Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Baldwin Company’s Wes Baldwin invited to be sole presenter at exclusive financial conference in Florida this week

ST. PETERSBURG – 22-October-2015 – Wes Baldwin, president of renowned Carolinas public-adjusting firm, The Baldwin Company, Inc. (, has been asked to be the sole presenter this week at a by-invitation-only financial conference in St Petersburg.

 Sponsored by Raymond James Tax Credit Funds, Inc. (, the exclusive event has gathered together 15 of the nation’s most significant non-bank syndicators of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) development. Baldwin was asked to address the issues that can arise from property-insurance claims when LIHTC projects – whether completed or still under construction – suffer losses from such insured perils as fire or weather-related Acts of God.

According to the meeting’s organizer, Raymond James’ Steve Johnson, Baldwin was invited due to his more than 40 years of extensive experience as a Public Adjuster (PA) in settling claims for apartment and condo complexes across the country. Public Adjusters are professional claims adjusters who are retained by insured property owners – both commercial and residential – to help analyze, document, put together, adjust, and as the owners’ representative, reach a realistically sufficient settlement with their insurance companies.  Baldwin has extensive experience in claims arising from not only fire losses but also such storm-related perils as hurricanes, tornadoes, and hail, to name but a few.

Baldwin, who founded his company in 1976 in Columbia, SC, prior to moving to Charlotte in 1981, has led the way for Public Insurance Adjusters in the Carolinas: When he started his firm in the 1970s, the public-adjusting profession was not well known in the southeastern part of the country. But, as the first public-adjusting firm based in the Carolinas, Baldwin set a precedent for thorough and ethical assistance with property claims throughout the area, and has since been followed by several more PA’s in the intervening 40 years. Baldwin has enjoyed the esteem of his fellow public adjusters as indicated by having been elected to serve on the board and as president of the PA industry’s professional association, the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (, as well as having been named that group’s Man of the Year in 2008.

Firms represented at the LIHTC conference in St. Petersburg this week included syndicators from such heavyweights as Boston Financial, National Equity Fund, Richman Asset Management, WNC, City Real Estate Advisors, Boston Capital, Enterprise Community Investment, RBC, and Redstone Equity Partners.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Message from Ana and El Nino: GET READY

By Wes Baldwin

Surprised to learn a tropical storm formed off the U.S. coast, and in early May?

Our Atlantic tropical systems typically form off the west coast of Africa, don’t they? Yes, but that’s during Hurricane Season, which doesn’t officially start until June 1. Tropical Storm Ana – like an impatient deb who can’t wait till the actual season to make her debut – made her entrance 3 weeks ahead of schedule, followed by an even rarer May landfall. So what does this portend?

Also, close on Ana’s heels we hear rumblings about El Nino and its impact on the storm season in both the Atlantic and Pacific basins. What does this mean for us, especially this summer and fall?

According to the National Hurricane Center, since 1851, we’ve only had 20 named storms in May.  The last year in which we had any Atlantic storms in May strong enough to be named was 2012, and when the full hurricane season actually began that year, it was a doozie: 19 named storms, including 10 hurricanes – 2 of which occurred in June (also rare) and the last of which, Sandy, descended on N.J. and N.Y. just before Halloween.

So what does El Nino have to do with any of this? In the years we are said to be influenced by El Nino – a weather trend determined by warmer than usual Pacific water temperatures measured off the west coast of equatorial South America – we usually hear less dramatic predictions for the Atlantic and Gulf hurricane season. It’s El Nino’s sister, La Nina, who can show up the following summer and really pack a wallop on the East and Gulf Coasts.

Even so, the UK Met Office (short for Meteorology Office, the UK’s public weather service), says an El Nino pattern triggers “a huge release of heat from the Pacific Ocean, which can disrupt weather patterns around the world.” Also in England, Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) stresses that their Atlantic forecast for 2015 includes more uncertainty than usual, due to the unpredictability of El Nino. TSR, the UK Met, and other experts say that, although 2015 may bring as many as 8 to 13 named storms in the Atlantic basin, probably only 1 or 2 will be ‘major’ hurricanes.

In looking at such predictions, though, CBS Meteorologist Mike Augustniak notes we need to realize what hurricane experts refer to as ‘major’ hurricanes are only Category 3 and above storms (minimum sustained winds of 111 mph).  Within those parameters, he says, the U.S. might be lulled into complacency when we note that we haven’t had a Cat 3 storm make landfall here for almost 10 years (Wilma, in October 2005 was the last). Instead, we should remember that hurricanes less than Cat 3 can still be devastating:  Sandy (2012), Irene (2011), and Ike (2008) were all Category 2 when they made landfall, yet they caused a combined total of $100 billion in damage.

AccuWeather’s Dan Kottlowski points out that “just because this season’s numbers [may be] low, it doesn’t mean that people should let their guard down.” As TSR warns, it only takes one land-falling hurricane to make it an active season for the residents and businesses involved.

So what to do?
  • First of all, realize that not only coastal communities are involved in hurricane damage. Just ask residents of Charlotte NC, a city some 200 miles inland, whose homes and businesses were ripped apart when Hurricane Hugo toppled giant oak trees onto them in 1989. Everyone living anywhere in a state bordering the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico should consider themselves potentially susceptible to hurricane damage.
  • Secondly, take time to document what you have now, before a hurricane threatens. Grab your smart phone, and either videotape or photograph all parts of your home or business, both inside and out, including attics and other storage areas (don’t forget to open up drawers and closets, too). Make oral identifying comments as you go along. Store this photographic record on a disc or in a cloud away from your home or business. And then, if a hurricane or other storm strikes, this will be the easiest and most convenient way to prove to your insurance company what you had prior to the storm. Do this today. Bear in mind that your paper files where you may have carefully organized your purchase receipts through the years may not survive a storm.

  • Next, revisit and become familiar with your insurance policy. If you don’t understand something or are not sure whether certain situations are covered, now is the time to find out. Contact your agent with your questions, and go over your concerns. Ask specifically about your coverage for wind-storm damage and hurricane claims. (see  right).
  • Put together an emergency evacuation kit. Many websites provide sample lists of what to include (click here to view the American Red Cross checklist). But – beyond the obvious flashlights, batteries, and candles – the bare essentials are these:

    • Water
    • Non-perishable foods (and don’t forget the can-opener)
    • Copies of your property insurance policies, with your agent’s contact information included. (Your agent is the one you call to report damage and file a claim, not the insurance company listed on your policy.)
    • Prescription meds and/or detailed lists of your medicines (can be printed out from your pharmacy’s website)
    • Extra set of keys to everything – house, car, storage unit, office, etc.
    • Wrench to turn off access to natural gas at your home or business
    • Print-out of emergency phone numbers, including your own family members (Remember: you may not be able to access your contacts on your phone)
    • Extra battery for at least one cell phone, and possibly also for one portable computer or notepad
    • Leashes/crates/food for your pets
    • Cash – in case ATMs are without power
    • And, if you can store it safely, 1 to 5 gallons of gasoline

  • Plan ahead for filing an insurance claim, should the need arise. This may not sound very urgent at this point, but be aware that a hurricane claim will likely be an extensive and exhausting process, and will be doubly hard if you’ve been displaced by storm damage.  Very few laymen have any experience documenting, let alone adjusting, a claim. But you can bet that your insurance company has plenty. Consider using the services of your own professional adjuster who can help you with these tasks. A Public Adjuster can help level the playing field and take some of this burden off you, particularly in times of disaster or trauma. Take a few minutes now to visit the website of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters ( to find a comprehensive list of licensed, reputable PA’s in your state. It would be helpful if you could interview a few of them now, and talk to their former clients. But at the very least, print out their info and store it with your policies in your emergency evacuation kit.

No one wants or expects to become a hurricane victim. But should it happen, being prepared ahead of time can help lessen the trauma.

Wes Baldwin is the president and founder of The Baldwin Company, Inc., in Charlotte. He has been a Public Adjuster for over 40 years, and has served as president of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, as well as having served on the Board and in other capacities since 1980. He was named NAPIA’s Person of the Year in 2008.  Based in NC and SC, hurricane claims are one of his specialties. Learn more about Wes Baldwin at


Monday, March 23, 2015

Frozen busted water pipes? Don’t file a ‘flood’ claim

February’s relentless cold temperatures are wreaking havoc on the water pipes and fire-protection sprinklers of commercial enterprises and private homes alike. When the pipes freeze and expand, they tend to burst at the seams, causing costly — and miserable — water damage to the structure and contents of homes and businesses.

For the owners of these properties, a natural response is to pick up the phone and file an insurance claim for damages. But public insurance adjuster Wes Baldwin of Charlotte warns that there is a right way and a wrong way to report a claim: “When people are standing in several inches of water, due to frozen broken water pipes, it’s somewhat natural to tell their agent that their house or business is flooded.”

But don’t do it, Baldwin warns.

The reason? Baldwin, president of The Baldwin Company, Inc., Property Loss Consultants, for 39 years, explains: “The word ‘flood’ has a very specific meaning in the insurance industry, and using it in the wrong situation can lead to a denial of a property claim for what may be perfectly legitimate — and covered — water damage. The minute you mention ‘flood,’” says Baldwin, “the insurance company’s blinders go on: the standard property insurance policy does not cover damage brought about by floods.”

What business and homeowners need to report instead, says Baldwin, is water damage. But when caught in the throes of a disaster which threatens one’s home or livelihood, very few policyholders are able to think clearly enough to remember that distinction.

That is why Baldwin suggests that property owners now faced with frozen water pipes consider using the services of a Public Insurance Adjuster to help them navigate the intricacies of both their coverage and the claims process itself. A public adjuster is a specific kind of licensed adjuster who, hired by and working exclusively for the policyholder, is experienced and knowledgeable enough to make sure their clients get everything that their policy has promised them.

One of The Baldwin Company’s clients, Rick Conley, manager for Regis Property Management in Dallas, TX, puts it this way: “When our water pipes froze and burst at our Dunes Plaza Shopping Center in Michigan City, IN, it brought a particular kind of misery. It’s hard to describe how cold it is traipsing around in 4 inches of water in one dark, unheated building after another, unless you’ve experienced it yourself.”

“Baldwin came in and handled not only that grueling physical part of documenting our claim but also the more cerebral parts of researching our policies and communicating with the insurance companies’ people throughout the process,” says Rick. “He even had ways of measuring the water damage within the walls of our structures that convinced our insurance company they needed to pay to get all that fixed.”

Property owners can find an extensive listing of licensed public adjusters at the website of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters,

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