Emergency Preparedness is Key and Not Just For Hurricanes

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Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters Urges Homeowners and Business Owners to Have a Plan for Property Damage

George Keys

September's National Preparedness Month is the perfect reminder to be ready for anything that might damage your property

September 10th is officially the peak of hurricane season and the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (FAPIA), in partnership with FEMA, is urging commercial and residential property owners to mark National Preparedness Month in September by planning for emergencies both big and small.

Florida has been fortunate this season not to have experienced any major weather events, however, this can often result in people becoming complacent with their preparedness plans. The FAPIA is reminding Floridians to evaluate their storm plans to include a full understanding of their property insurance policies and their obligations in the event of damage. Moreover, commercial and residential policyholders should be ready for smaller, everyday emergencies like plumbing leaks, kitchen fires, and other property-damaging incidents. As the statewide association advocating for insurance policyholders, the organization encourages homeowners and business owners to have a plan and disaster kit that includes along with food and water and insurance documents – contact information for a trusted public adjuster.

"In a hurricane-prone state like Florida, it is easy for policyholders to think of these storms as the only emergencies for which we need to prepare," said FAPIA President George Keyes. "But as public adjusters, so many of the damaging events we help consumers deal with are smaller in scope, but nonetheless costly events like fires, plumbing floods and the like. September’s National Preparedness Month is the perfect reminder to be ready for anything that might damage your property."

Having a trusted public adjuster can ease the burden for policyholders faced with damage, whether it is from a hurricane or a burst water pipe that ruins a home’s walls, cabinets or tile floors. Public adjusters are the only licensed, bonded and trained advocates who work exclusively for insured policyholders, preparing, presenting and adjusting claims on their behalf. Policyholders who move too hastily and without proper counsel run the risk of making unnecessary fixes that insurance policies don't cover, or of fixing damage before getting the documentation necessary to get their claim paid. FAPIA urges policyholders to prepare now by taking these simple but important steps:

1. Make a visual record of your home and possessions. Use your digital camera, smart phone or video recorder to document the condition of your home and belongings before any damage.

2. Prepare a detailed list of all your personal and business property before a disaster strikes. This will help document your claim after a loss.

3. Gather up receipts for large items such as major appliances, furniture and electronics; make copies to include with your property inventory.

4. Create a disaster supply kit that includes copies of your insurance policies, family medical information, deeds and wills, etc. Place the originals of those important documents in a safe deposit box, safe or in a tightly sealed container in your car.

5. Carefully review your insurance coverage to determine your deductible on any potential loss.

6. Know your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding, and wind; confirm whether your policy covers such damage.

7. Review the “Duties After Loss” section of your policy. Failure to follow the provisions listed in this section could result in non-payment on your legitimate claim. Check the “Exclusions” portion of your windstorm policy. Many insurance companies have added new exclusions to coverage, which could affect your protection.

8. If you plan to retain an insurance professional to process your claim, research now to find a licensed FAPIA member you trust. To identify licensed FAPIA members in your market, visit http://www.FAPIA.net and print out contact information. Keep this contact information in your disaster kit.

For more information on Public Insurance Adjusters, and to download this checklist, visit http://www.WhoIsYourPublicAdjuster.com.

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About FAPIA

FAPIA was founded in 1992 to protect residential and business policyholders in the wake of devastating Hurricane Andrew in South Florida. Today FAPIA consists of nearly 400 members who are committed to ensuring homeowners who suffer an insured loss receive full and fair compensation from their insurance carriers. Based in Miami, FAPIA members are located throughout the state and commit to a strict code of ethics as well as continuing education requirements to ensure policyholders receive the best representation. FAPIA is an advocate for the consumer and for its members, working to grow and enhance the industry by improving laws and regulations that govern public adjusters and their services to policyholders.
For more information, visit fapia.net or http://www.WhoIsYourPublicAdjuster.com.

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