Farmers Cares, by Paul Quinn

FAQ

Insurance Check Cashing?

Hi Paul, If I cash the insurance check that was given me, without the work beginning, will that make any difference with work done?

I need to make a lot of assumptions here so I will give it my best shot. Feel free to write back with more information. I am going to assume you are talking about direct repairs to your home. Sometimes contractors want to have half up front so if you cash the check without the work beginning, and spend it, you may not have the funds to get the work done. As long as you do not spend the money, and you just deposit the funds there should be no issues. In essence it is your money (and perhaps your lender) so it is yours to do with as you wish. My advice is cautionary. Put it in a special account so that it is there when you do the repairs.

FAQ

Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) Coverage for Hit and Run?

Paul, If a car was parked in a parking lot and was hit by a hit and run driver. Would my insurance be covered under UIMPD for hit and run?

Great question and one I hear frequently. For UMPD (Uninsured Motorist Property Damage) coverage to apply the other driver/vehicle must be identified. In the case of hit and run, I assume the driver cannot be identified. Therefore collision would apply.

Hurricane Arthur: Last Minute Prep Checklist

The National Hurricane Center announced this morning that Tropical Storm Arthur has become the Atlantic season’s first hurricane and areas of North Carolina have already been ordered to evacuate.

In addition to the captioned Farmers Insurance video above, The Institute for Business and Home Safety also provides the following checklist to help property owners prepare for the high winds, rain and flooding that usually accompany tropical weather systems. Stay safe and please follow any evacuation orders given by local authorities.

Outside Surroundings

  • Secure any parts of a fence that appear weakened or loose.
  •  Trim trees and shrubbery away from structures and remove any weakened sections of trees that might easily break off and fall onto structures.
  • Move lawn furniture, toys, potted plants, garden tools and other yard objects inside; anchor heavier yard objects deep into the ground.

Windows and Doors

  • If you have shutters, closely monitor local weather conditions and make sure you have enough time to deploy them before the storm is expected to hit your area.
  • Check doors, windows, and walls for openings where water can get in; use silicone caulk to seal any cracks, gaps, or holes – especially around openings where cables and pipes enter the house.

Water Damage Reduction

  • Place all appliances that are on the ground floor, including stoves, washers and dryers on masonry blocks or concrete.
  • Move furniture and electronic devices off the floor, particularly in basements and first floor levels.
  • Roll up area rugs, and get them off the floor to reduce the chances they will become wet and grow mold or mildew. This is particularly important if the property will be left unattended for an extended period of time and if long-term power outages are a possibility.
  • Put fresh batteries in sump pumps.
  • Shut off electrical service at the main breaker if the electrical system and outlets could possibly be under water.

 

FAQ

Time Limit for Filing Hail Damage Claim

Hi Paul, what is the time limit for filing a claim for hail damage?

Thanks for the question. It is usually one year from the storm. However each state may have different reporting requirements depending on the storm. Always check with your agent, but you can file your claim and let the insurance company know of your damage. They will meet with you to review.

Flash Flood Safety

As parts of the United States experience thunderstorms that are producing flash flooding this week and weekend, I am reposting these DisasterSafety.org flood safety tips:

Flash Flood Safety

  • Be aware that flash flooding is very dangerous and can move quickly. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Be aware of stream, drainage channels, canyons and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without typical warnings such as rain clouds or heavy rain.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly. In fact, two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams, rivers or creeks, particularly during threatening conditions.

Flash Flood Watches and Warnings

Flash Flood Watch

If flash flooding is possible, be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.

Flash Flood Warning

If a flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

Please be sure to take all instructions by your local authorities seriously, and if they have ask you to evacuate, please do so. It could save your life and the life of your loved ones.

FAQ

Vehicle Insurance Coverage, Parking Lot Hit and Run.

Hi Paul, My car was parked in a parking lot and was hit by a hit and run driver. Would my insurance call this vandalism or collision?

Thanks for the question. If your vehicle was struck by a hit and run driver, this is a collision loss. Vandalism would apply if the loss did not involve another vehicle, such as someone took a hammer to your car, or put spray paint on it. But as long as the damage was by a vehicle, collision is the applicable coverage under your policy.

Yard Maintenance Can Prevent Property Damage

One of the biggest dangers from hurricanes and high winds is flying debris that can damage buildings and endanger people. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety recommends the following maintenance and improvements you can make to your property to reduce the risk of property damage:

  • Replace gravel/rock landscaping materials and walkways with a softer material, such as mulch or dirt. Work with neighbors to make sure everyone’s home is protected from this risk. In a particularly strong hurricane, gravel has been found in mail boxes and has shredded vinyl siding.
  • Trim trees and shrubbery away from structures and remove any weakened sections of trees that might easily break off and fall onto structures. Review IBHS’ Reducing Tree Damage guide, which explains what problem areas to look for in your trees and shrubs, how to prune them before a storm, and recommended actions for storm-damaged trees.
  • Trim away any limbs close to utility lines that could potentially pull down lines or even entire polls. It is important to never touch a wire and trimming should usually be done by a contractor or the local utility company itself.
  • Remove yard debris, such as tree trimmings, promptly in order to reduce the risks of flying debris. It is also important to place yard debris in an area that could not cause the debris to go into streets and eventually clog drains during a storm’s heavy downpour.
  • Secure any parts of your fencing that appear weakened or loose. Hurricane-force winds can easily dislodge boards and pieces from a fence, creating flying debris.
  • Before a storm arrives, move loose objects in the yard inside, such as lawn chairs, toys, garbage cans or signs, and secure heavier objects deeper into the ground.

Always remember that regular property maintenance can prevent potential damage and costly repairs.

Joplin Tornado-proofs New Hospital

If you recall, back in 2011, I covered my visit to Joplin, Missouri where a 200-mph tornado impacted an area 6 miles long and 12 blocks wide, killing 158 people, including six at the local hospital, formerly known as St. John’s Regional Medical Center.

Now, three years later, Joplin is building a new facility which will be known as Mercy Hospital Joplin. Of course one of the main priorities is to make sure it is tornado proof. About $11 million of Mercy’s $350 million in construction costs is being spent on storm-hardening upgrades. The new hospital will include breakage-resistant windows which can withstand high winds. Hospital representatives report that the goal is that the new facility is designed to provide a safe environment for patients, staff and visitors from a direct hit by an EF-3 or greater tornado.

When the hospital is complete next March, there will be two lines of power, water and data communications coming from different directions in case one fails. A concrete tunnel, the length of one-and-a-half football fields, will protect utility lines from severe weather. The electrical plant and backup generators will be housed in a bunker-like structure away from the main building and each floor of the hospital will have special hallways designated as safe zones, with reinforced walls, ceilings and lighting. Emergency grab bags with crucial supplies will be strategically stashed throughout the 880,000-square-foot campus.

We continue to partner with Rebuild Joplin and the St. Bernard Project in 2014 to assist with rebuilding. Almost 200 employees volunteered their time to help rebuild houses so families could return home. It didn’t matter if they had construction experience; our volunteers were determined to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the storm.  For the past two years we have returned to assist in helping the people in Joplin rebuild and move forward.

Farmers Cares at the time of a catastrophe, and in partnership with the Rebuild Joplin and St. Bernard Project, for many months thereafter.

Debris from 2011 Joplin tornado with the former St. John’s Regional Medical Center in the background

Top photo credit: Yahoo news

Bottom photo credit: Farmers Insurance

Reduce Your Risk from Wildfire Embers

Thousands of residents have been evacuated due to a rare confluence of fast-moving wildfires scorching Southern California. California Fire Division Chief Dave Allen said nine fires have burned 9,095 acres and San Diego County district supervisor Bill Horn said Wednesday evening that eight fires were burning in the region, seven of which popped up that day.

Investigators haven’t yet determined the cause of these fires but what is unique is that there are so many fires, so quick and so early in the season.

No matter the cause, did you know embers can travel more than a mile from a wildfire? The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) give the following tips and information regarding wildfire embers.

  • A Class A fire rated roof covering can dramatically reduce ember risks for a home – installing this kind of roof can be done when building a new home or re-roofing an existing home.
  • In addition to a more resilient roof, The IBHS urges homeowners to remove vegetation and other flammable debris from their roof and gutters to prevent ignition from windborne embers – this is something that can be done anytime to existing homes.
  • Other key areas of a home that are vulnerable to wildfire embers include vents. Proper screening over vents is important because embers can enter a home through these openings and ignite combustible materials inside the building, and it can burn from the inside out.
  • The IBHS explains that vents in the blocking of open-eave construction are more vulnerable to ember entry than those located in soffited eaves and gable end and similar vents also are vulnerable to the entry of embers.

You may also see other wildfire roof fire prevention tips from my previous blog post titled Reducing Roof Vulnerability During Wildfires.

So stay safe and listen to evacuation orders as it could save your life.

Photo credit: Associated Press

Preparing Your Family For A Wildfire Evacuation

As thousands evacuate due to a wildfire near Guthrie, Oklahoma, this brings to light how important it is to have an emergency response plan; because you never know when your area will be threatened by a wildfire. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection provides valuable wildfire emergency tips, but perhaps the most important is how to prepare your family for an evacuation.

First, listen to your Fire and Police Departments. If you have been ordered to evacuate, follow their instructions. Next, it is important to organize your family. Know where all your family members are (whether it is the neighbor’s or the movies) and make sure you can communicate with each of them in case you have to arrange a time and place to meet.

Pack your car with enough personal items for a few days. Be sure to include items of sentimental value that you know you can never replace. This will be a great comfort to you when you leave. Back your car in the driveway and roll up the windows to keep embers and smoke from coming in.

Gather all your pets into one room with leashes, food, bowls and toys. If you need to leave quickly, you do not want to take up valuable time trying to look for them.

Take a video of your home both inside and out. The inside video will help inventory your possessions and the outside video will give you an account of your home and landscaping. When it is time to leave, turn off your air conditioner, gas and any LP tanks but leave power and water on as well as your interior and exterior lights.

Also, remember to leave your contact information with a friend or relative so you can let them know you are safe. Hopefully you will never have to evacuate for a wildfire but it is always best to have your family prepared.