What to Do After a Major Water Leak or Indoor Flood

indoor waterIt’s happened. There’s water everywhere—in your walls, under your carpets and soaking into your belongings. Whether caused by a burst pipe, a broken water heater or a flood, there are things you can do immediately to salvage belongings and limit damage or loss.

1. Stop the Water

If water is coming from inside your home, from a burst pipe or water heater malfunction, shut off the main water valve immediately. It’s a good idea to make sure everyone in your home knows where the shutoff valve is located.

2. Turn Off the Utilities

In a serious water event, turning off the power or natural gas might be necessary to ensure the safety of yourself and your family. In the case of a minor water leak or drip, there probably isn’t a need to shut off the utilities.

3. Prevent Electrocution

Do not use any electrical appliances if your carpet or flooring is wet. Use a wet vacuum to remove water, but check the manufacturer’s instructions before starting.

4. Use Fans to Circulate Air

Encourage drying by strategically placing fans to effectively circulate air. This is especially important in the first 24-48 hours after an indoor flood.

5. Get Water Out Quickly

Fast and safe action on your part can prevent further damage, help you save more of your belongings and minimize the time and expense of repairs. Clean up as much water as possible by mopping or blotting with towels.

6. Get Property to a Dry Location

Move wet belongings and furniture to a dry area. Put furniture on blocks or slide a square of aluminum foil under furniture legs to prevent the wood stain from bleeding into carpeting.

7. Remove Area Rugs from the Floor

The dyes in carpets can stain flooring, carpeting and wood floors.

8. Do Not Lift Tacked Down Carpet

Carpets can shrink after they’ve become wet and left to dry out. If you remove the tacks from wet wall-to-wall carpet, it will probably shrink after it dries out and no longer be wall-to-wall carpet. Consult a carpet specialist for help.

9. Wash Your Clothes

Clean your clothing, linens and other washables that have been soaked as soon as possible.

10. Wipe Excess Water from Furniture

Open drawers and cabinet doors for faster drying. Spread out books to speed drying and prevent further damage.

11. Watch Out for Debris and Pests

If water is flowing in your house there may be dislodged materials such as nails. Snakes and other vermin may seek shelter in your home after a storm or flood, so watch out.

12. File a Claim as Soon as Possible.

The sooner you file a claim to report damage, the sooner we can help you get your home and life back to normal.  See our Report a Claim Information page.

13. Don’t Throw Anything Out

Don’t throw out damaged belongings, especially expensive ones. A claims adjuster may need to inspect them. Also, make a thorough list of stuff that was water damaged as soon as you can. This will help us process your claim faster. It helps to document damage with photos and video.

14. Save Receipts

Save all receipts for any rental equipment, temporary repairs or payments to professional services.

Source: Safeco Insurance

Severe Cold Weather – Be Prepared

Based on an email from the National Weather Service – Paducah KY division, we are going to have extreme cold weather with temperature staying well below freezing affecting our area all of next week. Brutally arctic cold that has not been felt here since the mid-90′s. The system should arrive here Saturday night through Sunday morning and could also bring some rain changing to snow.  The brutal cold comes in Sunday night.thatscold

Looking back at 1995-1996, here are some of the problems associated with this extreme cold outbreak:

  • Scores of people were dealing with dead car batteries.
  • Numerous water lines burst, both in homes and even main town supplies.
  • Overworked furnaces resulted in outages.
  • Natural Gas shortages were reported due to dwindling supplies from prolonged cold and the freezing up of gas wells in some locales.
  • House fires resulted as some tried to thaw their pipes.
  • Ice jams on rivers, which caused barge traffic to back up and even caused the Mississippi river to rise further south downstream.

Okay, so what can you do to make sure you are prepared:

  • If your car battery is old, purchase a new one now.  Quick internet research says you should not turn on your headlights before starting, as the battery may need all the juice to start your car.
  • Leave your water running (not dripping) slightly at your sinks and open up cabinet doors to allow the heat from your home to reach the pipes.  Stock up on bottled water now.
  • Seal off any drafts you have around windows and doors to help hold the heat in your home.
  • If you have a natural-gas tank at your home,  and you’re running low, get it now.
  • If you have a pipe that freezes, try opening up the cabinet doors and use a blow dryer to slowly warm up the pipe.  If that doesn’t work, you may need a small heater to slowly warm the pipe.  If you have to use a small heater, be sure and follow safety instructions and keep it a safe distance from any flammable material.  Have a fire extinguisher nearby just in case.
  • Bring your outside pets in if at all possible.  If not, then make special arrangements to keep them warm by adding a light in their dog house & possibly some extra bedding material. You’ll also need to keep fresh unfrozen water for them to drink.

Resource material: http://1.usa.gov/KmuE2E

More Consumer Information
Winter Weather Claims for Safeco Insureds
What to do about water damage claims

Fireplace & Wood Burning Stove Safety

The smell is in the air.  As the temperature drops, people turn to supplemental heat to help warm their homes.  Before you burn, there are some safety tips that you should consider to reduce your chance of having a hostile fire at your home.

  • Burn only quality hardwoods (Oak, Hickory, or Maple) that have been cut and allowed to season for at least one year.  This drying process helps to reduce the creosote oil that can build up in your chimney and cause a fire.
  • Never burn paper, painted or treated wood.
  • Have your chimney or stove pipe cleaned annually before you need to use your supplemental heating device.  They should also check for damage that could result in additional smoke or fire hazards.
  • Follow guidelines to have all combustible materials (wall, ceiling, floor, rugs, etc.) the proper distance from the heat source.  A minimum distance is 36″, but some manufacturers suggest a greater distance, plus your home insurance may have requirements that may need to be met to qualify for coverage.
  • Teach all young household members & guest about fire safety and practice family fire drills to have a plan of actions should a hostile fire escape your fireplace or wood burning stove.
  • Never go back into a burning house for personal belongings.

Proper safety precautions and planning can make your experience enjoyable, along with saving you money on your heating cost this winter.

Be safe.  Be prepared.

wood_burning_fire_closeup

Deer Insurance?

We here at GoVaughn.com Insurance see lots of deer claims starting now.

They can really cause some damage to your vehicles.

Remember that deer claims usually fall under comprehensive coverage (sometimes referred to as “other than collision coverage”) which is a part of Full coverage insurance. If you don’t hit the deer but run off the road to miss the deer, those claims fall under collision coverage which is many times a larger deductible.

Let us know if you have some questions about auto accidents involving deer.

(original post 9/30/2010 & 10/29/2012)

Here’s a tool to see if you qualify for a tax credit on healthcare reform

We here at Vaughn Insurance are prepared to help you with any questions you might have about  kynect: Kentucky’s Healthcare Connection.

Please contact us!

Own a RV? Play Safeco’s Milematch Sweepsteaks

Attention RV owners!

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Join  Safeco Insurance Milematch Sweepstakes Safeco Milematch and win!

All you have to do is upload a picture of your RV’s odometer.

If your RV’s odometer matches (or is the closest to matching) the number selected in a weekly drawing — you win one of several weekly prizes to be given away.

What auto body shop should I choose?

Auto Body Repair Recomendations

We here at GoVaughn.com Insurance recognize that the insured and claimant make the ultimate decision on which body shop one chooses to repair their vehicle.  You have the choice as to where your automobile body repair is done.

Many of our partner companies have agreements set up with various body shops.  They refer these preferred provider body shops to their insured and/or the claimants.  In those shops, you do not need to get an estimate, just bring in your vehicle and they do the work.  The insurance company pays the preferred provider body shop directly.  All you have to pay is your deductible (if that applies).  This is easier for our partner companies since the estimates and payment for the work can be done electronically.  Before a shop can become a preferred provider, our partner companies review their work and estimating procedures, so that you know that your work will be right.

In years past, the procedure was to get at least three estimates and turn into the agent for reporting.  That usually does not apply any more.  Many times you do not need to get even one estimate.  However, you might want to get one just for your reference.   Most all of our partner companies are also requesting that the insured and claimant direct report the claim to the company. See our report a claim page on our website.

Most all our partner companies are using estimators (not always the adjustor) to review the damages, and they prepare their own estimates.   They pay based on that estimate.  If the body shop finds more damage and needs an additional payment, they will contact the partner company, and the partner company will negotiate the supplemental payment.

We do want to emphasize that the insured and claimant have the ultimate choice of which auto body shop they want to use.  We never want to make or strongly suggest one body shop over another.  We will support the insured and claimant in making sure that our partner companies do the same.

With that being said we have several body shops in Henderson Kentucky that we have found over the years to do good work and have positive feedback from both the insured, claimants and our partner insurance companies.  However we do have one shop that has completed the steps to be a preferred provider for some of our companies and we have listed that shop below.

Bartlett’s Collision Center
Dave Bartlett
125 US Highway 41 (Between Palmer’s and Algonquin’s)
Henderson KY 42420
270.827-1822
(Update as of 5/16/2011 Bartlett’s Collision Center is a PACE Shop for Safeco, Liberty Mutual, & Ohio Casualty)

For information about reporting a claim now please see our Report a Claim page on our website.

What has been your experience using a body shop?  Do you have a body shop that has given you outstanding service and quality work in Henderson Kentucky? (if so let us know!)

 

Storm Shelters – Are you prepared?

With recent tragic events in the Oklahoma, you may be thinking “What can I do to protect myself and family from a massive tornado?”.  There are a few options that I wanted to share with you based on research that I have done to consider how to protect my family.

First and foremost, purchase a NOAA weather radio and leave it turned on.  Second, be to be prepared, have a plan of action, and a safe place to stay during a storm.

Based on the devastation, you can tell that there is little above ground structures that can withstand the force of a F4 or F5 tornado.  The best place to be when mother nature unleashes one of these major storms is underground.  If you don’t have an underground “safe room”, here are some options.

If you can install a below ground shelter, you might consider one of these; Tornado Guard or Southern Illinois Storm Shelters.

If you cannot install an underground storm shelter, here is one that claims to be rated to withstand wind gust of 250 mph.  Safe Shed are precast reinforced concrete that can be painted to match the exterior of your home.  Set up appears to be fairly simply and fast.

Research information:

  • NOAA Safe Room
  • FEMA Safe Room
  • National Storm Shelter Association

Have you considered a storm shelter?

Do you have a storm shelter?

How far is your home to your Fire Department?

If you live in the county or thinking of buying a home in the county, you better know the answer to this question.  

There is a company that rates fire departments called ISO (Insurance Services Office).  They have developed a system of checking the fire department’s ability to fight a fire called Fire Suppression Rating Schedule.  This system is used to determine the PPC (public protection class) rating of the fire department, ranging from a PPC 1 to a PPC 10.

firedepartmentA PPC 1 rating is the best rating that a fire department can obtain.  Likewise, a PPC 10 rating is the worst rating, which basically means you have no protection.  Most of Henderson county fire departments were rated a PPC 9 for years.  In recent years, some fire departments have been working hard to obtain a better PPC rate.

The distance to the fire department is important.  An example would be a home located in Zion district which carries a PPC rating of 6/9.  If the home was within 5 miles of Zion FD and had a fire hydrant within a 1000 feet, that home would qualify for a PPC 6 rating.  If the home was within 5 miles of the Zion FD, but did not have a fire hydrant, it would qualify for a PPC 9 rating.  If the home was over 5 miles to the Zion FD, then it would be rated as a PPC 10.

Okay, the bottom line:  How does this affect my premium?  If you fall into a PPC 10 rating, some companies will not write your insurance.  Those that do will charge a hefty price to insure your home.

Example:  $211,000 frame house in the county.  Based on an excellent insurance score, claim free and with the auto/home discount.  Actual rates will vary.
PPC 10 – $1,617
PPC 9 – $990
PPC 8 – $694
PPC 7 – $554
PPC 6 – $476
 
How far is your home to your responding fire department?
Do you know what your fire department is rated?
Do you donate to your fire department or volunteer?

New Roof Discounts and Changes to Policy Terms

howoldisyourroof

There are even some companies that won’t write your home insurance unless your roof has been updated in the past 15 years.

With our area getting hit so hard by weather events over the past few years (see below), a lot of companies have started looking at the age of your roof. We have seen some companies exclude coverage depending on the age of your roof. We have seen other companies change your policy from replacement cost on your roof to actual cash value, which means they would pay less. Then there are some homeowners’ insurance companies that are increasing your deductible for wind & hail damage.

With all these changes, it is very important that your agent be made aware of the age of your roof. Please keep all documents related to your roof, that includes the type of roof installed, receipts, and canceled checks. Provide a copy of this to your agent to make sure that you are given credit for the maintenance that you have provided your home.

The reason is simple: roofs have a life expectancy. When you buy your shingles, they come with a 10-35 year warranty. That is how long they are expected to last. Unlike your siding or other parts of your house, roofs fail faster and require more maintenance. Roofs wear out. Plain and simple. Just like tires on your vehicle. They are designed to be replaced after so long, which is considered routine maintenance. Because of that when you have a claim that involves your roof or even the tires on your vehicle, the companies will want to know their age.

Some notable weather events for Henderson County Kentucky (KY) over the past five years:

Jan 29, 2008 – High Wind & Hail
Sept 14, 2008 – Hurricane Ike – High Wind
Jan 27, 2009 – Ice Storm
Feb 11, 2009 – High Wind
March 28, 2009 – Tornado Corydon area & Hail
April 10, 2009 – High Wind & Hail
May 8, 2009 – High Wind & Hail
June 10 & 11, 2009 – High Wind & Hail
April 30, 2010 through May 3, 2010 – High Wind
April 3-4, 2011 – High Wind & Hail
April 22, 2011 – Tornado Poole area & Hail
May 25, 2011 – High Wind
Feb 29, 2012 – High Wind & Hail
March 2, 2012 – High Wind & Hail, possible Tornado
April 26, 2012 – High Wind & Hail
Jan 11-12, 2013 – Strong Storms

Have you had a claim associated with the weather?

Has your company changed the coverage or deductible on your roof?

Do you understand wind & hail deductibles, how it applies to your homeowners’ policy? Read the information from the Kentucky Department of Insurance on the issue.

You can let us know here about any updates you have recently made to you home.



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