Winter Storm Preparations

Winter StormMillions of people in the Northeast are bracing for Winter Storm Juno, which will become a major snowstorm today and through Wednesday with the potential for blizzard conditions and more than 2 feet of snow.

The high confidence in forecast wind and snowfall led the National Weather Service to issue blizzard warnings well in advance of the storm from the New Jersey shore all the way to down to east Maine, including the cities of New York City, Boston, Providence, Hartford and Portland. Most of the warnings are in effect from Monday afternoon or evening through late Tuesday night.

At least 28 million people are in the zone of potential blizzard conditions, and millions more will see enough snow to complicate travel.

The National Weather Service is urging all residents to rushed preparations to completion by today for this major winter storm. Do not proceed with any travel plans in the affected areas late Monday and Tuesday or you could put yourself in great danger. Prepare for power outages both during and in the days after the storm.

  • Add the following supplies to your disaster kit in preparation for winter weather:
    • Rock salt to melt ice on walkways
    • Sand to improve traction
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
    • Also include adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and windowsills to keep the warm air inside.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
  • Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural stability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow – or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
  • If you have a car, fill the gas tank in case you have to leave. In addition, check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
    • Antifreeze levels – ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
    • Battery and ignition system – should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
    • Brakes – check for wear and fluid levels.
    • Exhaust system – check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
    • Fuel and air filters – replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas.
    • Heater and defroster – ensure they work properly.
    • Lights and flashing hazard lights – check for serviceability.
    • Oil – check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
    • Thermostat – ensure it works properly.
    • Tires – make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
    • Windshield wiper equipment – repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify winter weather
  • Freezing Rain creates a coating of ice on roads and walkways.
  • Sleet is rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Nor’easter’s are winter storms that move north up the East Coast of the United States. Severe nor’easters can bring high winds, heavy precipitation, and low temperatures.
  • Winter Weather Advisory means cold, ice and snow are expected.
  • Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.
  • Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.
  • Blizzard Warning means heavy snow and strong winds will produce a blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill.
  • Frost/Freeze Warning means below freezing temperatures are expected.
When a Winter Storm WATCH is issued
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio, and television stations, or cable television such as The Weather Channel for further updates.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel
When a Winter Storm WARNING is issued
  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • If you must go outside, several layers of lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
  • Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if you must…Carry an Emergency Supply Kit in the trunk.
  • Keep your car’s gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • Eat regularly and drink ample fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.

CLM Annual Conference Packed with Strong Content

CLM Conference

CLM Annual Conference Packed with Strong Content

Looking to advance your career? Connect with other industry leaders? Stay on top of the latest industry trends and topics? Then attending the CLM Annual Conference is as must. In addition to incredible general sessions that include an insurance company CEO roundtable and a look at new technologies and their impact on the industry, the Annual Conference features more than 80 interactive roundtable sessions on different subjects, including:

  • ADR
  • Bad Faith
  • Claims Management
  • Construction
  • Cyber Liability
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • eDiscovery
  • Environmental
  • Ethics
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Litigation Management
  • Municipal Law
  • Premises Liability
  • Product Liability
  • Professional Liability
  • Reinsurance
  • Risk Management
  • Subrogation
  • Transportation
  • Workers’ Compensation

These sessions are complemented by amazing social and networking events. Don’t miss out on this premier annual industry event. Check out the Annual Conference website for complete details and session descriptions.

 

register now 2

Equipment Breakdown Coverage Basics

equipment_breakdown 1A 60” Ultra HD curved screened TV that was worth $6000 was damaged by a power surge in a corporate conference room.  A 12 unit apartment building’s water heater has stopped working due to an internal explosion.  Looks like no coverage and likely a denial, but something that could cost the insured thousands of dollars to repair or replace.

As field adjusters, we are familiar with these types of claims.  Well my fellow adjusters, do any of you remember something called Boiler and Machinery Coverage in your distant past?

Then welcome an old friend with a new name!!  But you say, wait, that only provides coverage for pressured vessels and boilers that rupture or break apart.  And that may have been correct 20 years ago.  Today, however, Equipment Breakdown Coverage has been expanded and refined.  In addition to covering boilers and other pressurized vessels, the coverage now frequently insures against the formerly excluded perils of mechanical breakdown and electrical arcing.  The trigger of coverage for an equipment breakdown loss requires an “Accident” to occur.  An “Accident” is frequently defined as a fortuitous event that causes direct physical damage to “covered equipment.”  Unlike commercial property coverage which covers external causes of loss, Equipment Breakdown Coverage covers loss within the equipment.

iStock_000010035942Medium - CopyA number of recent articles recommend that all commercial insureds should add Equipment Breakdown Coverage to their policy.  The costs to replace and repair large systems are growing more costly every year.  Many insurance carriers make this type of insurance available, but many have other companies such as Hartford Steam Boiler or Mutual Boiler Re underwrite and assist in the adjustment of the claims with the insurance company’s own desk adjusters.

Now that you know a little more about the coverage offered under such coverage, it is very important that field adjusters review and understand the coverage that is available to an insured.  If you see Equipment Breakdown Coverage available to an insured, you must be able to determine whether an excluded property claim may be covered under the Equipment Breakdown Coverage and to complete the additional investigation required.  Now maintenance records, contact with the insured’s contractor and possible expert examination may be required.  Immediate contact with insurance company adjusters and if the coverage is underwritten, notice by the insurance company adjusters to the sub-carriers become crucial, especially with situations involving the loss of heat in winter conditions.  In many cases, repairs or replacement will be completed before the loss can be adjusted.  Instructions by field adjusters to remind the insured not to throw away any damaged parts and to permit joint inspections must be promptly initiated.  As with all time sensitive losses, communication and prompt reporting of issues are critical to successfully adjusting the loss.

If you are interested in finding out more information about Equipment Breakdown Coverage and how to adjust EB losses, feel free to contact us at Provencher & Company LLC.

© Provencher & Company LLC 1/11/2015

Recommended Webinar: Sprinkler System Claims: Information Every Property Adjuster Should Know

fire sprinkler

Provencher & Company is recommending the following upcoming webinar:

Sprinkler System Claims:

Information Every Property Adjuster Should Know

January 30, 2015

by

PT&C LWG Forensic Consulting Services

PTC

One hour of CEU credit will be offered in

AL, FL, GA, IN, LA, MS, NH, OK, TX, UT, WY and Alberta.

Click here to register!

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The Most Dangerous Time Of The Year

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Keep fire safety in mind when heating your home in the winter months ahead. December, January and February are the leading months for home heating fires making it the most dangerous time of the year. Overall, heating equipment is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires and home fire deaths.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) In 2011, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 53,600 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 400 civilian deaths, 1,520 civilian injuries, and $893 million in direct property damage. These fires accounted for 14% of all reported home fires.

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Some simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening. The winter season is one of the most dangerous times of the year for household fires, so take note of these tips to reduce your risk.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.
  • Have working fire extinguishers.

Based on 2007-2011 annual averages:

  • Space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for one-third (33%) of home heating fires and four out of five (81%) of home heating fire deaths.
  • The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (28%) was failure to clean, principally creosote from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
  • Placing things that can burn too close to heating equipment or placing heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding, was the leading factor contributing to ignition in fatal home heating fires and accounted for more than half (53%) of home heating fire deaths.
  • Half (50%) of all home heating fires occurred in December, January and February.

For more information on Fire Safety, view our post on  Home Fire Safety

From all of us here at Provencher & Company, please have a warm & SAFE winter season!

Minnesota Holds “Comparable Material and Quality” Requires Wholesale Replacement Where Undamaged Siding Is Faded

by Dick Bennett

cozen article 1-5-15Matching issues are frequently problematic when storms damage only portions of an insured structure’s exterior and it proves impossible to replace the damaged sections with material that is an exact match for the rest of the building’s roof or siding.  Earlier this month, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that the phrase “comparable material and quality” means material that is suitable for matching; with respect to color, a reasonable match – not an identical match – is all that is required.  In Cedar Bluff Townhome Condominium Ass’n. v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., – N.W.2d – , 2014 WL 7156914, 2014 Minn. LEXIS 661 (Minn., Dec. 17, 2014), however, the court held that that meant that all of the siding on 20 buildings had to be replaced to avoid a color mismatch even though less than 2% of it had actually sustained hail damage.  Continue reading