Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Public Insurance Adjuster offers help for hurricane and earthquake victims

Wes Baldwin of The Baldwin Company, Inc, Charlotte NC, gives us a simple tip for helping donate millions to the American Red Cross every time you order a book, some dogfood, or a new headset for your PlayStation


        What’s the last thing you ordered from Amazon – an e-book for your Kindle? maybe a DVD? These days, it could just as easily have been a box of cereal or a tube of toothpaste. People are going to Amazon.com for just about anything under the sun – especially if they have Amazon Prime’s free-shipping privileges.

So what does this have to do with helping the victims of recent hurricanes and earthquakes?

Few people realize that you can financially support the American Red Cross every time you order anything from Amazon. All it takes is simply adding a ‘smile’ to your Amazon bookmark, like this: Rather than bookmarking amazon.com, change your bookmark instead to smile.amazon.com.

Why? Once you start using the AmazonSmile website, Amazon automatically contributes the equivalent of .5% of each of your purchases to The American Red Cross.

At first glance, .5% of the $35 power cable you just ordered may not seem like much. But you have to look at the big picture: Through AmazonSmile, Amazon has already contributed $1.7 million to the Red Cross, as of last month (August 2017).

What’s more, you can help increase that total by spreading the word. Just post the following on your facebook page and other social media. Before you know it, you and your friends will be helping the families devastated by these unprecedented natural disasters every time you shop: 

Change your Amazon bookmark to smile.amazon.com to automatically support The American Red Cross

And – with Amazon’s gross income currently being estimated at $929 per second (that’s $55,000 per hour, or $1.3 million per day) – just look at the potential.

Policyholder advocate Wes Baldwin founded the first ever Public Adjusting Firm completely based in the Carolinas, 41 years ago. Headquartered in Charlotte NC, The Baldwin Company is retained by both business owners and homeowners across the nation to assist them in putting together and presenting their insured property claims to their insurance carriers, making sure that the property owners receive everything their insurance policies entitle them to. Baldwin is past president of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, with whom he’s been instrumental in helping state legislatures enact specific licensing laws for Public Insurance Adjusters. He was selected as NAPIA’s national Man of the Year in 2008. TheBaldwinCo.com 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hurricane Insurance Claims: Got a hole in your roof? DON’T report a ‘flood’ claim

By Wes Baldwin, The Baldwin Company, Property Loss Consultants

If Irma has punched a hole in the roof of your home or business, you may be tempted to call your insurance agent and tell them it has rained so much that your house is now flooded.

roof leak, water damage, flood claim, insurance claim, Hurricane, storm damage, property loss recoveryBUT DON’T DO IT!

Even if you are standing in your living room in water above your ankles - you need to know that, in the world of property-insurance claims, this is technically not a flood.

The term you want to use when reporting this type of insurance loss to your insurance company is “WATER DAMAGE.”

Believe it or not, using the word “flood” when you report property damage may improperly prejudice your insurance company’s adjuster against your claim.

The easiest way to distinguish floods from water damage is this:


  • If you have water coming into your house or business from the ground up, from below - this is flood damage.
  • Whereas, if you have rainfall entering your house from above, this generally causes water damage, and more often than not, it IS covered by your standard non-flood Property Insurance.


Need help sorting this out? You should be aware that your insurance company will assign one of its full-time professional adjusters to handle your claim. But, even though technically assigned to you, this type of adjuster’s allegiance is to the insurance company, not to you.

To level the playing field, you do have the option of hiring your own adjuster, a Public Adjuster, who represents only your interests – not those of the insurance company – to help level the playing field. For further information on public adjusters, go to the National Association of Public Adjusters (NAPIA), where there are state-by-state listings of PA’s for you to choose from.

But regardless of whether you choose to add a professional to your team or handle your hurricane insurance claim on your own, don’t be calling your agent and reporting that you have suffered a flood.


Policyholder advocate Wes Baldwin founded the first ever Public Adjusting Firm completely based in the Carolinas, 41 years ago. Headquartered in Charlotte NC, The Baldwin Company is retained by both business owners and homeowners across the nation to assist them in putting together and presenting their insured property claims to their insurance carriers, making sure that the property owners receive everything their insurance policies entitle them to. Baldwin is past president of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, with whom he’s been instrumental in helping state legislatures enact specific licensing laws for Public Insurance Adjusters. He was selected as NAPIA’s national Man of the Year in 2008.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Claim and Preparation Tips for Hurricane Irma: Meds, Pets, Labels and ZipLocs

By Wes Baldwin, The Baldwin Company, Inc., Charlotte NC

With mega-hurricane Irma hurtling our way this week, now is the time to find and review your homeowners and automobile insurance policies. Call your insurance agent to get updates on your coverage, if you need to.
 

You may or may not have a separate flood insurance policy, which would cover rising water.

But many other kinds of storm-related losses are usually covered by standard homeowners’ policies – in particular, wind damage and water damage from above (for example, rain falling through a hole in your wind-damaged roof). 


Regardless of what kind of property insurance you have, you need to act now to protect those policies and other essential documents, and to make arrangements for your family and your pets to weather the storm with you.

There are many lists available regarding emergency preparation (especially regarding food and water), but here are some practical actions that may have been overlooked:


Do these 2 things right away.
1. First of all, leave right this minute and take each of your cars to a gas station to fill the tanks with a reasonable amount of gas.
  • Don’t put this off: whole neighborhoods are fairly likely to lose power at some point during Irma, and gas pumps need electricity to run.
  • You also don’t want to wait until Irma is literally knocking on your door: gas stations often run out of gasoline when a hurricane nears.

2. While you are out, stock up on strong freezer ZipLoc bags; they provide pretty good protection from water.

  • You are likely to use one- and two-gallon sizes the most.
  • Look for bags labeled for freezer use; any others will be too thin and flimsy for hurricane use.
  • Go for the name brands like ZipLoc and Hefty. Now is not the time to take a chance that bargain brands may or may not work just as well.

Protect your important papers. Use good, strong Ziploc bags to put all the following together NOW:
  • Your homeowners and automobile insurance policies
  • Round up keys and put them in the bag with your policies:
    • Extra set of car keys
    • Extra house key
  • A portable non-electronic list of phone numbers and other contact info for crucial family and neighborhood contacts:
    • Include a paper list of cell-phone numbers for each member of your family/household.
      • Why? Those phone numbers have most likely have been saved on your own cell phone for so long that most days you can’t remember them at all.
      • Your cell phone may run out of power, rendering your Contacts list totally inaccessible.
    • Numbers for distant family members and friends who will need to hear from you
    • Doctors’ and vets’ phone numbers
          You can store this list in your cell phone’s Contacts.
    • But you should also print out this contact list, put it in a ziploc bag, and give a copy to each member of your household
  • If you’re able, print out a GPS-style aerial photo of your house, showing surrounding roads and identifiable landmarks. Write your Zip code on the photo, and then fold it up and put it in a ziploc bag that you can keep in your purse, pocket, or backpack in case you need it to help rescuers find you, if stranded. (Remember: Your actual street address may not be of much use if you have to call 911, as street numbers are rarely visible in flooded areas.)


Pack up all Prescription Medicines for all members of your household.
  • Check to make sure that each person in your household has enough of their meds for at least one week, or better.
  • If necessary, go to your pharmacy immediately and request Emergency Rx Refills for anyone’s medications that are running low. Do not delay.
  • Gather up meds for each member of your household. Pack them in freezer-strength ziploc bags, and label them for each person.
  • Put together lists of prescription medications and pharmacy info for each member of your household
  • Include on these Rx lists any necessary contact info for your family members’ doctors
  • Place these prescription/pharmacy/doctor lists in a separate bag in a separate location from the medications themselves.

If you have pets, they will need you now more than ever. Make plans NOW to look after them during the storm. Most shelters allow pet owners to bring their cats and dogs with them, and during emergency situations, some hotels permit your pets to stay with you, as well. But to do this, common sense dictates that you need to have some way to restrain your pets. Take the time now to….

  • Dig out that dog kennel or cat carrier that is in the back corner of your garage
  • Make sure you also have strong leashes for each of your pets, plus a way to tie the leashes to a post, etc.
  • Make sure each pet is wearing its current rabies tag, as well as easily visible identification on its collar
  • Find your pets’ current shot records, make copies, and place them in a Ziploc with your human medical information
  • Be sure that your pets’ ID tags have your CELL phone number on them. [Remember: your home phone may not be useable either because of power outages or because of flooded homes – so anyone who happens to find your pet won’t be able to reach you on your home phone.]
  • Pack up some pet food and light-weight food and water dishes for your cats and dogs.
    • (Remember: you may have to hand-carry all of this, so don’t try to pack up 25 pounds of dogfood.)
  • If your pets require any daily medications, don’t forget to pack them, too.
  • Put all of the above pet items into a waterproof bag of some sort that you are sure you can carry by hand. If you are using large garbage bags, double-bag them. And then LABEL the bag (see below).

A day or two before the storm is due to arrive at your location – possibly knocking out your power for hours, or days, or more – be sure to take the following precautions:

  • Get $100 to $200 in cash from the bank. Don’t put this off: with power outages, ATM’s and even retail stores’ cash registers may not be working.
  • Charge your cell phone(s).
  • Purchase backup batteries for your cell phones, and charge them too.
  • Put each person’s cell phone and batteries in strong (freezer) ziploc bags.
  • Fill your bathtub with water. Find a one- or two-gallon bucket to keep near it. You will be able to flush your toilets, no matter what, with this water/bucket combination.

Label everything. Make sure you have some wide, clear packing tape. Make big 3” x 5” labels to tape onto each of your plastic bags. Using either a broad marker or a bold font in 24-pt or larger, include the following info:


  • Your family’s last name
  • Your family’s primary cell phone number
  • In smaller print:
    • Names and ages of all household members who should be with you during the hurricane
    • Name and descriptions of any pets traveling with you – also your veterinarian’s phone number
  • Cover each 3 x 5 label with clear packing tape. Cover labels with tape completely.

Go ahead now and put one of these 3 x 5 labels/cards in each household member’s purse, bookbag, backpack, or any other sort of tote bag.

Prepare for the worst...

  • Assume you will have to leave your house in a hurry…
  • Assume that you are going to be without electricity for a while…
  • Assume one or more members of your household will be hard to find/get in touch with…
  • Assume that a lot of important things are going to get wet…
  • Assume your life is going to be totally derailed and disorganized for the next several weeks, but always…

Pray for the best.


Policyholder advocate Wes Baldwin founded the first ever Public Adjusting Firm completely based in the Carolinas, 41 years ago. Now headquartered in Charlotte NC, The Baldwin Company, Inc. is retained by both business owners and homeowners all across the nation to assist them in putting together and presenting their insured property claims to their insurance carriers, making sure that the property owners receive everything which their insurance policies entitle them to. Baldwin is past president of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, with whom he has been instrumental in helping state legislatures enact specific licensing laws for Public Insurance Adjusters (which are not the same as Independent Adjusters, who work for several insurance companies – not for the policyholders). Wes Baldwin was selected as NAPIA’s Man of the Year for the entire U.S. in 2008. www.thebaldwinco.com


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