Recent Storm Damage Posts
Some Warning Signs of Immediate Flood Damage Remediation Needed in Brownsville
Beginning the Recovery Process Following Brownsville Flooding
In an area positioned between multiple fronts capable of providing strong storm systems that can destroy Brownsville properties, residents and business owners in the area must remain vigilant to the possibility of disasters like flooding happening with little warning. Those in lower-lying areas of the region are more at risk for these circumstances, but any property is susceptible under the right conditions. Once the storm has passed, many homeowners return to their properties to begin the tedious task of assessing the damage.
Before you can address any of the flood damage in Brownsville homes following a disaster, you need to follow specific steps. The more that you can familiarize yourself with the process of acquiring professional restoration assistance and working with your insurance company to come to a solution, the less time gets wasted in securing restoration and recovery services for your property. Our SERVPRO team helps customers as much as we help homes, so you can depend on our experience in disaster relief to help you navigate the hurdles in your path.
As a premier restoration team in the region, we encourage homeowners to contact us directly when they first return to their damaged properties after a flood loss event. Though you might still wish to contact your insurance provider to see what coverage options you have regarding this situation, our team can already be at work mitigating your losses and protecting what structural elements we can. The longer that construction materials remain exposed to standing water and excessive moisture, the more they decay and deteriorate.
Our initial assessment of the property can help to provide your insurance company with the necessary documentation and photographic evidence needed to approve a damage claim you submit. Even when your provider can only cover the costs of specific recovery approaches, they still require this overall assessment and estimation of specific services to approve the filed claim.
Only re-enter your property after a flood if you are sure it is safe to do so. Many new threats could exist that came in with the rising waters, and structural elements could have become weakened to the point of collapse. No matter how we can help, our SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island team is here for you. Give us a call anytime at (956) 747-3020
The Difference Between Storm VS Flood
Property owners may have a hard time differentiating storm damage from flood damage. Commercial properties can sustain water damage from either source. There are a few major differences to keep in mind that may help you manage these risks.
The most general distinction is that storm water comes from above, whereas flood water usually overspills natural bodies or courses of water and covers at least two acres of ordinarily dry land. Storm damage to a commercial property may originate from a variety of causes such as
• High winds
• Heavy rain
Most business insurance plans provide protection from damage caused by storms. Property owners will need additional coverage to offset the expenses of flood damage. If your property is located on a flood plain, you should make sure you carry the policies necessary to protect your investment.
Flooding occurs when water overflows a body of water or watercourse such as
• Storm-water channels
For water to be considered a flood, it must not only cover two acres but affect at least two properties. If a commercial property is located in a high-risk zone and the owner has a mortgage from an insured and federally-regulated lender, he or she is required to maintain flood insurance. Damage resulting from either flooding or storms can cause severe problems and should be planned for, prevented, and handled as soon as possible. Regardless of the source of moisture, the risk of mold and other secondary damage within a building can be just as severe.
Restoring Damage From Storms and Floods
Restoration specialists can help property owners determine the precise causes of damage and the best solutions. If a commercial property in Brownsville, Tx experiences flood damage or sustains damage during a storm, contact SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island as soon as possible.
Tips for Dealing with Storm Damage
When a storm has struck your home, SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre island is faster to your disaster
The most common mistake when dealing with storm damage is calling your insurance company first. While you do need to be sure you call them within the window of time they allow for you to file a claim after a storm, there are some things you should do before you call them.
First of all, start with a high-quality, reputablestorm damage restoration company. They will fully inspect your property to find exactly what damage has occurred. They will often find storm damage that your adjuster would not have noticed, or perhaps even hoped you didn’t. By giving the adjuster a full property storm damage inspection report up front, you avoid missing out on repairs that should have been covered.
It is always best to find your own storm damage restoration company rather than go with one that the insurance company has “approved” because you want one that is working for you rather than the insurance company. You have paid your premiums so you deserve the best repair rather than the cheapest, which is what the insurance company would prefer.
You should also read over your policy before calling the insurance company so you know exactly what they should cover. All too often, homeowners hold back on claims out of fear they will be singled out for a rate increase after a storm damage claim, but this is not the case.
If you have suffered storm damage in your home or business, give SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island a call. We represent your best interest, yet can work directly with the insurance company for claims up to $500,000 to make the process easier for you. We can provide you with an inspection and then complete the restoration for you. Our project management team has over 50 years of combined experience in construction, so we are confident we can restore your home to your complete satisfaction.
Storm Damage Is Not Always Immediately Visible!
Storm season is approaching, If your home has been affected by a storm, Remember SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island is here to help.
Bad weather can be unpredictable, and when it is, homes are at risk of suffering. The worry is that it’s often difficult to tell just how serious the damage is.
Homeowners often ignore what is seemingly minor damage, not knowing that it is actually causing major issues within the building’s structure. Remember, serious storm damage is not always immediately visible. It may seem like there’s nothing to worry about, but actually, mold growth and ceiling stains are very often signs of a more sinister problem.
At SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island, we suggest that you first walk around your home when the storm has passed to check for any visible signs of debris and damage, But please don’t climb on your roof, as this could be potentially dangerous. Leave this task to the professionals.
If your home has survived a severe storm, we recommend that you schedule an appointment for us to come and take a look ASAP. If you wait for obvious signs of damage, you may be putting your entire home at risk. Moreover, if your roof or other structural elements have suffered storm damage, your insurance should cover the cost of repair and restoration.
We are a fully licensed general contractor specializing in insurance restoration. We also offer 24/7 emergency home restoration services on mold, water, fire, smoke and storm damage, as well as vandalism or any other disaster that may strike your home.
Getting Speedy Storm Damage Repair Can Make All the Difference
When hurricane Harvey struck, our storm team made sure to help all of those affected by the storm.
Mother Nature can sometimes be brutal on our homes and buildings. You’ve likely seen footage of the damage that was caused by major storms such as hurricanes or tornadoes, but the reality is that any storm with strong winds and heavy rain can do a number on your house. For example, a tree branch could get knocked against your roof or windows, or perhaps some power lines might come down on your home. Once you’ve survived the storm, trying to figure out how to take care of the storm damage repair can be a major pain. Where do you even start with something like that?
The good news is that your home insurance usually covers these kinds of repairs. Your best bet is to contact our office immediately to schedule services. SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island specializes in storm damage repair and can come and take a look at the damage. One of the extra things that we do for our clients is to work directly with insurance companies and make sure that we get the repairs taken care of on your home without providing any unnecessary financial burden on you. This is why there is no reason to fret over a large repair from storm damage that has been dealt to your home.
In the past, we have helped many home owners all across North Carolina get their storm damage quickly taken care of. So no matter what happens to your home, you can rest easy knowing that our team of SERVPRO professionals has you covered. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about our emergency storm damage repair services.
Call Us After Wind or Storm Damage We Are Crisis Recovery Professionals!
SERVPRO has the proper training and equipment to handle any storm damage.
High winds and storms can cause serious damage to buildings and homes – sending trees through windows, ripping off siding and shingles, and causing severe structural damage. If you have been the victim of storm damage, contact us – we are the crisis recovery experts.
Homeowners and businesses have trusted us for over 50 years. Our team has vast experience in insurance restoration, insurance adjusting and construction. In the wake of a storm, homeowners and businesses can count on us 24/7. Our storm damage restoration professionals offer turnkey services to get properties back to normal.
When we work for you, you have a trusted partner in every step of the process, from re-installations to repairs and temporary board-ups. Moreover, our 24-hour disaster response service means that no matter when a hurricane, tornado or storm strikes, we’ve got you covered. Our services include:
• Inspection to determine the extent of storm damage
• Negotiations with your insurance company to ensure you get a fair settlement
• Cleanup of debris
• Temporary security measures that include board-ups for doors, windows, roofs, etc.
• Roof damage repair
The Dangers Of Standing Flood Water From A Storm
Contact Us today for any storm/water damage.
Storms cause much destruction, and devastation every year. Some of the biggest dangers caused by storms occur right after the storm has already passed. Standing flood water that was caused by storms can cause serious health risks. Here are some of the most severe problems floods can bring.
Standing flood water is filled with health risks. They are teeming with diseases. Bacterial infections, and diseases become a greater possibility because flood water can infect anything it touches. This includes anything from clothing to toys that children play with. Its important not to drink or eat anything that has been contaminated by standing flood water, and always wash your hands as often as possible, especially before meals. Open wounds pose a far more greater risk of becoming infected. If possible, keep opened wounds out of the water or cover with waterproof bandages.
Disease isn't the only invisible hazard that exist within standing water. Murky water can conceal dangerous insects or even threatening animals beneath the surface. Much of this depends on the location of the storm. Standing water may also contain physical damage caused by the storm such as broken glass or sharp metal which might be impossible to see before it causes injury. On top of that, storms frequently cause damage to power lines. This can lead to a risk of electrocution in standing water. Flood water itself poses the possibility of causing drowning, whether people are in their cars or trying to swim across.
If you need storm damage repair of water damage clean-up, Contact SERVPRO Of East Brownsville & South Padre Island today!
SERVPRO of East Brownsville & SPI Storm Damage Restoration Process
Damage caused by a storm.
Violent weather such as storm damage can wreak havoc on buildings and houses as well. The wind that comes with any type of storm can be a hazard to the structures of building or homes, by loosening the shingles or tiles on the roof. This can cause moisture such as rain and snow to infiltrate into the protective surface of the roof, which will result in the wood swelling and later on disintegration and becoming moldy. This outcome will lead to a sagging ceiling and further problems. Elements such as wind, rain, hail, and lightning can result in turning people’s lives upside down. this is why you should always count on the hero's at SERVPRO Of East Brownsville & South Padre Island. We specialize in storm restoration and clean-ups as well.
Today we would like to educate you on some of the activities we do when it comes to storm restoration.
- Whether it is a business or residence, SERVPRO will come to your property and our trained experts will do a thorough examination of the interior and exterior of your building. This will help them discover the level of the damage. In many cases, the restoration company will discuss the renovation plans with you and your insurance adjuster.
- When everything is agreed upon, the work begins. Depending on what type of damage is present, this will determine the type of equipment the professional will use. In the case of flooding, they will use specialized pumps and vacuums to remove water from the affected areas.
- Generators will be brought in to operate their dehumidifiers and air movers so mold and mildew do not have a change to make matters worse. Using customized cleaners, the specialist will then disinfect hard surfaces and shampoo salvageable carpets as well as apply deodorant to combat any odors.
- SERVPRO will be able to rescue your building from greater structural issues, by inspecting the roof and replacing the dilapidated areas. After sealing and renovating the roof, they will then address the ceiling and restore to its former condition.
SERVPRO Of East Brownsville & South Padre Island has seen everything from BAD to WORSE, but that doesn't stop us from getting the job done right. Leave it to the professionals!
Estimating Damages after the Storm
It seems like yesterday, but it was 1979. I was a college student and given the opportunity to work as an adjuster (I had to ask my buddy exactly what “an adjuster” was) estimating claims for an adjusting company handling flood claims for the National Flood Insurance Program.
Back in those days, only the federal government wrote flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program or NFIP. However, in 1983 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the administrators of the NFIP, created the “WYO” or Write-Your-Own program allowing private insurers to sell flood insurance and adjust (estimate) the flood claims arising out of the policies they sold under their brand. The government was (and still is for the most part) the “bank” and pays all claims sold by the WYO insurers. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), remains the governing body. The NFIP administers the day-to-day operations of the flood program and provides adjusters (estimators) with the do’s and don’ts as to what should and should not be paid for in the event of a flood claim. Complicating the landscape even more, FEMA and the NFIP allow the WYO insurance companies to estimate their flood claims as they deem appropriate for their policyholder and their brand.
Back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s (the “Wild, Wild West” of the flood program as I like to refer to them) adjusters wrote estimates by hand and there wasn’t as much control and oversight over their content as there is today. Technology has caught up with the NFIP and the flood program’s estimates of today have little in common with those of years past.
We could spend an entire day-long class in the art of writing flood estimates for the NFIP and WYO companies. The information provided here will provide some of the basics needed to prepare flood estimates in a proper and acceptable format for flood adjusters and the federal auditors who review NFIP claims.
Keep in mind, the NFIP requires all flood adjusters to write their own estimates. Adjusters may refer to contractor’s estimates for scope and specific pricing information, however, adjusters are required by law to prepare their own estimates.
Basic Flood Estimate Formatting
All NFIP flood estimates must be written on a room-by-room basis. Each room or area must be individually named with a complete list of all measurements for that room or area. Drawings or sketches including measurements are great but the NFIP requires these measurements be shown right on the estimate.
Rooms and areas should be ‘scoped’ in some logical order. A telltale sign of many poorly written estimates is when the estimator, for whatever reason, starts at one end of a building and then skips from room to room in random order.
We suggest when preparing flood damage estimates, scope rooms/areas either in a clockwise or counterclockwise manner, so it is easier for someone to follow along and virtually or actually “walk through” of the house while reading the estimate.
Each room or area will have its only set of estimate line items. Estimate line items should be fully detailed. Each line item should contain the following information:
- Quantity of materials to be used
- Unit of measure used for the material
- The scope or operation to be performed with that material
- A detailed description of the material to be used in the repair
- The unit cost for that operation and material as described
- The “extension” or total cost for the line item as described
The adjuster has the added responsibility to consider any depreciation which may apply to the line item materials, but that is not a concern of the contractor or repair specialist.
Line Items should appear in each room or area in the same order throughout the estimate. This makes the estimate easier to read for all parties and reduces the risk that a line item may be left out.
Since we are preparing a flood estimate (ground water), it is always recommended the estimator start with flooring-related items and scope their way up the walls and finally to the ceiling (if affected by the flood waters). Estimates, where the preparer may have started with the wall repairs, then to a few floor repairs and then back to a wall item, will be looked upon by the adjuster as unprofessional. The adjuster may request the items be re-ordered to be consistent with the adjuster’s estimate. It is good practice to keep estimate line item order consistent both in their order of appearance in a room/area as well as where the item is physically located in that room or area.
Today’s leading computer estimating systems detail estimate line items for the estimator automatically. However, estimators should always review how the estimate’s line items are displayed to ensure consistency and professional appearance. If there are line items which contain multiple operations within them (i.e. assembly type line items), additional notes should be added to further explain the repair to the adjuster.
After all rooms, areas and their corresponding line items are entered, each estimate should end with a Summary or Totals page. This page should display any contractor overhead and profit fees, sales tax and any other cost information which would apply to the whole estimate. The last line of the summary/totals page should be the total cost of the restoration work. The adjuster will take care of any flood insurance policy limitations deductibles in his or her estimate.
The National Flood Insurance Program is a government agency. The money disbursed in paying policyholders’ claims is considered U.S. Treasury dollars and taken very seriously by the feds. Although the NFIP wants all policyholders treated fairly and to have a positive “customer experience,” the government auditors who examine these estimates, sometimes months or years after an event, take a sharp pencil when performing their reviews. Adjusters submitting their estimates take exceptional care as to how the final estimate is presented in the closing documents of the flood claim. It is for this reason adjusters may ask the contractor to be more detailed in their scope of loss than they might be in a typical homeowner’s water claim estimate.
The follow are some things to consider when preparing flood estimates which may differ from preparing other types of water-related appraisals. Adjusters are the persons ultimately responsible for adhering to NFIP policy coverages, limitations and exclusions. Some estimators reading this article may feel uncomfortable following these recommendations. We offer them only as items to consider when preparing estimates for the flood adjuster.
All Flood Waters Should Be Considered Toxic – The NFIP considers all groundwater floods as toxic (i.e. Black/Level III) water. Any mold found in a flooded building should be removed. The flood adjuster will not consider any remediation measures short of complete removal. All porous materials such as plywood, drywall or carpeting should also be replaced. Remember, flood waters are ground waters and contain all types of bacteria and fecal matter brought into the building from surrounding areas. Estimates containing attempts to clean and restore these items will probably not be acceptable to the NFIP adjuster without detailed explanations as to why these items are salvageable. If the estimate includes any remediation or repair type items, detail the reasoning behind their inclusion in the estimate.
Consider Only Direct Physical Damages – NFIP adjuster guidelines dictate only direct physical damages caused by flood waters may be included in flood estimates. Adjusters are instructed by the NFIP only to include items “touched” by flood waters. This fact affects what adjusters can include in their estimates. NFIP will not allow its adjusters to match the upper cabinets, which were not damaged by the water, with the lower cabinets which were in flood water.
Another example would be ceilings. NFIP will not consider ceiling repairs, even cleaning or painting, unless the water physically affected the ceiling. Although, there are some situations (usually in major flooding events when repairs cannot begin for weeks or months) where “non-touched” items may be included in a flood estimate. In general, when preparing flood estimates carefully consider if the line item being considered was directly affected by the flood water. Bottom line with this consideration – if you are not sure, check with the adjuster.
Consider Removing All Openings from Area Calculations – This includes all doors, windows, wall openings of any kind. It also includes items such as cabinets, vanities and other wall and floor type items which could be subtracted from an area’s total wall and/or floor quantities. The NFIP does allow for additional cutting, taping and masking around these types of items. These additional operations should be detailed in the estimate for them to be considered by the adjuster.
Contents Manipulation Considerations – Even though the NFIP does allow adjusters to include manipulation of specific contents items (i.e. pianos, pool tables, safes, etc.) in a building estimate, the policyholder must have contents coverage for the estimator/adjuster to include the cost of contents manipulation. Also, NFIP will not accept hourly charges or lump sum amounts for general contents manipulation – the manipulation must be specific. Remember to check with the homeowner to see if they have contents coverage before adding any type of contents manipulation in the estimate. If coverage is not verified with the homeowner, be aware that any contents manipulation included in the estimate may not be considered by the adjuster or included in their estimate.
Flooding is one of the most devastating forms of natural disasters a community can experience. The NFIP and WYO programs are in place today to lessen the financial and emotions blows to those communities. The ultimate objective of the NFIP is to return victims of flood and their communities back to normal as quickly as possible.
To the insurance savvy restoration contractor, the National Flood Insurance Program may, at times, seem more like a “program” rather than “insurance”. If the professional restoration contractor, like SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island, has some basic knowledge on how the NFIP functions and what it requires to write solid flood estimates, that contractor can be a great asset to the flood adjuster.
The sooner the restoration and insurance adjusting professionals can agree on the scope of the damages (considering the guidelines of the NFIP or WYO insurance company) the sooner homeowners receive payment for their damages and the affected communities can be restored to normalcy “Like it never even happened.”
Flood Waters and Oriental Rugs
In the 20th century, floods were the No. 1 natural disaster in the United States as counted by lives lost and the extremity of damage to property. More recently, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Oklahoma all experienced powerful storms that drenched the areas in a matter of days, sometimes hours. Once heavy rains reach the ground, creeks, lakes, and rivers swell affecting surrounding communities.
Once floodwaters subside, the need to provide prompt drying begins; the longer it takes the greater the potential for damage to textiles. Floodwater frequently contains fecal matter that overflows from sewage systems often containing millions of microbes; these tiny organisms present a long-term destructive danger to health.
Contamination of textiles with polluted water poses additional challenges to cleaners, homeowners, and building occupants. Restoration of textiles has been promoted through specialized cleaning or laundering, but these approaches lack sensitive methods to detect hidden microorganisms and a complete understanding of the effect of cleaning solutions or cleaning methods.
The widespread incidence of flooding on textiles makes it inevitable that microbial contamination of textiles will occur in buildings with water damage. Authors of cleaning standards (ANSI/IICRC S500, 2006) have speculated that specialized laundering could return these materials to a hygienically sanitary state.
Fields, farmlands, and sewage systems release contaminants into floodwaters, transporting them inside local homes, schools and buildings. In the case of river flooding, when dwellings become contaminated, a heavy load of organic matter can penetrate into the built environment causing extensive contamination of porous materials, especially textiles such as rugs due to their location on the floor.
Organic matter and water-saturated materials can be used as a substrate for the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. Large quantities of water inside homes evaporates, causing high humidity that contributes to microbial growth on organic materials
Indoor contamination is a complex function of water sources, exposure time, and lack of immediate or ineffective cleaning and moisture control. Inside buildings, microorganisms adhere to surfaces, including heirloom Oriental rugs and other high-value textiles and porous materials. In particular, Oriental rugs, because they are highly prized, often remain in the home despite floodwater contamination; capturing and allowing microorganisms to proliferate, their complex yarn structure acts like a sink.
Which organisms grow on materials in flooded homes depends on a series of factors: the physical and chemical makeup of the materials, as varying materials inherently provide micro-specific food sources and, most importantly, the degree of saturation, as this further determines the type of organisms likely to abound.
Microbial growth is largely dependent on the water content, as well as adsorptive or absorptive forces throughout the capillary spaces and on the surface of water-damaged materials. Moreover, every organism has its own particular growth requirements, such as temperature and moisture levels, minimum and maximum water activity (aw) values for various categories of organisms, and optimum levels where organisms thrive.
Where high levels of moisture are available, hydrophilic types are usually observed. If the material is not dried quickly and becomes wetter over time, we may find a succession of inhabiting organisms. Therefore, recovery must be quick when water threatens valuable textiles.
Many people have Oriental rugs that provoke fond memories and hold sentimental value; they may be one-of-a-kind works of art. These strong attachments, especially following floods, often create a desire to salvage as many of these items as possible. Nonetheless, practical concerns regarding how sanitary these items are following flooding raise the question of safety.
My concern is that the role of exposure to contaminated textiles is poorly understood, as is the role of mitigation and its emerging importance. Where we stand today in our knowledge of how microbial ecologies shift when flooding occurs is far ahead of where our industry was just 10 years ago. Yet in spite of the number and magnitude of losses, studies about cleaning efficacy are lacking. Our lack of research as to whether we have returned our belongings to a sanitary state or simply visually clean state is a concern. We know floodwaters ultimately cause materials to break down, but how effective are our cleaning processes?
As consumers become more knowledgeable about public health issues surrounding floodwaters, they rely on properly trained and certified cleaners. This is in part why our industry has evolved. Our industry involves restorers such as SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island, who are expected to be collectively qualified by education, training and experience to appropriately execute a key set of “core skills” on water restoration projects.
While the training towards developing core skills is admirable, I believe additional research is needed. Moreover, organizations must continue to look critically at the accuracy or completeness of the information, which they provide. ANSI/IICRC standards and reference guides are constructed in good faith and are reliable yet will need revision as developments occur and research provides new technology and procedures.
If you were to find yourself in a Flood situation, call on the experts at SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island, to help you assess the damages and start the process of getting your home to a safe, livable condition.
Handling CAT Loss Contents Restoration--5 Key Elements
CAT losses are a prime example of how the restoration industry relieves a lot of stress, anxiety and pain for so many. In a mass flooding situation, a restoration contractor, such as SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island is the equivalent to the emergency room doctor. Everyone is looking to you for guidance, answers and some sense of calm amongst the chaos. And just like a doctor, the contractor needs the right equipment, systems, manpower, support team and prior training to be able to do their job.
- Support Team
Right off the top, you need to have a base of operations to handle the logistics of organizing and coordinating all the contents jobs. People at the base need to be a really good support team for those out in the field. Location is not critical – it could be on site, at the office, or even in a different state.
SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island, usually sets up a command center at a local hotel room. The center handles things like billing, specialty subcontractor coordination, hotel, food, transportation needs, manpower issues, supply inventory and more. This base supports my teams out in the field and helps handle the backstage stuff so work doesn’t get bogged down on the job site. This also helps our teams be more organized and on top of it on site for the homeowner, making us look more professional.
There are many moving parts to CAT losses. Training for these events needs to happen long before you are on the ground handling jobs. This includes being able to do estimates quickly, using software in the field (we will cover this in a moment), gathering important details from each job, having the right paperwork, knowing how to use all the equipment, and knowing what adjusters need in situations like this. Bottom line about adjusters: they need to be able to understand the big picture of the loss and get all their questions answered quickly. This is key to getting paid quickly and in full.
Let’s get specific. How do you know when to dry it, log it, or just throw it away during a category 3 water loss? Obviously, some items have no value and just need to be thrown away – like most old magazines. Then there are items you can clean and dry. These contents should be treated as contaminated in a category 3 loss and cleaned accordingly using an antimicrobial solution. Once the item is cleaned you can now dry, inventory and pack it.
This is a topic I get asked about a lot. Finding good, dependable help can be tricky in a CAT loss scenario. Restoration work needs to happen quickly, and without enough hands, you can only handle so much. Utilizing temporary labor sources is usually the best option here, but the key is to have your own trained supervision.
For instance, when I was back in Houston working Hurricane Harvey, I had two supervisors with me and we each ran a team of five to 10 people who came from the local temporary labor companies. By doing this, my manpower grew from three employees to 20-30 employees overnight. Each of my supervisors was trained and certified in all aspects of CAT loss work. They watched over all aspects of the job, monitoring quality control and proper protocols. It’s very important you have proper protocols in place when using labor in this way so you do not wind up on the wrong side of a lawsuit.
You can also call on others you may know in the industry to see if they can send any help to work with you.
- Billing Software
Using proper billing practices in a CAT loss situation can literally make or break your business. I have seen restoration contractors become millionaires and watched a few go bankrupt doing CAT losses.
You need to have a good billing software program set up on a laptop, computer or other device and be able to complete your scope of repairs for payment on the spot from your homeowner or to send to your adjuster as soon as work is complete on a job. Staying on top of your billing is very important.
SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island uses Xactimate as it is the most widely used insurance billing software in the industry at this time. And most adjusters are familiar with it. Understanding how to fully utilize your billing software is crucial to your bottom line. After all, you don’t want to be leaving thousands of dollars on the table and not even know it. You need to understand how to properly fill out the notes and details on each job so that your scopes will get approved and paid quickly without hassles. This is something to invest in when looking for training to gear up for these types of losses.
I think it is also important to mention verifying coverages. A flood is very different than a “traditional” water loss. You may be dealing with FEMA instead of an insurance company when it comes to getting paid and they have some different rules in regards to billing and work done.
A good contents inventory system or software is also important for billing and job tracking.
There is a lot of equipment needed to handle CAT losses. For contents work in major flooding situations, the equipment you need isn’t a lot different than the equipment you use on a CAT loss fire situation. You will need dehumidifiers, air movers, HEPA machines, odor removal equipment and HEPA vacuums.
You can rent a lot of this equipment instead of sinking a lot of cash into purchasing equipment that may only be in use for a few weeks before being shelved. Renting can a good way to leverage yourself into large losses without going into debt.
No matter how you get the equipment, you need to track it. You should be able to see at any given time what equipment is on what job and how long it has been there.
If you own the equipment, it should be marked and numbered with a complete inventory being done before it goes out into the field.
Most rental companies will have their equipment numbered, making it easy for you to track as well. Be sure you have a complete inventory done of rental equipment before it goes out. This is not only important so you don’t wind up losing expensive pieces of equipment, but also so you can justify your charges to your homeowner or adjuster if need be.
As you can see, jumping into a CAT loss situation unprepared could be pretty disastrous not only for the restoration contractor, but for everyone involved. However, with some preparation and good planning, you could be that contents restoration contractor that becomes the hero to those in need.
Flood Insurance in Texas--Cost and How it Works
Texas doesn't require homeowners to purchase flood insurance, but if your property is in a high-risk flood zone, you may need to buy coverage as a condition of closing on your mortgage. Flood insurance is also a good consideration in Texas, as flood damage isn't covered by homeowners or renters insurance policies. Flood insurance will help ensure your home and valuables are protected against damage from flash floods, hurricanes and other threats. While the average cost of flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is nearly $600 per year in Texas, you may be able to find lower rates by comparing quotes from private flood insurance companies.
Do You Need Flood Insurance in Texas?
While the state of Texas doesn't require homeowners to have flood insurance, you may need to purchase coverage as a term of your mortgage loan. This is usually the case if your home is located in a high-risk zone on flood maps, as it’s considered to have a higher risk of flooding.
Even if you're not required to purchase flood insurance, you may want to buy coverage as Texas consistently has some of the highest fatality rates and property damage costs due to flooding. And nearly one in four flood losses occurs in flood plains that aren't considered high-risk, so even when coverage isn't required, it doesn't necessarily mean your property is safe.
A number of weather events that may occur in Texas can cause flooding, such as flash floods, heavy rains, tropical storms and hurricanes. Flood damage isn't covered by homeowners or renters insurance policies, so you would likely have to pay the associated costs out of pocket. Even if a federal emergency is declared, disaster loans average less than $10,000, and significant damage to your flooring or personal property can easily exceed this amount.
Texas Flood Insurance Coverage
Flood insurance from the NFIP has maximum coverage limits of $250,000 for your house's structure and $100,000 for its contents, although you can usually purchase a larger policy through a private flood insurance company. If you're a renter in Texas, then your landlord would be responsible for the structure, and your policy would be limited to $100,000 of personal property coverage through the NFIP.
Even if your flood insurance claim is less than your coverage limits, the policy still has limitations in terms of what will be paid for. An NFIP policy in Texas will generally cover the following.
- Standard home systems. This can include systems such as your electrical system, furnace, water heater, plumbing system and air conditioner.
- Carpeting and installed features. This includes damaged sections of built-in cabinets, bookcases or paneling.
- Appliances and personal property. Appliances, such as your refrigerator and washing machine, are generally covered unless they're kept in your basement. The same applies to your personal items, including clothing, electronics and furniture.
- Foundation and support structures. Staircases are covered so long as they're built into your house.
- Detached garage. A maximum of 10% of your policy's dwelling coverage can be applied to a detached garage.
A federal flood insurance policy has a large number of exclusions though, so you may not receive the full payment expected if you're not familiar with them. Here are some common reasons an NFIP flood insurance policy would not cover damage.
- The damage can be attributed to earth movement, such as a sinkhole or landslide, even if the earth movement could be traced to flooding.
- Damage occurred to the basement or property contained within it.
- In some cases, flooding damage from sewer backup wouldn't be covered.
- The flood damage was done to your vehicle. You would need comprehensive auto insurance in order to cover this situation.
- If you lost income or temporarily had to relocate due to flood damage, these costs would not be covered.
- Certain detached property features wouldn't be covered by flood insurance. These include property such as plants, decks, patios, fences and walkways.
Cost of Flood Insurance in Texas
The average cost of flood insurance in Texas is $595 per year for policies purchased through the NFIP, but rates can vary significantly. Depending on several factors—where your house is located, how it's built, the property's elevation and how often you occupy the home—flood insurance rates can range from $200 to more than $2,000. In the largest cities in Texas, premium prices range from $468 to $1,117 per year.
Two of the most influential factors in determining flood insurance costs are your home's location on a flood map and elevation. However, premiums also account for usage factors. For example, each NFIP flood insurance policy has an annual surcharge, typically $25. However, the surcharge increases to $250 if your house is used as a rental property or you occupy it less than 50% of the year.
NFIP flood insurance can be purchased from most insurers and agents in Texas, and they will all offer the same premiums for coverage. To make sure you're getting the best rates, we recommend comparing quotes from private flood insurance companies as well. Private flood insurance policies typically come with similar or lower rates than you'll get from the NFIP, and you will usually have more options to customize your policy. If you're purchasing flood insurance as part of your mortgage requirement, check with your lender first, as not all mortgage lenders will accept private flood insurance.
In the event that you go through a storm event and your structure is flooded, call on the experts at SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island. We will work diligently to get your life back to order and help you resume your life as you knew it before the event.