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What You Need To Know About Insurance Claims And Raised Rates

9/21/2021 (Permalink)

Insurance claim form. Learn more about Insurance Claims to protect your Emporia, VA home.

People purchase home insurance to protect themselves against risks like water damage, but is it wise to use your insurance or file a claim after every disaster? While it seems like you should be able to, using your insurance too often or at all can lead to rate hikes. Therefore, it is necessary to know when filing an insurance claim is worth the risk of increased premiums.

What to Know About Insurance Claims

The Cost of Using Your Insurance

Using your insurance policy will typically not cover the entire remediation or restoration expense for your property. In most cases, people have a deductible, the amount of money they must pay before they can tap into their policy. Therefore, while you might want assistance covering the costs of damages and repairs, consider the full expense, including your deductible.

If you have a $1,000 deductible, it is not worth filing a claim for anything less than that. Filing a claim for damage you will end up paying for only increases the risks of rate hikes. Instead of filing for every issue, use your insurance only when you need to, when the damage is extensive and far exceeds your deductible.

Why Insurance Rates Go Up

Your insurance premiums or rates have to do with risks. If you file claims willy-nilly, the insurance company begins to look at you as increased liability, meaning it will probably increase your premiums.

Essentially, an insurance company is a for-profit entity, and it wants to make money off every client. Therefore, the company assesses the likelihood of clients making claims. Clients who are less likely to make an insurance claim receive better rates, while those who routinely use their policies will have higher premiums. In other words, the more you use your coverage, the more of a risk you are to the insurer.

Risks of Filing a Claim

Even clients who rarely use their insurance policies can be at risk of higher rates when they make a claim, depending on the claim and its preventability. Typically, insurance companies will not approve claims when the client is blatantly responsible. However, sometimes a client is responsible for the damage because of a lack of knowledge. An insurer might still cover damages, but it might reassess the liability the client presents.

Additionally, if you file multiple claims within a short period, your insurer might reassess your rates. The insurer is always evaluating clients and claims. Even if you rarely file a claim, the insurance company might reassess your profile, resulting in higher premiums.

When Should You File a Claim

You can file a claim when dealing with a significant disaster, such as a home flood from a burst pipe. When a claim is beyond your deductible, it is wise to file. However, you will also want to consider how many claims you have filed in the past because frequency can matter.

By all means, if you suffer a disaster, file an insurance claim and seek remediation and restoration through a licensed specialist, like SERVPRO, in Emporia, VA. However, just know that filing a claim can lead to higher premiums, depending on the circumstances.

Can Business Owners Be Sued for Mold Growth?

9/20/2021 (Permalink)

Mold growth in a kitchen. Mold grows in moisture environments in your company in Emporia, VA.

Because mold can damage buildings and personal property, mold insurance claims and lawsuits are sometimes filed against building owners, contractors, and other types of businesses because of mold damage. This guide provides an overview of what you need to know about mold growth lawsuits.

What Is Mold?

Molds are a type of naturally occurring fungi found in most indoor and outdoor environments. The thousands of different species reproduce by creating spores that travel to different locations through the air. Mold needs oxygen and moisture to grow and is often found in damp environments:

  • Wet foundations
  • Areas with leaking pipes
  • Surfaces with condensation
  • Buildings with poor ventilation
  • Spaces with poor air circulation

When Can Businesses Be Liable for Damages?

Businesses are sometimes liable for mold-related damages suffered by customers, tenants, employees, or others. Some types of businesses are more likely to experience a mold claim than others. Examples include property managers, landlords, architects, contractors, and structural engineers.

When Can Landlords or Property Managers Be Sued for Mold Damages?

Most states require residential landlords to maintain the rental property in habitable condition. If a landlord or property manager fails to take proper mold remediation steps, such as contacting a mold remediation company in Emporia, VA, to remove mold growth, and a tenant's property is damaged because of a mold infestation, the landlord may be liable for damages. The landlord may also be liable for expenses incurred by a tenant who must move out of a rental that is not safe to live in because of mold. Commercial landlords are generally not held to as high a standard but may be subject to mold insurance claims if their negligence causes the building to become unfit for its intended use.

When Can Contractors Be Sued for Mold Damages?

Because water damage can lead to mold growth, contractors may be sued if defects in their work cause water leaks or other problems that contribute to mold infestations. Claims against contractors usually result from allegations that the contractor used the wrong types of materials, installed materials incorrectly, or caused damage during the construction process that led to the mold problem.

When Can Architects and Structural Engineers Be Sued for Mold Damages?

Structural engineers and architects may be liable for damages when the design of a building or its systems results in excessive moisture that contributes to mold growth. Claims may arise if the mold growth causes damage to the claimant's property.

How Can Business Owners Avoid Mold Lawsuits?

Taking steps to prevent mold from growing is the most important strategy for avoiding lawsuits. Building owners should regularly check buildings for sources of moisture, such as condensation, leaks, poor drainage, and faulty window seals. Ventilation and HVAC systems should also be regularly inspected. When problems are found, take immediate action to dry out wet properties and fix the source of the excess moisture.

Mold insurance claims and lawsuits can result when business owners fail to take appropriate steps to prevent mold infestations. Some commercial insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for mold damage, so it may be a good idea to speak with your insurance professional to ensure you are protected.

How To Prevent Pipes From Freezing

9/20/2021 (Permalink)

Frozen pipe. Prevent frozen pipes to avoid further damage in the pipes of your Surry, VA home.

Winter can take a toll on your home in Surry, VA. One of the most common problems homeowners face when a big freeze hits the area is frozen pipes. Not only does this issue keep water from getting where it needs to go, but it can also cause a great deal of damage to the space around the fissure. Here are several ways you can keep your pipes from freezing and tips on how to handle the mess if they do.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

Winterize Your Home

Before the first freeze, your maintenance plan should include getting your house ready for cold extremes. There are several tasks you must check off your list to prepare for winter:

  • Tune-up furnace
  • Replace old insulation
  • Check for air leaks in windows and doors
  • Make sure the attic is properly ventilated

Winterization makes good economic and ecological sense by saving energy, but that's not the only benefit. By taking measures to keep cold air out of your home and warm air inside, you are more likely to avoid a pipe freeze.

Keep Pipes Warm

Even if your plumbing is located within an exterior wall, you can still avoid frozen pipes by keeping them warm. In addition to the insulation in the wall, you can insulate the pipes themselves, giving them extra protection. Heat cables can also be wrapped around pipes to keep them from freezing. For extra warmth, consider keeping cabinets open and a small drip going overnight.

Keep Thermostat Consistent

When you see your utility bill start to skyrocket during the winter, it can be tempting to turn the heater off during the day while everyone is at work or school. This can end up costing you more trouble and money in the long run, though. Pipes can freeze even when the sun's out if the temperature is cold enough. Keep your thermostat set to at least 55 degrees throughout the season to protect them.

Safeguard Outdoor Faucets

Some of the most vulnerable pipes in your home are the ones attached to outdoor faucets. Since you probably don't use your garden hoses often when it's cold outside, detach them from their water sources and store them for the winter. Then drain the line that leads to the pipe so that no water can get trapped and bust the pipe. Cover the faucet to protect it from the elements.

Clean Up Quickly

Despite your best preparation, pipes can still freeze, especially if your area experiences blackouts that cause you to lose power to your home for many hours. If this happens, you may still be able to avoid extensive damage by turning off the water main and warming exposed pipes with a hairdryer. If this doesn't help, the pipe burst may be inside the wall. Call a plumber as soon as possible to fix the pipe, and contact water damage mitigation specialists to remove ruined materials and restore the structure surrounding the pipe.

There are many things you can do to prevent frozen pipes in your home. Take the necessary precautions and keep trusted professionals on speed dial to protect your home during winter.

Tips for Keeping Pets Safe During a Fire

8/26/2021 (Permalink)

A dog. Train your pets so they would know how to act if a fire emergency happens in your South Boston, VA, home.

If you have children, you have probably taught them what to do if a fire breaks out in your home in South Boston, VA. What about your family pets? Here are some fire emergency tips as well as extra precautions you can take to keep your beloved animals safe.

Evacuation Plans

You want your pets to be able to get out of your burning house and make it to safety. There are several considerations to add to the family evacuation plan if you have pets in your home:

Practice - Pets should be part of your family fire drills. It teaches them to come to you when they hear the sound of the smoke alarm and follow your lead out of the house rather than finding a place inside to hide.

Survival kits - Just as each family member should have an emergency kit packed and ready to go in case of a fire, so should your pet. Include food, treats, and copies of important documents such as shot records.

Carriers - If your pets are small enough to fit in a carrier, it's a good idea to have one handy enough to grab quickly during fire evacuation. It's much easier to carry a scared animal out in a carrier than in your arms.

Home Alone Strategies

Pet safety can be trickier when you are not at home with them, but it's still possible. Animals are just as curious about their environments as young children, so put yourself in that mindset before you leave them to freely roam the house in your absence. Go through each room in your house and imagine what you would want to change if you knew a toddler was going to be alone in the room for a few minutes.

To avoid a fire emergency in the kitchen in your absence, fire damage remediation experts recommend that you remove the knobs on the stove or cover them so that they cannot turn easily even with persistent nudging. Keep cords hidden or out of reach of animals that tend to learn by chewing. Consider keeping young animals or pets in training crated or confined to a small area, preferably near the front door where firefighters can easily find them, while you are gone.

Fire Safety Measures

Part of pet preparation for the house is getting rid of things that enhance the opportunity for fire to break out. Even when you are at home, excited or curious pets can make extra fire precautions necessary. You may love the look of candles but unfortunately, so does your cat. Consider switching to flameless candles or other types of subtle lighting that don't have an open flame. The main thing to remember is that you should never leave anything that could cause a fire if bumped or tipped over unattended, especially if you have pets.

It's important to follow fire safety tips that take every member of the family into account. Including pets, in your fire, emergency plan, and taking extra precautions to guard against safety hazards helps protect every family member, even the furry ones.

Expectations of Severe Storm Damage

8/26/2021 (Permalink)

Severe storm. To prevent some severe storm damage in your Emporia, VA, home, you must know the different risks your house can suffer.

Severe weather presents significant risks to manmade structures, including houses. As a homeowner, little can be done to prevent extreme weather and the tear-out it can lead to, but you can prepare for the potential damage to your house’s structure. If you reach out to a storm restoration company in Emporia, VA, the representatives can help you understand the four types of storm damage you might encounter. They can also help you develop a plan in case you experience such damage in the future.

1. Roof Damage

The most vulnerable surface of your home’s exterior is the roof. While it is solid, it is susceptible to wind damage. Depending on the style of roof and roofing materials, some houses will be more vulnerable than others.

Wind can lead to significant damage during a storm, but debris, hail, lightning, and more can result in damage to the roof as well. While there is little you can do to help prevent damage other than staying current with maintenance schedules and repairs, remediation companies can help you mitigate loss after a storm.

2. Water Damage

Severe weather can lead to storm surges, floods, and other types of water damage. The key to limiting the damage caused by rain and flooding is to remove the excess water as soon as possible. You will also need to tear out any damaged surfaces, like drywall, to limit the possibility of mold growth.

A storm restoration service is capable of handling all mitigation efforts. By dealing with water problems quickly, you can protect your insurance claim, giving yourself the best opportunity for claim approval.

3. Wind Damage

Severe weather often brings with it high winds. High winds alone are capable of breaking glass, damaging roofs, and causing structural loss. However, winds can also pick up debris, creating projectiles that can further bombard a structure.

You can purchase storm shutters to protect against high winds. Shutters are an excellent idea if you live in an area prone to hurricanes or other wind storms. You can also opt for a less permanent installation, such as a plywood sheet.

The primary goal of wind protection is to cover those areas that are most vulnerable to damage. For most properties, the vulnerable spaces are windows and glass doors.

4. Fire Damage

Many people underestimate the potential of a fire in the middle of a storm, but it is possible. Lightning accounts for many residential fires every year.

The best protection against a lightning fire is a lightning rod. Contrary to common assumptions, lightning rods do not attract lightning. Instead, they create a high point on your roof, making it a more likely target than your roof. If lightning strikes, its charge is carried through the rod and connecting cable down to the ground where it is safely dispersed.

Even if you have a lightning rod on your house, it is wise to install a few smoke detectors in the attic, garage, and upper floors of the house. Not all lightning fires start right after a strike; some take hours to present.

While storm damage often leads to tearing out to prevent secondary damage, there are some things you can do to reduce your risks of loss. Talking to professional mitigation companies or disaster response leaders can help.

7 Reason Why You Should Change Polybutylene Pipes

8/16/2021 (Permalink)

Changing polybutylene pipes. Consider changing polybutylene pipes to avoid water damage.

Older buildings often carry higher insurance premiums because these buildings are more likely to experience problems caused by aging or outdated systems. One such example is polybutylene pipes. If your building has this type of plumbing, there are several reasons you should consider changing it.

1. Chlorine Can Break Them Down

Public water supplies contain chlorine and other antibacterial agents that can break down these pipes causing water damage. The pipes become brittle and flake as they age and are particularly vulnerable at the fittings due to micro-fractures. These micro-fractures can lead to a leaking or burst pipe.

2. Pipes Can Not Be Repaired or Exchanged

Because of the numerous problems created by their use, manufacturers stopped making polybutylene pipes more than a decade ago. This means that when problems develop with your pipes you can not simply repair or replace a section of the pipes. Because you don't want to have to schedule a plumber in South Boston, VA, to put new plumbing in when your existing pipes start to break down, it is better to replace them before problems develop.

3. Damaged Pipes Can Degrade Water Quality

Flaking pipes may leach chemicals into the water lowering its quality. This could create a liability issue for your business. For this reason, most commercial building owners choose to replace these pipes before they become a problem.

4. May Be a Code Violation

The use of this type of plumbing is a code violation in many parts of the United States. You may need to replace your plumbing to get your building up to code.

5. May Lower Resale Value

Buyers may be reluctant to purchase a building that has this type of plumbing because of the cost of replacing the pipes and the difficulty they have in finding insurance. This may make your building more difficult to sell or drive the sales price down.

6. Higher Insurance Prices

Because of the high number of water restoration claims due to pipe failure, many insurance companies will not insure a building that has this type of plumbing. If you don't replace the pipes, you may have to seek insurance in a high-risk market, which typically costs more.

7. Ruptured Pipes Can Cause Substantial Damage

Whether your pipes have a slow leak or burst suddenly, they can cause substantial damage to your building. Slow leaks may rot flooring and stain walls. They can also lead to higher water bills and mold growth. A sudden burst can dump a large amount of water into your building before you can get the water source shut off. This can cause substantial damage to walls, floors, inventory, carpets, equipment, and anything else it comes in contact with. Additionally, the sudden loss of water service may force you to shut down your business until the water service is restored.

Because of the high rate of failure, it can be a wise decision to replace polybutylene pipes before they begin causing problems. This allows you to schedule your downtime, rather than having to pay high prices for emergency plumbing services.

Benefits of Pretesting

7/30/2021 (Permalink)

Image of an insurance claim form and a hand filling in the form. Pretesting helps reduce the expense of claims.

When your commercial clients in Emporia, VA, need to fill out an insurance claim, it is in everyone's best interest to keep the total cost low. One of the reasons SERVPRO is a preferred vendor for many providers is its commitment to start each cleanup job with a thorough assessment. Here are several ways that pretesting helps reduce the expense of claims.

3 Advantages of Pretesting 

1. Identifying Source

The first thing that certified mitigation experts do when they arrive on site is look for the source of the problem. For example, if they are there to repair water damage, they inspect the building for common causes:

  • Pipe break
  • Faucet leak
  • Toilet overflow
  • Unresolved storm damage

Identifying the source of the water loss helps to stop damage in its tracks. The cleanup team can restrict the flow of water to the area until the problem is resolved, thus minimizing claims expense.

2. Reveal Extent of Problem

Pretesting also shows how much damage your client's building has sustained. Just as an insurance agent or adjuster completes a walkthrough to verify the claim, SERVPRO technicians inspect the whole building to identify exactly which procedures are needed to mitigate the damage. Both you and your client can view this information as well as any updates to the process or the overall estimate through the Claims Information Center.

3. Prevent Secondary Damage

One of the most important results of a pretest is the prevention of mold growth or other secondary damage to the building. Knowing the full scope of the problem from the beginning reduces the likelihood that water damage will be left to fester and cause more issues in the future. The rigorous standards SERVPRO sets for its technicians ensure a job well done.

The first step to solving any problem is defining it properly. Pretesting allows cleanup experts to get a full picture of how much damage your client's building has so that they can formulate an appropriate mitigation process.

Can Carpets Be Saved After Water Damage?

7/30/2021 (Permalink)

Image of a carpet being cleaned. Carpet cleaning.

Carpeting can be one of the most difficult materials to salvage when you have water damage in your home. Rugs that have been damaged by clean water, such as water from a pipe break, may be salvageable, but other types of water damage may result in the need for replacement.

3 Factors to Consider When Saving a Carpet After Water Damage

1. The Source of the Water Is Important

Wet carpeting can be problematic because it is difficult to dry and can promote mold growth in your home if not removed or dried promptly. For this reason, a professional restoration company in Emporia, VA, may be necessary for homeowners who want to try to save their carpet. The main determinant of whether your rug can be salvaged is what the source of the water damage was. Restoring water damage is sometimes possible when the source of the water is clean:

  • Pipe break
  • Overflow from a clean sink or toilet
  • Leak from a water supply line

However, sources that may contain contaminants, such as raw sewage, an overflow from a toilet with urine or feces, or dirty water from a washing machine may cause damage that contains bacteria and other harmful agents that can not be removed. Carpets damaged by contaminated water usually need to be replaced.

2. How Long the Carpets Have Been Wet Also Matters

Carpets damaged by clean water that are dried within 24 to 48 hours can often be salvaged. However, if they stay wet longer than that, they usually need to be replaced.

3. How Difficult the Carpets Are To Clean and Disinfect Is a Factor

Area rugs without foam backing are the most likely to be salvageable, as long as they were damaged by clean water and dried promptly. However, wall-to-wall carpeting is difficult to completely dry and the padding almost always needs to be replaced.

If you have a small rug that was damaged by a pipe break, you will probably be able to salvage it. However, most other types of carpeting will need to be replaced.

3 Essential Tips for First Responders During a Flood

7/22/2021 (Permalink)

Flooded neighborhood of Emporia, VA. Flood can affect entire cities.

As an Emporia, VA, first responder, you're always ready and willing to help your community when a disaster occurs; your work could be your passion. Most importantly, though, you need to know all the ways to keep yourself safe while working in potentially dangerous situations, such as a flood. Otherwise, it's difficult, if not impossible, to help others during this difficult time. Stay safe during a flood response by considering these suggestions.

1. Standing Water Can Be More Powerful Than You May Realize

Many people don't realize how deceptive even a seemingly small amount of standing water can appear. Only a few inches of water can sweep you off your feet and even carry a vehicle away. These waters may not even appear to be rushing. Therefore, it's essential to approach floodwaters with caution until you're sure you can navigate them safely.

2. Vaccinations Will Help Keep You Safer

It's vital for a first responder to get the proper immunizations before starting on the job. You can be exposed to contaminants in floodwaters that can put you at risk for multiple diseases and other issues such as hepatitis B and tetanus.

3. Floodwaters Can Contain Toxic Substances

It's impossible to know for sure all of the pathogens, such as bacteria and toxic chemicals, floating in floodwaters. If possible, it can be very beneficial to initially have storm damage remediation professionals mitigate some of the standing water. This means you should always wear protective gear, such as disposable gloves and a face mask, before coming into contact with the water. Taking these additional steps will make the situation safer for everyone involved.

Being proactive as a first responder can ensure you remain as safe as possible while navigating disaster areas. Planning ahead will give you the peace of mind you need to assist the people of your community in making it through the unthinkable.

Places Where Mold Can Hide in Your Home

6/28/2021 (Permalink)

Mold growth on a hidden place of a home. Mold growth in Emporia, VA.

Mold is one thing that you never want to see. Unfortunately, it is not necessarily the mold that you can see that is the problem. Mold growth can extend far into places where light does not shine. It is important to know where mold might be so you can eliminate it before it becomes a problem.

Places Where Mold Might Grow in Your Home

Look For Moisture

One of the quickest ways to find hidden mold is to look for moisture. Places that have:

  • Poor ventilation
  • High humidity
  • Leaking pipes
  • Flood damage

Each of these is a place where mold is likely to grow. This is not to say that it will not grow elsewhere.

Check Drip Pans

Refrigerator and air conditioner drip pans are other sources of mold. This mold can overgrow the pan, and then you have mold on wood. Once this happens, you might want to consider a professional mold remediation company in Emporia, VA. Both the refrigerator and the air conditioner are two places you don't normally see.

Check Under and Around Windows

Windows are notorious for allowing water in. Mold growth is extremely common in the tracks and around the sills themselves. It is a classic place to look for leaks as well. Where there are leaks, there is often mold.

Behind Drywall

Another place where mold is often lurking is behind drywall. When you have a leak inside one of your walls, it can result in moldy drywall. Although you cannot immediately see it, you might be able to smell it. Moldy growths can result in a musty or earthy smell.

Mold Under Carpets

Another hidden place where mold can grow is underneath your carpet or on the carpet pad. This usually happens when a carpet is wet and not properly dried. When you have mold underneath a carpet, you have to clean the carpet, carpet pad, and wood underneath both.

Mold growth can happen anywhere there is a damp or humid area. Remember, just because you can't see it doesn't mean that it isn't there.