After the Thaw – Take Action When Your Business Suffers Frozen Pipes


After the Thaw – Take Action When Your Business Suffers Frozen Pipes


In addition to record low temperatures throughout the Midwest, the recent polar vortex also brings with it the risk of frozen pipes in your commercial property. If left unnoticed, frozen pipes can be devastating to the structure of your building as well as the operation of your business. Though the time for taking precautionary steps may have passed, it is never too late to be attentive to the threat of frozen pipes, or to respond quickly should the threat become reality. This blog will share with you what steps need to be taken in order to keep the damage to your commercial property to a minimum. Contact us now for immediate help.

Look Out For Warnings Signs

Pay attention to water flow.

One of the most telling signs of frozen pipes in commercial property is the absence of running water during the winter. If you receive complaints from anybody in your building about interrupted water flow, or notice this yourself, immediately consider frozen pipes as a possible cause.

Noticeably odd smells

The blockages on frozen pipes prevent water, air, and other materials from being transported away from your property. This means that unpleasant odors can often travel back to your property from these pipes. If you notice or hear about consistent strange smells on your property during the winter, investigate your pipes further.

Staining on ceilings/Damp drywall

As pipes thaw out, leaking or broken pipes will release water and damp drywall or wet rings on the ceiling are definite indicators that there is a problem. Water coming from drop ceilings or dripping from a ceiling that isn’t just below a roofline are other signs. Also look for puddles or places where water may be accumulating that it shouldn’t.

Sinkholes

Sinkholes in the yard could be a sign that there is a break in one of the main underground pipes.

Know the Risks

Frozen pipes present several risks to your commercial property and your business. These risks may start off as simply interruptive (unhappy tenants, decreased productivity, for example) and, if left unresolved, can grow to become a devastating problem. A burst pipe could lead to flooding, hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of damages or more, and a complex commercial insurance claim. If you suspect that your commercial property may be at risk for frozen pipes, do not rule out the worst-case scenario. Rather, remain as diligent as possible to prevent it from coming true.

Taking Action

Once you have ensured that the destructive event is over and your people are safe, you must notify your insurance company of the damage to your property.

Once you suspect that there are frozen pipes in your commercial property, the most important course of action is to:

    • Act quickly to identify the extent of the damage and thaw out the pipes
    • Work with a professional to prevent any further damage
    • Know your insurance coverage

→ Frozen pipes are covered by most commercial property insurance policies, but consult your policy thoroughly, or have an experienced public adjuster review it for you;
→ If you do have coverage for frozen pipes, determine the policy limit to gauge what your financial responsibility may be; and
→ Be diligent about fulfilling all of your responsibilities throughout your insurance claim process as there are a number of obligations the insurance company places on you!

Conclusion

Frozen pipes in a commercial property can be a harsh reality during significant winter weather events. When freezing temperatures begin, the opportunities for preventative measures end. However, it is never too late to be attentive. Become aware of the telltale signs of frozen pipes and of the steps to take immediately if they are identified on your property. By doing so, you will minimize the damages frozen pipes threaten to bring to your commercial property and business.

If you feel you have a broken pipe and are considering or have made an insurance claim, please feel free to contact Stuart Dorf at 248-915-0399 or email sdorf@globemwai.com for further assistance.

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How to Be Sure You’re Meeting the Requirements in Your Commercial Property Damage Insurance Claim

How to Be Sure You’re Meeting the Requirements in Your Commercial Property Damage Insurance Claim

When your property sustains damage, the commercial insurance claim that follows is a considerable burden to shoulder, and it places multiple complicated and critical responsibilities in your lap. Though every policy varies, the key to success in navigating them is the same: knowledge is power.

First and foremost, each commercial insurance policy is different. However, there are responsibilities to which property owners are typically held by their insurance companies during a commercial insurance claim. When your property sustains damage, what follows is a whirlwind of activity: you will be responsible for many simultaneously moving pieces under specific, critical deadlines. Minimize the hecticness of the situation by remaining organized and accountable. In most commercial insurance claim scenarios, you as the insured will be held to the following responsibilities:

Time-Sensitive Requirements

Right off the bat, know that a commercial insurance claim is not a linear process. It is made up of several important deadlines, and you will have to juggle many responsibilities at the same time. One of the most crucial elements of your claim to know is the time requirements outlined within it. Comb through your policy to determine deadlines for the following:

  • Notifying your insurance company of the loss
  • Mitigation efforts and costs
  • Rebuilding and replacement costs
  • Disputing any aspect of your claim

Know Your Policy

When taking on the challenge of studying your commercial insurance policy, keep the following in mind:

  • Be aware of which risks are insured by your policy and which are not.
  • Understand the extent to which damage to your property’s structure, fixtures, and furnishings are covered.
  • Know your policy limit in order to determine your own financial responsibility.
  • Know and document what the value of your property was prior to the loss.
  • Calculate and document the cost of restoring your property to pre-loss condition.

By knowing these essentials, you’ll empower yourself to determine the parameters of both your responsibilities and your insurance company’s. Due to the complicated and high-stakes nature of a commercial insurance claim, it is extremely advisable that you consult with a public adjuster throughout this process.

Prompt Notification

Once you have ensured that the destructive event is over and your people are safe, you must notify your insurance company of the damage to your property.

Duty to Mitigate

Your insurance company will conduct a thorough investigation of the damages following your commercial insurance claim. However, it is your obligation (that’s right, your insurance policy states that you must) take all available measures to prevent further damage.

Document Damaged Property

It is difficult to stress how important documentation is in the midst of a commercial insurance claim. You are responsible for accounting for and demonstrating the items in/on your property that will need replacing.

  • Take detailed photos and videos of the damaged segments of your property.
  • Keep a written record of the destruction, outlining all of the items and structures that have sustained damage. You are responsible for providing your insurance company with the values of your lost business items, so take care to be as detailed as possible.
  • Include serial numbers, receipts of purchase, and thorough descriptions of the items and structures needing replacement whenever possible. This will raise the likelihood that you’ll be reimbursed fairly by your insurance company.

Navigating the clauses and seemingly endless pages of a commercial insurance policy can make property owners feel as though they’re barely staying afloat. As complex as a commercial property insurance policy can be, it is crucial that you understand the obligations placed on you when you’ve experienced a property loss and need to make a commercial insurance claim. Your insurance policy is a contract – both you and your insurance company have responsibilities to uphold it with diligence and integrity. By remembering this and taking the outlined steps, you’ll be poised to face this challenge head on.

Commercial Property Damage: An Insurance Claims Primer

Dealing with a disaster recovery for your business is no easy task. Download our Insurance Claims Primer as a resource to help you through the turmoil.

Commercial Property Damage: An Insurance Claims Primer

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Three Reasons Your Insurance Agent Cannot Help You With Your Commercial Property Insurance Claim

Three Reasons Your Insurance Agent Cannot Help You With Your Commercial Property Insurance Claim

Every day, insurance agents help craft and put into place the right insurance coverage for commercial property and business owners. But buying commercial property insurance is different than using your insurance. In the event you have to use your insurance — that is, you’ve suffered commercial property damage — a whole new set of rules, regulations and timeframes come into play. The terms of your insurance policy places the responsibility squarely on you, the policyholder, to prove and substantiate your claim.

This realization can be frustrating, intimidating, and may leave you feeling helpless when you are thrown into the complex world of a commercial property insurance claim. Below are three reasons to help you understand why your agent is limited in his or her ability to help you with your claim, and where you can find the help you need.

Agents Work in the Front of the House

Compare the insurance industry to a restaurant. There’s the “front of the house,” where a trained staff sells the customers what they want. And there’s the “back of the house,” where the chef, prep crew, and dishwashers toil to make everything about the meal look appetizing.

Agents work in the front of the house. And they work hard to provide a quality service for their commercial insurance customers. But expecting them to do it all — take your order, prepare your meal, and do your dishes — is a setup for disappointment.

Insurance Carriers Control the Claim Process

Filing a commercial insurance claim is like playing a game with someone who knows the rules far better than you, and they are not required to tell you how to play.

When you report your loss, which your insurance policy requires you to do promptly, you are passed immediately to the Claims Department — a division within the insurance company designed exclusively to protect the interests of the carrier, not the policyholder.

The insurance company’s claims adjuster will investigate your loss, which you are required by your policy to allow. He or she also will create an estimate of your damages, recommend vendors and contractors from within the carrier’s network for your repairs, and make a settlement offer. Your policy assumes you will provide your own proof, too.

Your Property, Your Responsibility

It may seem like your agent and/or insurance company should have to help you achieve a fair settlement when your commercial property is damaged. After all, you buy insurance so you will be compensated if you have a loss. But it’s your property, and therefore your responsibility, to determine what your damages are worth.

Filing a commercial property insurance claim is like any other major undertaking — you get out of it what you put into it. And there is much that goes into making sure you get the settlement you deserve:

  • Read and understand your entire policy, not just the Declarations Page(s).
  • Meet all the contractual obligations and deadlines in your policy.
  • Document your damages with numerous and detailed photos, video and written descriptions.
  • Determine how best to apply your policy coverages and endorsements.
  • Gather estimates for the replacement or repair of buildings, inventory, equipment, etc.
  • File all the necessary documents.
  • Prove and defend your valuations for damages.
  • Negotiate settlement amounts for damage to your building(s); FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment); additional incurred expenses; and, if endorsed to the policy, business interruption losses.

Public Adjusters Level the Playing Field

Ensuring a full and fair settlement for your damages takes time and requires you to become a master of many things — policy interpretation, mitigation, documentation, restoration, valuation, negotiation — all while you’re preoccupied with putting the rest of your life back together.

Your insurance carrier will maintain control of your claim process, but they cannot require you to go through it alone or force you to accept less than your damages are worth. You always have the option to consult with a licensed public insurance adjuster, which, in effect, serves as your own Claims Department.

Business Owner’s Guide to Getting the Most for Your Property Insurance Claim

Dealing with a disaster recovery for your business is no easy task. Download our Disaster Recovery tips as a resource to help you through the turmoil.

Four Signals That You’ll Settle for Less Than Your Commercial Property Insurance Claim is Worth

Four Signals That You’ll Settle for Less Than Your Commercial Property Insurance Claim is Worth

It’s true: many of the claims an insurance company handles settle without dispute. But a lack of dispute does not mean the outcome was fair. In fact, our experience shows most commercial insurance policyholders are underpaid for their claim — and they don’t even know it.

Here are four signals commercial policyholders give their insurance companies when they are likely to settle for less than their claim is worth. If you’ve suffered commercial property damage and can check any of the boxes below, you may be giving off these signals and should consider talking with a public insurance adjuster about your commercial property insurance claim.

Failing to read and understand your policy

Admitting to your commercial insurance carrier that you don’t know or understand what is in your policy is the first clear signal that you are ripe for accepting a low settlement offer.

Of course knowing what’s in your policy is no small task. A commercial property insurance policy is typically 40-plus pages of the most confusing language known to humankind. Still, when you suffer property damage, the language in your policy is all that matters in your claim.

Failing to understand the terms of your commercial policy, especially if there’s been a substantial loss, is a clear call to have a public insurance adjuster review your policy and damages. Licensed public adjusters are policy and loss experts who work exclusively for policyholders. They have no affiliation with any insurance carriers and can give you a fair assessment of what to expect from your claim.

Relying on the insurance company for help in the claim process

Filing a commercial property damage claim is like taking a final exam on your first day of class. You might be able to guess correctly on some of the answers, but your chances of earning an “A” are slim.

Insurance companies are experts at controlling the claim process, and they have no obligation to educate you about it. In fact, all commercial insurance policies place the burden to prove a loss solely on the policyholder.

Written into your commercial policy is language that requires you to:

  • Meet all the contractual obligations and deadlines outlined in your policy. These include, but are not limited to, mitigation, prompt notification, and cooperation with your insurance company’s investigation of your loss.
  • Document the full extent of damage to your building(s) and contents with photos, video, and detailed written descriptions.
  • Substantiate the value of your damages with receipts, posted prices for the same or similar items, and other proof.
  • Present a demand for compensation that will provide sufficient funds to return your property to pre-loss condition.

Allowing the insurance company to lead this process is the sure path to a low settlement.

Claiming for only a portion of the loss

Unless you are a commercial insurance expert, you run a very real risk of being unable to uncover everything your policy promises. After all, if it were easy to uncover, all property claims would settle effortlessly and for the maximum amount available under the terms of the policy.

Often, when a commercial property insurance claim settles for less than it should, it is because the documentation is weak. When it comes to your commercial insurance claim, it is not possible to provide too much documentation of your damages, too much detail in your estimates to replace or repair your property, or too much proof of the property’s value at the time of loss. Fall short on any of these, and your settlement will fall short of compensating you for your loss.

Losing patience with the process

To settle a commercial insurance claim successfully requires you to suddenly become a master of policy language and interpretation, insurance and contract law, damage and repair estimates, construction and restoration methods and materials, project management, commercial insurance policy administration, and hardball negotiation — all while you’re trying to keep the rest of your life on track.

It’s risky to lose patience with the claim process. Commercial insurance claims take time to resolve. Signaling impatience sometimes can speed things up, but it comes at the cost of a lesser settlement.

Business Owner’s Guide to Getting the Most for Your Property Insurance Claim

Dealing with a disaster recovery for your business is no easy task. Download our Disaster Recovery tips as a resource to help you through the turmoil.

How to Know When You Should Hire a Public Adjuster

How to Know When You Should Hire a Public Adjuster

Whether it’s for the home or a business, filing a property insurance claim is stressful. While a business owner may not be dealing with the same sort of sentimental losses they’d encounter if something happened to their home, they do have concerns about how a loss will affect their company and their workforce. Business owners have busy schedules, which means they don’t have time to deal with insurers’ stall tactics. However, a public adjuster works on your behalf, correctly interpreting your policy and negotiating with your insurer to settle the claim. Here, you’ll learn a few compelling reasons to hire a public adjuster before making a claim.

Getting a Better Settlement

Though a public adjuster receives a portion of your settlement, recoveries are typically higher even after fees. As an owner, you likely don’t have time to read the fine print on your insurance policy, but that’s a public adjuster’s job. During a claim, a public adjuster will use his or her policy knowledge to ensure you get the largest possible settlement.

Digging Deeper

Policyholders often don’t realize which types of damages they can claim, and that’s just the way insurers like it. When filing a claim, public adjusters know which types of coverage to look for, and they may uncover problems not detected by the insurance adjuster.

Focusing on Your Business

With the help of a public adjuster, you can shift your focus from the claim back to your business. In most cases, work must continue, even after a significant loss. When you work with a public adjuster, you can go back to running your company without worrying about the minute details of a property damage claim.

Getting Faster Results

As a business owner, it’s your goal to sort your claim out so you can put the loss behind you and get on with things. However, insurers sometimes delay claims for unknown reasons. Public adjusters are well-versed in the claims process, and they know which documents to include during submission. A public adjuster knows about common hold-ups and how to avoid or handle them.

In Closing

Filing a property damage claim is a significant drain on your resources and time, just when the company needs your undivided attention. Today, business owners are increasingly realizing the advantages of working with public adjusters, such as reduced stress, bigger settlements, and increased claims documentation experience. It’s important to choose a public adjuster who is licensed to work in your state. While requirements vary, in every case, you should evaluate public adjusters thoroughly before making a hiring decision.

High-pressure sales tactics are a big sign to look elsewhere, as are a lack of industry and personal references. When considering hiring a public adjuster, be sure to ask for references from cases they’ve handled over the last few years and contact them if possible. It may seem tedious and time-consuming to verify multiple references, but if you have suffered a severe loss at your place of business, it’s important to have an experienced, capable adjuster in your corner.

Business Owner’s Guide to Getting the Most for Your Property Insurance Claim

Dealing with a disaster recovery for your business is no easy task. Download our Disaster Recovery tips as a resource to help you through the turmoil.

Hurricane Michael: Do You Have Your Public Adjuster On Speed Dial?

Hurricane Michael: Do You Have Your Public Adjuster On Speed Dial?

The professionals at Globe Midwest Adjusters International have been closely monitoring Hurricane Michael and its aftermath. We understand that when devastation strikes, it not only affects your business and property, but also YOU, as the chaos, confusion and conflicting information regarding your property and insurance policies can be overwhelming.

Globe Midwest represents commercial property and business owners, and works with property managers, law firms and CPAs to ensure policyholders navigate the insurance claim process and receive a fair and just settlement of their property insurance claim!

We understand how important it is to get your business and/or property back up and running.

How can Globe Midwest help you?

If your business or commercial property suffered any type of severe damage for which you an insurance claim will be made . . .

    • We will review and explain your insurance policy and the available coverage applicable to your claim, including additional coverages such as code upgrade, etc . . .
    • Investigate and analyze all property damage to your building, commercial contents and business.
    • Prepare a well-documented repair cost estimate on your building and all damaged and destroyed contents.
    • Coordinate all inspections and meetings with the insurance company’s employee/adjusters including all of their “outside experts”
    • Review all relevant financial information and financial projections to determine best approach for your business interruption claim.
    • Communicate with the insurance company adjuster and their forensic accountant to obtain ongoing agreements and partial payments throughout the claim period.
    • Provide project management services for a streamlined experience during remediation activities.

If you or your clients have affected commercial properties or businesses please don’t hesitate to contact us directly.

A Public Adjuster Can Help Resolve Your Property Insurance Claim In The Aftermath Of Hurricane Michael