chartis have also come out with policies that address the exposures of reputational risk and offer risk management services to help corporations keep their reputations intact.

The Reputation Institute in London, England, deals with issues of reputation management and the strategic importance of reputation, its assets and effects on a company’s balance sheet. The Institute also studies how a company will be able to perform, or survive, if a crisis were to occur.

Seamus Gillen, senior adviser at Reputation Institute, says these new insurance policies are just the tip of the iceberg and there are whispers that insurers see this as the next big class of business.

“It has been understood and acknowledged universally that the crystallization of reputation risk creates or leads to value destruction,” he says. “The financial impact on companies which go through a crisis can be significant. Suddenly people all over the world and within financial media have been putting a term on that.”

The Reputational Institute doesn’t offer crisis management, but Gillen says that it often does end up inside companies that are trying to put out fires.

“We are more proactive – what framework companies need to put into place to manage reputation,” Gillen says.

Recently, the Reputation Institute has been increasingly asked to address reputational risk and give input on reputational insurance products, according to Gillen.

“Reputational risk as a concept is really coming into its own. Previously people talk about reputation and brand and PR and all that – now everyone is talking about reputational risk,” he says. “We are seeing a lot of markets reactions to that with the insurance industry seeking to set up products for clients.”

The Reputation Institute doesn’t offer insurance or work in the industry, but Giillen says it was approached recently by a major London insurer about partnering on an insurance product.

Gillen says his organization has stood on the sidelines when it comes to endorsing any insurance coverages or companies. But that is about to change. The institute will only issue an endorsement when it is sure it is the right fit and a worthwhile product. He said there is a deal being negotiated and an announcement could come soon.

“There is no shortage of crisis management people who want to work with us and we are likely to go into the market,” he says. “People need support to make their business a success. It is about taking philosophies of my reputation and risk management to create a coherent strategy. People are coming to us and saying, ‘how can you help me with this?’”

Robert Yellen, chief underwriting officer for the executive liability division of Chartis in New York, says the company launched its new ReputationGuard product because of what it was hearing from its corporate clients.

“At the board level, the number one non-financial concern [for companies] is reputation,” he says. “It is more and more common for the press to glob onto things that put a company’s reputation at risk. The old adage says, ‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.’”

Yellen says he has seen a few other coverages in the marketplace that deal with a crisis and insurance responses to the crisis itself, as well as pieces to the policy that deal with reputation and communication in a limited amount or context, but they use named or limited peril coverage triggers.

ReputationGuard was designed to help insureds cope with reputational threats, providing access to reputation and crisis communications firms Burson-Marsteller and Porter Novelli and coverage for costs associated with avoiding or minimizing the potential impact of negative publicity.

There are two categories of coverage:

  1. For reputation attacks: a public attack upon a company’s reputation. The costs of hiring communications experts from the Chartis panel and communications costs.
  2. For reputation threats: acts or events that the company believes, if made public, would have a material impact on the company’s reputation and would be seen as a breach of trust by the company’s stakeholders.

Chartis is not excluding any business segments but is most interested in those with revenues of $500,000 to $2 billion.

Yellen says the product is targeted to middle-market companies because larger companies are more likely to have in-house teams to deal with these issues. The middle-market and smaller companies may also need more assistance in putting the proper risk management procedures in place.

“Everyone has a reputation at stake, that is a common theme among business,” says Yellen. “People can argue that small businesses, like generic component manufacturers, don’t care, but in the regions we sell to, that’s not a mentality we see. Everyone cares about their reputation.”

Willis is taking a more segment specific route with its new Hotel Reputation Protection 2.0 policy, which responds to incidents that lead to, or are likely to lead to, hotel business losses from adverse publicity through any medium, from traditional to new media.

The policy provides cover for lost revenue based on RevPAR figures, a performance metric in the hotel industry that measures revenue per available room. The coverage also covers the cost of hiring a crisis management consulting firm during the first weeks of an incident.

“This product provides immediate assistance to a client who is suffering an incident which through social media will damage their brand,” says Laurie Fraser, Global Markets Leisure practice leader for Willis Group Holdings in London.

Fraser says the product was predicated on research in reputation, causes of concern to hotels, worldwide figures for incidents and the magnitude. It was designed in consultation with hotels. In the first week the product was launched, there were 32 inquiries, according to Fraser.

“Brand and reputation is an area of increasing importance and concern, especially among our hotel clients,” says Fraser.

Gillen agrees that insurers have a huge opportunity to help companies prevent a crisis with insurance products and access to outside resources.

“Unequivocally, in my view the biggest value piece [of reputational risk insurance] is to help the client understand and help prevent a crisis from happening in the first place,” says Gillen.

Gillen says there is no shortage of reputational risks from social media and the Internet in general, from corporate manslaughter, money laundering, corporate corruption, and terrorism. Consumers also have more awareness of how to affect a company’s fate.

“Companies need to be very careful about where they position themselves in order to get where they want to go because it can be fatal if they don’t take it seriously,” he says.

The combination of all the potential risks, says Gillen, is enough to make reputational risk insurance a hot commodity.

“I think [reputational risk insurance] will take off because there will be enough people out there that want some reassurance and their boards wanting reassurance that the company has the best crisis responses in place,” he says. “This is probably an idea that’s time has come.”

Executive Concern

The concern over reputational risk is reflected in the results of a new survey by Lloyd’s. The 2011 Lloyd’s Risk Index polled 500 C-Suite and board level executives in North America, Europe, Asia and elsewhere to assess corporate risk priorities and attitudes around the world. Business leaders were asked to rank the biggest risks they now face. In 2009 reputational risk was ranked ninth, in 2011 it came in third.

According to Lloyd’s, a 2010 study (Oxford Metrica Reputation Review) of the world’s 1,000 largest companies found 80 percent of companies lose more than 20 percent of their value at least once in a 5-year period because of a major reputational event.

“Business fails to protect itself from reputational damage at its peril,” says the Lloyd’s report, which claims certain business practices can directly increase the likelihood of reputational risk, including operating in new territories without a thorough understanding of local geopolitics, as many international companies operating in Nigeria have discovered.

 

 

 

About Amy O' Connor

O'Connor is associate editor of MyNewMarkets.com.

 

Tags: insurance journal, long island, property damage, risk, insurance, restoration, new york city

Winter Is Here, And So Are Your Frozen Pipes!

Posted on Mon, Dec 12, 2011 @ 11:29 AM

Everyone in New York knows that the winter season in the Northeast can be treacherous and cause major damage to property structures.  Whether you are a homeowner or business professional, it is important to become educated on preventing frozen pipes.

Why Do Pipes Freeze?

Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the "strength" of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Also, pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:

  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located and are in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated. A hot water supply line can freeze just as a cold water supply line can freeze if the water is not running through the pipe and the water temperature in the pipe is cold.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Many products are available at your local building supplies retailer. Pipes should be carefully wrapped, with ends butted tightly and joints wrapped with tape. Follow manufacturer's recommendations for installing and using these products.

Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:

If you have an issue related to frozen pipes, contact us immediately to alleviate the potential of further property damage to your home or business.

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Tags: cold weather, freezing cold, winter, long island, water damage, new york, frozen pipes

Advanced Restoration, Water Damage, and Moisture Detection

Posted on Mon, Dec 05, 2011 @ 10:49 AM

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Advanced Restoration Corp. has been in business for over 20 years.  In that time we have seen the evolution of moisture meters in the water damage mitigation industry.  Through much trial and error with different brands and types of moisture meters over the years we have fine tuned our moisture detection equipment to utilize the best the industry has to offer.

Advanced Restoration Corp. has chosen to stock our Project Managers and Emergency Response Teams with the finest selection of moisture meters and moisture measuring instruments that are vital to any water damage mitigation.

Moisture meters are necessary on EVERY water damage to find the answers to these very important questions:

  • What Is Wet?
  • How Wet Is It?
  • Is Equipment Working Properly?
  • Is It Dry? 

We Utilize Every Tool In Our Toolbox

Advanced Restoration Corp. has many valuable tools at their disposal to detect moisture inside a structure.  They all should be utilized to get an accurate assessment of the moisture intrusion and extent of water damaged building materials.

Thermal Imaging shows temperature differences in building materials.  It does not show what is wet.  Moisture Meters ALWAYS are used in conjunction with our thermal imaging cameras to confirm the presence of moisture hidden in building materials.

We Utilize Our Moisture Meters To:

  • Take relative humidity and temperature readings and apply psychrometric calculations in order to determine the specific humidity of the structure in various locations, including outside air and the exhaust of the dehumidification equipment.

  • Monitor the specific humidity levels to make sure our equipment is running properly, the ambient humdity levels continue to decrease in our drying chamber and we are not causing any secondary damage by accidentally increasing the humdity level (installation of air movers) without the proper dehumidification.

  • Take moisture content readings from various building materials and in a multitude of locations to determine the extent of the water damage and the progress of the drying of the building materials throughout the drying process.

  • This would also include getting a dry standard moisture content measurements of known building materials from other locations in the structure so we can use a comparison of measurements in finding out what is the normal moisture content if these building materials had not been saturated with water.

All these  measurements are recorded and updated daily so that we will have accurate information to know when the drying process is complete.

 
Click on the names below to see videos of some of our preferred moisture meters:

Tags: long island, water damage, moisture meter, moisture detection, moisture content, restoration, moisture, new york city

Emergency Water Extraction Services: Long Island and New York City

Posted on Fri, Nov 18, 2011 @ 09:47 AM

water extraction,water removal,long island,new york city,drying equipment,response time,emergency services

One of the worst things that can happen is having an insurance claim due to a pipe break or water heater malfunction that causes a water intrusion to flood your basement or saturate your home or office.  Advanced Restoration's Disaster and Emergency Response Time minimizes the property damage that can be caused by a flood.  Our emergency water extraction services have assisted many homes and buildings throughout Long Island and New York City. 

We Perform Emergency Water Extraction / Water Removal Services Due All Forms of Water Instrusions.

Whether it is standing water or water trapped in the building materials, it is 500 times faster to physically remove the water by extracting than it is to evaporate it using structural drying equipment.

Why Thorough Water Extraction / Removal Is Necessary:

  • Reduces the overall costs for complete restoration

  • Minimized the chance of future mold growth

  • Reduces the need to replace saturated building materials including carpet, padding, and sheetrock

  • Claims get closed faster

  • Reduces the disruption of the home or building owner

Increases customer satisfaction

Advanced Restoration's Emergency Water Extraction Crew
 
 
More Water Extraction Performed by Advanced Restoration
 
 
 

 

Tags: disaster, extraction, wet building materials, drying equipment, response time, long island, water damage, structural drying, emergency, water extraction, water removal, new york city

Hot Stat: Today's Homes Burn Faster Than Ever

Posted on Mon, Nov 14, 2011 @ 08:34 AM
It may sound like a cliche to trot out fire safety tips before the holiday season, but if there's one statistic that bears repeating, it's this: Even with adequate smoke alarms, a house fire today can become uncontrollable in less than three minutes.

That's down from an average 17 minutes in 1975 -- a whopping 82 percent difference.

And the reason for the drastic change, according to a report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, isn't just the type of house you live in, but what you put inside.

"It's not how old the home is, it's the furnishings," Jack Watts, Director of the Fire Safety Institute, told AOL Real Estate.



A spokesperson for the National Association of State Fire Marshals told AOL Real Estate that the worst culprit in home fires is upholstered furniture, because it often contains highly flammable polyurethane foam. These all-too-common materials provide the fuel for what fire experts call the flashover -- the point at which everything in the room simultaneously bursts into flames. It doesn't help that many of today's homes are built with more open floor plans and modern building materials like wallboard that can lead to faster fires, according to the Wichita Eagle.

The numbers show an alarming trend. In 1977, the first year when data was available, there were 750,000 residential fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. In 2010, there were roughly half that many, thanks in large part to widespread use of smoke detectors. But the incredible speed with which home fires can spread in today's homes represents a major step backward in fire safety.

The Hot Topic of Sprinklers

The next step in home fire safety, a spokesperson for the NASFM said, is to require fire sprinklers in new residential properties. Homebuilders bristle at the idea due to the high cost of installation. The national average cost to install sprinklers is $1.60 per square foot, according to the Wichita Eagle. In a 2,000-square-foot home, that comes out to about $3,200.

Another barrier is public opinion. As we reported last year, when given the choice between granite countertops and fire sprinklers, respondents overwhelmingly chose the countertops, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

(To find out if your state requires fire sprinklers in new construction, check out the Fire Sprinkler Initiative website.)

Worse still, there are only voluntary flammability regulations for upholstered furniture. Implementing a nationwide standard would go a long way in protecting consumers from purchasing dangerously flammable furnishings, the NASFM spokesperson said.

Regardless of what state legislators decide, though, it all comes down to vigilance, says Fire Safety Institute Director Watts.

If you'll be using a live Christmas tree this holiday season, make sure to water it regularly and keep an eye on any decorative lighting and candles. And, as always, make sure your house is equipped with working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. For a terrifying glimpse at a Christmas tree "flashover," watch the video above. 

Tags: long island, fire, burn, fire safety, new york, building materials, holiday season, safety

The Power of Disaster Kleenup International (DKI)

Posted on Mon, Oct 24, 2011 @ 12:29 PM

It has been awhile since our last blog post.  In that time we have seen a few disasters hit the Long Island and New York City metropolitan area.  There was the flooding due to heavy rains on August 14th and Hurricane Irene that blew through here a few weeks later.  Unfortunately, both instances caused severe property damage to many homes and businesses throughout our area. 

Advanced Restoration's call volume increased 800% over those 2 months compared to the same time last year when there was no severe weather occurrences.  Our staff handled the tremendous increase in workload with the usual care and professionalism our clients are used to.  They were tremendous in assisting the plethora of very upset and distraught home and business owners. But honestly we would not have been able to pull it all off without our association with Disaster Kleenup International (DKI), which we have been a Member Company of for over 3 years. 

For those of you who might not be familiar with DKI here is a recap. 

Disaster Kleenup International is North America’s largest property damage restoration contracting organization.  Disaster Kleenup International (DKI) was founded in 1974 by a small group of restoration contractors seeking the benefits of a collaborative business and personal network.  In the early years of its history, the DKI organization focused on providing networking opportunities for Members and establishing a reputation in the marketplace for high-quality property restoration.  The DKI organization has expanded its offerings to include educational and training programs, co-operative buying opportunities, national networking events, corporate branding and marketing efforts and much more. 

The ability to provide quality disaster response planning and emergency response services to clients throughout the United States and Canada is a main reason that DKI is North America’s largest disaster restoration contracting organizations.  With over 400 service locations throughout the United States and Canada DKI is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  DKI members return damaged property to its pre-loss condition quickly and efficiently, delivering complete satisfaction to our customers.

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If it was not for this association we would not have been able to service the influx of calls we received during those catastrophes.  On Sunday August 14th, the first two calls we received utilized over 250 pieces of our drying equipment.  Between those two jobs and all our running jobs we only had a few more pieces of equipment left to service all the other calls that were coming into our office.  I placed a call to DKI Member Company Royal Plus in Maryland, and less than 8 hours later they had an eighteen wheeler filled with over 750 pieces of drying equipment at our office to help us service all our customers.  The truck was onsite here at my office for just under two weeks.  And when Hurricane Irene hit Long Island, Royal Plus sent that truck back up again so we could service all our clients that were affected.  Also with the other New York DKI Member Companies, we were referring losses to each other based upon our geographical area.  It was all about servicing the client while putting aside each companies personal interests.

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Besides the equipment rental, every DKI Member is always around to give me their advice or share an experience that they learned from.  I have learned so much just from the Member Companies in the DKI Northeast Chapter.  It has been invaluable. 

Tags: hurricane irene, long island, property damage, dki, advanced restoration, disaster kleenup international, new york city, severe weather

Got Mold? What Every New York Homeowner Needs to Know

Posted on Thu, Jun 02, 2011 @ 05:19 PM
mold,mold removal,mold abatement,mold remediation,long island,new york,indoor air quality,mold contaminationLong Island and the rest of New York and the Northeast was devastated from the recent flooding caused by torrential rain, wind, and storm damage. A majority of flooded basements across Long Island were caused by ground water due to over-saturation of the earth.  Insurance companies do not cover ground water under their policies. 

You have to have a separate Flood Insurance if you fall into the Flood Coverage Area.  And that only covers ground water damage to structures that are above grade.  Basements are not above grade so they would be excluded from those policies if they were flooded. 

That means there were many Long Island homeowners that had flooded basements that were not covered by their insurance policy.   

For some people this is too much.  There are a lot of people in hardship right now across Long Island due to the economic times we live in.  If they did not hire a professional restoration company or water damage cleanup company like Advanced Restoration Corporation, they had to extract / remove the water themselves or rely on friends and/or family to help them out.

Just because the water is removed, does not mean your job is over.  The wet porous building materials need to be removed, or dried along with the structural wood members so their moisture content levels are reduced to regional acceptable standards.  
And some people will just ignore the water in the basement or the leaky roof, thinking it will dry out on its own.  And technically, everything that gets wet will eventually dry, if it can.  And not every water intrusion causes severe mold contamination.  It all depends on the size of the area and the lenght of time the area has been wet without any attention.  

At this  point you should ask yourself this:
  • How long will it take?
  • Can the wet building materials dry out before mold contamination can occur (usually 48-72 hours in optimum conditions)?

If wet building materials are not addressed in a timely fashion then the problem magnifies exponentially over time until it becomes a much bigger and more expensive issue.

The issue of mold has always been an extremely hot topic in both the insurance and restoration industries. Over the past few years there has also been a great deal of media attention on the subject of mold remediation. Articles have appeared in major publications such as The Wall Street Journal as well as televised on popular shows such as 48 Hours, Primetime and even Oprah. In some cases, a homeowner is shown speaking to a reporter explaining how the mold has completely ruined their home and belongings to the point that the home had to be burned down by the local fire department because there was no other way of solving the contamination issues.

This type of media attention may help with ratings and sales of newspapers and magazines but it is certainly not realistic. It is important to understand that mold is ubiquitous and the goal of remediation is to bring the indoor air quality to an acceptable level.  Should moisture be introduced into the indoor environment, mold growth will likely occur.  In nearly every case of fungal contamination, a home and many of its contents can be cleaned of mold growth. What is never mentioned is how this can be achieved. We can recommend and apply several proven techniques such as "HEPA sandwich" cleaning or baking soda blasting. Because the media is not educated in the field nor do they fully understand, the public is often misled and does not understand the very real dangers of fungal contamination.

Another way to look at the current mold situation is to compare it to the asbestos issues we encountered in the 1970's and 1980's. The media was undoubtedly responsible for magnifying the fears of the public. As the demand for abatement quickly increased many companies rushed to capitalize on the situation without being experienced or formally educated. This in turn leads to bad advice and overreaction. If mold remediation contractors are able to accurately educate and communicate with homeowners and insurance companies these issues could be resolved without unnecessary expense and anguish.

Mold contamination and mold remediation may not be as bad as the sensationalized media makes it out to be. Although there is definitely some health risks associated with mold exposure, in particular Stachybotrys or black mold, it is important that it is dealt with appropriately. Regardless of the level of contamination to your residential, commercial, or industrial building on Long Island and New York City, you can rest assured that we posses the technology, education and ability to successfully complete your project in the most efficient and cost-effective way. Please do not hesitate in calling us for information or guidance on any of your mold related projects. We are here to help in any way possible. We are members of the Indoor Air Quality Association and hold our certifications through the IICRC and RIA.

Please do not hesitate to Contact Us for any assistance or guidance if you have or even think you have a mold issue in the Long Island and New York City areas.  We would be more than happy to speak with you.


Tags: mold abatement, long island, mold, new york, mold remediation, new york city, mold removal, indoor air quality, flooded basements, wet building material, mold contamination

Long Island: Protect Yourself from West Nile

Posted on Mon, Sep 06, 2010 @ 10:43 AM

At the halfway point in the August and September season for mosquito-borne diseases, state health officials remind Hoosiers to stay vigilant in protecting themselves from the West Nile virus.

Two human cases of West Nile virus were reported this week -- one each in Allen and Marion counties. In addition, mosquito groups in 31 counties have tested positive for the virus.

"These two cases, along with the recent increase in positive West Nile virus mosquitoes, do cause some concern," said Jennifer House, veterinary epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health.

Mosquito-transmitted diseases commonly occur when mosquitoes are more active because of hot weather, House said.

Northwest Indiana has reported only two batches of mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile Virus in Lake County and one each in Porter, LaPorte and Jasper Counties.

"Mosquitoes in Indiana can spread several different diseases, including West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis (one of the deadliest forms), St. Louis encephalitis and La Crosse encephalitis. All have the potential to cause serious illnesses," House said.

According to www.statehealth .in.gov , West Nile virus is transmitted to a human by a mosquito that has first bitten an infected bird. A person who is bitten by an infected mosquito may show symptoms from three to 15 days after the bite.

Culex mosquitoes, which can carry the West Nile virus, breed in places like ditches, open septic systems, discarded tires, unused wading pools and other containers, particularly if they are in the shade.

No bird or equine West Nile infections have been confirmed in Indiana, but two batches of mosquitoes have tested positive for deadly Eastern equine encephalitis in Elkhart County.

Tags: west nile, suffolk county, prevent, long island, new york, nassau county, moaquito, disease

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