Posts Tagged ‘Insurance’

How to Prepare for the Freeze: Tips for Louisiana Contractors and Property Owners

By Cha già José from Vienna, Austria (Frozen Pipes Uploaded by darkweasel94) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

As a resident of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, I do not see temperatures fall below freezing very often. When this does happen it is usually for a brief time and residents usually do not have much worry. Last night and tonight put the South Louisiana region in rare air.

When temperatures fall below freezing for durations of such as these its considered a hard freeze. I have clients, plumbers and HVAC companies who are working over time right now. It is very important for contractors and property owners to know what is happening and how to prevent a possible disaster.

The most common and most harmful result of a freeze such as this is for a water pipe to freeze and burst. I have had clients who have had water leaks for days without realizing and others for just a few hours and the damage was serious. Not only will the plumber bill be high to repair the broken pipe, but the water leak will cause significant damage as well.

If you own property that suffers damage from a frozen pipe breach, you will need to follow a few steps to make sure that you prevent harmful damage and then get made whole for any resulting damage.

Freeze Damage Prevention

Here, in South Louisiana we know how to protect property from Hurricanes and flooding but do not often experience sub-freezing temperatures. The two best ways to prevent pipes from freezing are to keep water running by dripping a faucet or to wrap your pipes in insulation.

Freeze Repair

Contacting a licensed plumber or handyman to aid in the quick response is pivotal to mitigating damages. Any insurance claim will be reviewed with the insureds duty to mitigate its damages in mind. The best course of action here is to get the damage repaired and stop further damage from any water leaks. This can be costly and any insurance funds my not be available for months.

Preserving Evidence and Reporting Claim After The Freeze

Once you repair the pipe and remediate the water damage, a claim needs to be processed with your property damage insurance provider. You should obtain this information from your insurance agent or from your policy.

Proper and prompt notice of the damage are essential to any claim. The damage is significant and an insurance claim may be made, then you will want to take pictures as the damages is revealed and through the construction process.

Next you will want to properly notify the insurance company by initiating the claim process. This will be a formal claim made in writing. Many policies need a “sworn proof of loss” to accompany the claim stating exactly how much damage happened. This can be ascertained from the contract you had with the plumber and contractor to repair all the damage.

The insurance company will want to send out its own adjuster to review the damage. Many savvy owners will hire their owner adjuster to provide an alternative report to the insurance adjuster report.

Many times its helpful to retain counsel in more complex situations to make sure you maximize your recovery and make sure that the insurance company is not getting the better of you.

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Cut Your Risks: Build – or Rebuild – Sustainably

Cut Your Risks: Build – or Rebuild – Sustainably

This article was contributed by Carrie Van Brunt-Wiley, Editor of the HomeownersInsurance.com blog. Carrie has been writing insurance news and consumer information for HomeInsurance.com since 2008. She graduated from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington in 2005 with a B.A. in Professional Writing and Journalism.

Green building practices do more than protect the environment, and smart homeowners have more than energy savings to gain when they strive to comply with LEED requirements. Homes built with sustainable, energy-efficient materials are proving to be less vulnerable to wind, hail and water, making them better investments for homebuyers and more attractive to insurers seeking to lessen risk. This could mean lower insurance premiums for homeowners who take steps to increase their homes’ sustainability.  

Shelter from the storm

Extreme weather is nothing new to Louisiana, but the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina was particularly severe.  The need to rethink building practices became all too clear overnight. If there is a silver lining to be found in the Katrina disaster, it’s that those communities devastated by the hurricane have had – and still have – the opportunity to rebuild in such a way that should make them better able to withstand the next storm that blows through.

The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports an average cost of more than $6,000 to mitigate an insurance claim caused by severe weather. According to the III, Hurricane Katrina cost $16.2 billion in insurance claims, averaging $96,821 each. Consider how much lower this might have been if more homes and businesses had been built using impact-resistant roofing materials such as aluminum or steel that can withstand not only fire but wind, hail and flying debris. Some insurance companies already offer premium discounts to Louisiana homeowners who install these roofing upgrades.

It pays to upgrade your home

Water damage claims typically cost insurance companies around $7,000, according to the III, and make up almost 25% of homeowners claims in the U.S.  In an effort to bring this average down, some insurance companies may offer lower premiums for homes that earn Indoor Water Efficiency points by complying with the LEED v2009 requirement of 20% water savings.

Following are some other upgrades that could lower your homeowners insurance costs:

  • New plumbing systems
  • Updated HVAC systems
  • Modernized electrical systems

Updating these systems in your home can help you avoid expensive water damage, mold and fire claims. Insurance companies recognize that you are lowering your chance of filing claims and are likely to reward your efforts.

The benefits of green building are so great that some homeowners insurance companies now offer green replacement coverage for standard homes.  If a non-LEED certified home is damaged or devastated by covered peril, green replacement covers the cost to rebuild using sustainable, energy-efficient materials.

Savvy homeowners know that saving energy and materials are the underlying reasons to go green. But they also understand that the value of sustainable building goes beyond those savings. One way you could realize that value is by lowering your home insurance risk, which could mean lower home insurance premiums.

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Louisiana Contractors – Workers Compensation Insurance

Back in 2009 this blog reported on the very topic of Workers Compensation insurance, stating that 1 and 5 businesses are breaking workers compensation laws. In my everyday practice, I feel like the trend is still prevalent in the construction industry. The main reason being is due to the exorbitant price of this insurance on contractors.

Workers Compensation is codified in Louisiana under Revised Statute 23:1021 et seq. There are a myriad of rules and definitions within this chapter of the code that would make any contractors head spin. There are a few key items to remember when classifying employees. First and foremost is that there is a presumption of employee status, as seen in La. R.S. 23:1044. This can be overcome by a number of factors which would make the worker, an independent contrator rather than a employee. La R.S. 23:1045 is where the law states that independent contractors and subcontractors are exempt from coverage. Although the price to insure all employees under workers comp insurance is high, the price that is paid if an accident happens to an uninsured worker is much higher. Furthermore, when the insuring companies do an audit at the end of the year of the status, there can be a hefty price tag for improper reporting.

I represent a number of clients who are learning the hard way that companies like LWCC and Louisiana Home Builders Association are not fun to litigate against for a contractor trying to make profits. These companies have either in-house attorneys or law firms who handle these cases day in and day out. There is almost no incentive for them to settle claims because there is no fear of pricey litigation. As for the contractor, attorney fee bills keep going higher and at the end of the day the contractor can pay double and triple of what they would have if they had properly reported or settled early.

So let this be a warning to all contractors who are trying to push the line when it comes to workers compensation insurance, its just not worth it. Just like fighting any insurance company, even if the insurer is wrong, they will fight to the bitter end to be proven so. Taking an early haircut, so that you can get back to making money in the industry, can be a win-win for your construction company.

Posted in:     Construction Contracts, Construction News, Disputes, Insurance, Labor Law, Litigation, Louisiana, Payment Requirements  /  Tags: , , , , , , ,   /   1 Comment

Construction Insurance Rates Predicted To Increase

According to a recent Press Release from Marsh, a leader in insurance broking and risk management, construction firms across the U.S. will be facing new challenges in the upcoming year. Insurance rates have been declining for close to a decade, but rates are forecasted to increase between 8 and 10 percent. Firms with poor loss histories will receive higher rates, and some may not even be able to renew their policies.

This rise in rates is apparently the result of “soft market conditions” in recent years. Michael Anderson, Leader of Marsh’s U.S. Construction Practice, stated, “This comes against the backdrop of medical cost inflation and changes to some state statutes that have extended coverage beyond the insurers’ originally intended scope.” Mr. Anderson also goes on to explain that even with the increase in rates, the industry’s capital is still strong resulting in market conditions remaining competitive.

To read more about this Press Release and other interesting Construction Market Updatesclick here.

Contractors need to be sure to stay current on all insurance so that the contractor will limit its exposure when occurrences happen. Being insured is a major expense in all construction companies. That expense will be justified when a claim is made. Insurers seek to exclude or deny coverage, therefore a good attorney will be needed to fight back. Here at Wolfe Law Group, LLC we handle situations where we work with insurers to aid our clients and other situations where we fight insurers to get them to pay our clients what they are owed under the policy.

Posted in:     Business Matters, Construction News, Insurance  /  Tags: , , , , , , , ,   /   Leave a comment

Hurricane Isaac – Are You Prepared

This week New Orleans and south Louisiana are preparing for Hurricane Isaac to have an impact on the region. With these type of events come an aftermath where property owners and contractors are left scrambling to put the pieces back together. The best way to quell the negative effects of an event like this is to be prepared.

Undoubtedly, there will be those who need to make property damage claims. Undoubtedly there will be contractors who come into the area trying to make a few dollars on the repair. It will be tempting to save a few dollars and go with the cheap (unlicensed or uninsured) contractor but that is a recipe for disaster.

There are lots of great resources for homeowners and contractors alike at Louisiana State Contrators Licensing Board’s website. This is a very important step in finding good qualified contractors to do remediation work. Further, contractors who come in from out of state will need to register on this site before performing work in Louisiana.

As for dealing with insurance companies to make your claim. I advise clients to take pictures and video of your property before the storm makes landfall. This will give you an up-to-date log of your inventory. Then after the damage has occurred, then you will need to make yet another video/picture document log. Concurrently with this you will need to put your insurer on notice of any and all claims. Look to your policy, insurer’s website, or the Louisiana Department of Insurance website for contact information on your company. Notice of the claim is nearly as important as documenting the claim. Click here for a more detailed claims process rundown.

In recent years Wolfe Law Group has handled hundreds of insurance claims dealing with property loss. Contacting experienced professionals to help with your claim will ensure that you receive the maximum amount of indemnity. We will be monitoring the situation closely for our neighbors in South Louisiana.

 

 

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