Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tip #3 - Documenting the Process

You need to keep thorough records to help you survive the settlement of an insurance claim. Because there are three parts to a claim (Structure, Personal Property, & Additional Living Expenses), I have dealt with nine adjusters. The insurance company keeps changing adjusters and the records are not always complete. Many documents which have been faxed or hand-delivered to their office are no where to be found. Verbal expectations were not documented in the log for reference by the the next adjuster. Follow these tips to protect yourself:

  • Keep a log in which all telephone, e-mails, meetings, other correspondence are recorded. Include the date, time, and the person with whom you communicated. Write a summary of the topics that were discussed.
  • Keep copies of all communications filed in chronological order. Print out all e-mails that are received.
  • If documents are delivered in person, have the person receiving them sign a letter (prepared in advance) that contains the contents delivered, the date & time delivered, the name of the person receiving the documents.
  • When documents are faxed, ask the adjuster to acknowledged receipt with a phone call or a return letter or fax. Make sure to save the confirmation page that is printed out by most fax machines. If the fax machine does not have this feature, then note the time that that the submission is complete.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Blogging Again After Hurricane Rita

Copyrighted by C J McCollumThe last year has been a blur. My time has been consumed with traveling, taking care of elderly parents, teaching last spring, and dealing with Hurricane Rita.

My parents live in an area of Southeast Texas that was greatly affected by Hurricane Rita. My parents' home received severe damage which prevented them from living in their home. Of this date no repairs have begun and we are still working with the insurance to agree upon the extend of the damage. As expected the insurance company is being very conservative and wanting to settle the claim quickly.

I regret my responsibilities did not allow me to post everyday about pre-storm preparations, to evacuating my parents, to learning the ropes of dealing with:

  • depression of my elderly parents,
  • clean-up of the home,
  • FEMA,
  • Red Cross,
  • structural engineers,
  • contractors, and
  • insurance companies. 

I am fortunate to have the freedom to move to the area and help my parents through this nightmare. I know of many people that do not understand that such a terrible force of nature can cause unseen damage. They are settling with the insurance company too quickly so that they can patch, paint, and fix all the cosmetic damage.

After this is over, I plan to publish detailed tips to prepare and live through a storm or other catastrophe. I would like to start this spring before the 2006 hurricane season begins. List below are two importanat tips to get you started with pre-storm preparations. These are off the top of my head and will be better organized at a later time. Feel free to comment or e-mail me with your experiences or suggestions.

Tip #1 - Know Your Insurance Policy & Coverage
Read your Homeowner's Policy and Renewal Certificate. The policy is a booklet with a detailed explanation of what is covered. If you do not have this, ask your local agent for a copy. It is not always given to you at renewal time. The Renewal Certificate is given to you yearly when you renew your Homeowner's Policy. It has the cost and the extent of your coverage. Make a list of questions as you read these items.

Check your coverage with your insurance company before the hurricane season begins. Have your local agent explain your coverage and answer your questions. Ask about flood insurance.

Place your copy of your Homeowner's Policy and Renewal Certificate, along with contact numbers for the insurance company, in your emergency/evacuation supplies. Place these items in sealable kitchen bags for protection and quick reference. If possible file your claim (800 number) with the insurance company immediately after the storm. In some cases your insurance company will isssue a check for Additional Living Expense (ALE) to use while you are displaced from your home.

Tip #2 - Documenting & Organizing an Inventory
Take photos of the contents of each room of your house and yard. Do not forget to read your policy to see if it covers damage to out buildings (tool sheds, greenhouses, etc.). Develop the habit of taking pictures and archiving receipts, instruction manuals, etc. the same day the item is purchased. This will keep your inventory up-to-date. Digital photos are the best, but traditional film can be developed and burned on a disk for a small fee.

Most insurance companies will require proof of ownership in the form of photos, owner's manuals, receipts, etc. Save this information in several forms....electronic, notebooks, portable file boxes, etc. Your method will depend on your budget and the electronic equipment you have available. I suggest a portable file box with folders. Even if you have information on your computer, store backup CDs in this file box. A file box is more portable than a computer during evacuation.

Take your camera with you during evacuation. Take photos of everything when your return. Do not dispose of anything until you take a photo. Each time you take a picture, keep a log of date, time, location, and type of damage seen. Even though we had digital cameras, we always pack disposable cameras in the emergency/evacuation supplies. If your file box is large enough, pack a few cameras inside.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Printmaking Project - 1st Proof

Copyrighted by Cara J. McCollum

My daughter is studying printmaking during a summer session at SCAD. This is the first proof of a project for her printmaking class. I anticipate that she will submit the final project for a group exhibition of works celebrating the artist's favorite novel...The Odd Sea, Frederick Reiken. The exhibition, Novel Ideas, will be displayed in the Pinnacle Gallery in Savannah, Georgia.