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Other Views from Those in the Know
George Keys
president, Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters
Prepare For Disaster Now; Here’s How

More than halfway through hurricane season, communities in Florida and along the Gulf Coast are now picking up the pieces after Hurricane Isaac. As devastating as a tropical system like Isaac can be, today’s storm-tracking advances at least enable residents to see the storm and its potential tracks days in advance. In contrast, with everyday emergencies like house fires and water losses caused by failed plumbing, or with large-scale sudden events like tornadoes, property owners often get little to no advance warning. During instances like these, having an emergency plan is critical.
As emergency management officials around the nation this month mark National Preparedness Month, the Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (FAPIA) encourages Floridians to prepare for the unexpected by having a plan and a disaster preparation kit. Within that kit, the contact information for a trusted public adjuster is just as important as copies of insurance policies, medical records and other key personal documents.
While the general public and media often associate property owners’ insurance struggles with hurricanes, sinkholes and other large-scale catastrophic events, it is more often plumbing breaks, kitchen and electrical fires and other common events that trigger complicated and costly claims for commercial and residential policyholders.  In these cases, a public adjuster serves as an important consumer advocate to ensure policyholders understand the claims process – including their obligations, and the obligations of the insurer.
In the critical 48 hours following a damaging event, the public adjuster provides immediate claims-handling assistance to the insured, helping the policyholder fulfill all obligations placed upon them by the insurance policy conditions. Public adjusters handle the preparation, presentation and adjustment of a policyholder’s claim – and are the only insurance professional that prepares comprehensive building damage estimates and property inventories on behalf of policyholders.
FAPIA’s nearly 400 member adjusters have been helping with such claims for two decades, as evidenced by the real life stories of Floridians featured on WhoIsYourPublicAdjuster.com. In many cases, events as seemingly mundane as faulty plumbing and water damage led to months of legal wrangling and worry for policyholders – until they found their public adjuster. On behalf of FAPIA, founded two decades ago with a guiding mission of consumer advocacy, I urge Floridians to take part in National Disaster Preparedness Month by taking these simple but important steps:
1. Make a visual record of your home and possessions. Use your digital camera, smart phone or video recorder to document the condition of your home and belongings before any damage.

2. Prepare a detailed list of all your personal and business property before a disaster strikes. This will help document your claim after a loss.

3. Gather up receipts for large items such as major appliances, furniture and electronics; make copies to include with your property inventory.

4. Create a disaster supply kit that includes copies of your insurance policies, family medical information, deeds and wills, etc. Place the originals of those important documents in a safe deposit box, safe or in a tightly sealed container in your car.

5. Carefully review your insurance coverage to determine your deductible on any potential loss.

6. Know your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding, and wind; confirm whether your policy covers such damage.

7. Review the “Duties After Loss” section of your policy. Failure to follow the provisions listed in this section could result in non-payment on your legitimate claim. Check the “Exclusions” portion of your windstorm policy. Many insurance companies have added new exclusions to coverage, which could affect your protection.

8. If you plan to use the help of a public adjuster, research fapia.net now to find a licensed FAPIA member you trust.
George Keys, Senior Professional Public Adjuster (SPPA), is president of the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters.

by Dr. Radut.