Posts Tagged ‘fire’

Keeping A Claim Diary

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

If you have a small claim, you may not ever really need a claim diary. Good note taking and an organized file can help keep facts straight, document phone calls, hold important correspondence and policy information, and whatever repairs need to be made. However, if you have a large loss, you will want to keep a notebook or diary to help you through the claims process. If you hire a professional such as a Public Adjuster or Contractor, this can also help them in assisting YOU.

Facts surrounding the loss are obvious notes to include in your diary. You will want to have all your information handy and in one spot. Policy numbers, phone numbers for your agent and claims adjuster, fax numbers for submitting documents, email addresses, your declaration page..these are all important to include. A binder is a great option and will help keep you organized.

As you move through the claims process, you may need estimates for repair from more than one contractor. Keep these together along with contact information in your binder so that they are easy to find.

If contents or personal property needs to be addressed, you will be asked for an inventory list. You will want to maintain a section strictly for this purpose and you may want to get yourself a small pocket note pad to keep on you when you are out. Often you will remember items you had while you are out shopping or attending to daily life and it is always best to do it “on the spot” rather than waiting until later. Enlist the help of family and friends who may have photos from holidays and time spent at your home. This can also jog your memory when attempting to create your list. Credit card companies may have statements that can also provide assistance.

If you have been displaced and are staying at a hotel or a friend’s or family member’s home, you need to keep track of your expenses. Food, clothing purchases, toiletries purchased..keep all receipts in your binder and document them!

I have had many clients who have forgotten to get a receipt here and there, or have not documented items properly and it creates a lot more work and costs time to try to catch up later. Don’t overlook the small stuff!

It is easy to become overwhelmed and large losses are stressful, but good record keeping will assist you and, if you hire one, your Public Adjuster to get you to settlement a little more easily.

If you have any questions concerning a claim, you can always reach out to me by phone at 570-730-8607, or by email at michelle@michellemurphypublicadjuster.com. I service Northeastern Pennsylvania which includes Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Poconos, the Slate Belt, Lehigh Valley and areas further south toward Philadelphia.

Find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Michelle-Murphy-Public-Adjuster-186668698043821/

On Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/michellelmurphy

On Twitter https://twitter.com/ClaimHelp4You

What is a Public Adjuster?

Friday, July 24th, 2015

My profession doesn’t get all that good press and TV time like Insurance Companies. You may hear a commercial on the radio and think, “what is a Public Adjuster?” But usually when a client has a claim that has gone bad for some reason, a friend or family member will suggest that you hire one and that will leave you scratching your head about who we are and what we do.  Therefore, I’d like to start by reviewing some essential information consumers need to know when thinking of hiring a Public Adjuster.

In the State of Pennsylvania, Public Adjusters MUST be licensed and bonded. We are licensed through the Department of Banking and Insurance and we are required to complete 24 hours (credits) worth of continuing education every two years. Prior to Act 21 of 2012, Pennsylvania had two different licenses available, one for salespeople, or solicitors, and one for actual adjusters. The test we were required to pass for each was different and so was the knowledge needed for each. Act 21 of 2012 changed licensing so that all solicitor licenses were grandfathered into Adjuster licenses.

Where do Public Adjusters get their training? Some Public Adjusters actually come from the Insurance side, meaning they were once employed by an Insurance carrier. Some have been Independent Adjusters, which means they also worked for the carrier but indirectly through another company. Other adjusters are recruited through Public Adjusting companies by someone they know or through ads looking for people with experience in certain fields such as general construction or sales. The level of training is unique to each Public Adjusting company. Some adjusters have gone to school and others have earned their “stripes” by training in the field with a seasoned adjuster, and some have done both.

What do Public Adjusters do? We are advocates for our clients and we help you, the insured, when you have a claim. We ensure you are treated fairly and paid properly within your policy limits. It is our job to protect you and be there when you need someone to help handle your claim whether it is new or one in process. We understand the insurance process and how to negotiate with your adjuster to ensure all claim issues are addressed properly and thoroughly.

If you have a new claim or one in process and think you need help, or maybe you feel you have been treated unfairly, call me today at 570-730-8607. I’m here to answer any questions you may have about your claim or the process of hiring a Public Adjuster. You can also visit me on FaceBook  for more information on Public Adjusting and to see some of the claims I have handled.

 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Michelle-Murphy-Public-Adjuster/186668698043821

 

July 4th Fires

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Fires are more prevalent during winter months, but around July 4th we see another spike of fire related claims. Summer fires are typically caused by fireworks, lightning strikes, open flame and dry vegetation, but also may occur due to suspicious activity. More fires are reported July 4th than any other day during the year.

Fires from suspicious activity, fireworks, lightning and dry vegetation are pretty self explanatory. Open flame includes fires started by torches, matches, lighters, candles, campfires, bonfires, warning flares, rubbish fires, open trash burners, outdoor fireplaces, hot embers, ashes, and rekindles. This term does not apply to those caused by suspicious activity, cooking, appliances, smoking or children playing with fire.

There are some basic safety tips you can follow to help prevent fires in your home, but for this article I will specifically address indoor and outdoor cooking. First, I’ve said it many times but it bears repeating: You must have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and you must know how to use it!  When you are cooking do not wear loose clothing. You also want to keep kitchen towels, sponges, paper towels and potholders away from your stove.  Other items that could catch fire are food packaging, wooden utensils and curtains. Be sure your stove is plugged directly into the outlet. Never use an extension cord for your appliances. Oils are highly flammable. If you are cooking and your pan catches fire put a lid on it immediately. It is a good idea to keep a lid nearby with an oven mitt just in case. Once the lid is on, turn off the heat and do not uncover until the pan has cooled completely. Likewise if your oven catches fire, turn off the heat and do not open. Let the oven cool down completely before you open it. The most important tip here is to know when to get out of the house. It is always better to be safe and call for help if a fire doesn’t seem manageable. Things can be replaced, people can’t.

If cooking outdoors, take proper precautions to have a water source handy such as a hose in case the fire escapes containment.  You want to keep anything flammable away from hot coals or the grill burners and keep your grill far enough away from your home to prevent melting of siding and/or fire. Also, keep your grill away from fences, sheds, deck railings and out from under eaves. The grill should be on a flat service and always inspected to ensure it is in good working condition. Keep children and pets away from the outdoor cooking area. Do not wear loose clothing while cooking on the grill and never leave the grill unattended. When you have finished cooking, dispose of spent coals properly, but make sure they are cool first. For gas grills, be sure to close the gas tank.

Suffering property loss from a fire can be overwhelming and stressful to say the least. Whether it is a localized fire or a total loss, always remember that there is someone here to help you get through the claims process. My role as a Public Adjuster is to take the burden off you and process the claim on your behalf. We meet with your insurance adjuster, document the scope of the damage, inventory your personal belongings and fight for a settlement that is fair and within the limits of your policy. We’re with you every step of the way to help you so that you can get back to what is important..living your life. If you have any questions about a claim in process or a new claim, reach out to me direct at 570-730-8607 or by email at michelle@michellemurphypublicadjuster.com.

Winter Fires from Heating Sources. What Homeowners Can Do to Stay Safe.

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Fires from heating sources is the second leading cause of winter fires in residential properties. An estimated 50,100 heating fires occur in homes in the United States each year. 87% of residential fires from heating are from a confined source such as chimneys, flues, or fuel burners. Why are these numbers so high? With the high cost of heating from oil, gas and electricity, homeowners are turning to alternative heating methods. Use of wood burning stoves, space heaters and fireplaces has increased. The elderly and low income homeowners are especially at risk when temperatures fall. I worked a fatal fire a few years ago in which the elderly gentleman had covered all windows with plastic and he was using his gas stove for heat to warm his hands. He was wearing a loose shirt and his sleeve caught fire.

What causes fires from these heating sources? Combustibles, using green wood, burning trash, creosote buildup in fireplaces, using the incorrect fuel and damage to the heater can all cause fires. As I mentioned in the case of the elderly gentleman warming his hands, wearing loose clothing around open flames from a stove or a fireplace can easily catch fire. Be sure rugs aren’t too close to heating sources such as fireplaces, baseboard heating elements and space heaters. Don’t store clothing or other items on your heater. Be sure heating sources are free of debris and are cleaned. If you have a wood-burning fireplace have a chimney sweep clean it annually. For oil heating systems, have your system on a service contract and have it serviced/checked at least annually. If you notice a funny smell or a smoky or dirty look to the inside of your home, be sure to contact your heating service right away so the system can be checked for malfunctions. Inspect your space heaters for cracks, damaged legs, doors, hinges etc. Make sure permanent heating sources are installed properly.

What else can I do to prevent fire or at the least increase the chance of my surviving if one occurs? Homeowners should have a few fire extinguishers and know how to use them. One extinguisher should always be in the kitchen. Smoke detectors should be installed and maintained. Batteries should be changed every 6 moths to one year. On a monthly basis test the smoke detector. Have a fire escape ladder and an escape plan. Make sure everyone in your family knows what to do in case of fire and practice your escape plan often.

Fires are devastating and scary. The claims process can be overwhelming especially if a loved one is lost in a fire. My role as a Public Adjuster is to help you. I handle your claim for you from start to finish. I ensure you receive a fair settlement from your insurance company. A Public Adjuster can take the burden and stress from you so that you can get back to what is most important..living your life and spending quality time with your family. When disaster strikes, know that you have someone on YOUR side to protect you.

I am Michelle Murphy, licensed and bonded Public Adjuster in the State of Pennsylvania. I have been working in this industry for four years in the Pocono, Slate Belt and Lehigh Valley regions. I am pleased to be a part of one of the largest companies in Pennsylvania, Citizens Public Adjusters, and look forward to helping people who have been the victims of fires. Feel free to call me at 570-730-8607 if you have any questions concerning fire damage to your home or business.  Come visit me and “Like” me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Michelle-Murphy-Public-Adjuster/186668698043821

 

Happy New Year! Out with the old and in with the new!

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Happy New Year! It is a brand new year and that means cleaning out the old and bringing in, or celebrating, the new! January is one of those months that find us all inside looking for things to do while the weather outside is not so pleasant. Holiday decorations are taken down and stored, and we try to reclaim our space by clearing out those things that no longer serve us. While packing your decorations, make sure to look them over for signs of wear.

Did you know light strands older than three years cause most fires? If you do have older strands be sure to check them over for nicks and frays. Do not ever splice your light strands. If you check with your trash hauler you may be able to take those old lights and stick them in your recycle bin! So while protecting yourself from a potential fire hazard and a homeowner’s insurance claim, you are also doing something good for the environment!

While you’re at it, be sure your smoke detectors are functioning and have fresh batteries. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Also be sure you know your basic fire safety. By doing these few small things you are helping your family to be safe. Here’s hoping we all have a safe and (claim-free) Happy New Year! From the Poconos to the Slate Belt, I’m here to help you!  Feel free to contact me at 570-730-8607.  Click here to find me on Facebook as well http://www.facebook.com/pages/Michelle-Murphy-Public-Adjuster/186668698043821.