How Deductibles Work
Homeownership entails numerous responsibilities, one of which includes navigating the world of insurance policies and the subtle nuances within them. Central to understanding your homeowners' insurance policy is a mastery of the different types of deductibles: Standard and percentage deductibles, each catering to other aspects of coverage.
Standard deductibles are fixed amounts, typically from $500 to $2,000 and more, representing what you'll pay out-of-pocket for most insurance claims. Regardless of the damage cost, this amount remains constant. However, specific claims are more peculiar and necessitate a different kind of deductible known as the percentage.
Percentage deductibles primarily apply to claims related to wind, hail, and hurricanes, calculated as a percentage of your home's insured value, usually between 1-10%. For instance, for a home insured for $400,000 with a 1% deductible, any claim would require a $4,000 payment out-of-pocket before insurance covers the remaining cost. If you opt for the higher percentage, you can see how quickly this type of coverage can get expensive if something happens to your home.
Beyond the regular realms, there are disaster deductibles. Standard policies typically do not cover natural disasters like earthquakes, mudslides, and sinkholes. The deductibles for these are also percentages of the insured value, with areas prone to specific disasters having higher minimum percentage deductibles, like most California homes having around 15%. In regions like Florida, sinkhole coverage is mandatory due to the prevalence of ground cover collapse.
Flooding is another peril not covered under standard policies, necessitating additional coverage, especially for residents in high-risk flood areas. Flood insurance, available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and private insurers, offers two types of deductibles: Building damage and content damage.
Choosing the right deductible involves balancing short-term and long-term costs, assessing financial resilience, and understanding how deductibles impact premiums. Premiums, the periodic payments made to maintain coverage, are influenced by risk levels set by insurers based on factors like construction, age of the home, and regional claims history.
It's crucial to note that filing claims may increase premiums, regardless of the deductible amount. The nature of your claims, frequency, and the cumulative cost to the insurer are crucial factors in determining future premium costs.
All this being said, you do have help. Your favorite restoration company is your expert on disaster restoration and working with your insurance company to get you back to normal. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How Adjusters Work
When a storm wreaks havoc on your property, assessing the damage and beginning the recovery process can be overwhelming. You may not know where to start. And you certainly wonder who will pay for it all, either your insurance company or you. You have insurance for your home, so you hope everything is covered.
Much of that comes down to the adjuster and the details of your insurance policy. All things being equal, though, what plays out is often based on people. And the decisions they make.
Understanding what an insurance adjuster is and how one operates will help you in the event of the unimaginable happening to your home, whether fire, flood, or other damage. You want a smooth transition from damage assessment all the way to repair and getting back to normal.
What are ‘adjusters’?
Property insurance adjusters, or claims adjusters, evaluate property damage to determine how much an insurance company should compensate the policyholder and even scarier … IF they should. They inspect the damaged property, review policy details, and determine the validity and worth of a claim. In the past, adjusters visited all sites. Now, they may do it remotely. But odds are a visit to your home for the inspection and evaluation is what you can expect.
Once a claim is filed, the insurance adjuster will contact the policyholder to discuss the details of the damage. The adjuster visits the damaged property to assess the extent and cause of the damage. They will take photos, measurements, and notes. The adjuster should review the insurance policy to see what is covered, any exclusions, and the policy limits.
Based on the policy details and the assessment, the adjuster will either approve or deny the claim. If approved, they will provide an estimate of the repair costs.
Once an agreement is reached, the insurance company will pay the claim directly to the policyholder or the repair contractors. If you are paid, you are responsible for paying the contractors. Each state has unique laws regulating payment.
In the process, be sure to document everything. Take as many pictures as you fee you need, then take more. Use video. Protect yourself. The more information you have documented, especially photos and videos, will help your case if you have any issues with coverage.
You have an ace in the hole, as well. That would be your favorite disaster restoration firm. Call them if you ever have damage to your home. They will walk you through the process and be there for you, and do the cleanup and repair work, and most likely bill your insurance company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How Dehumidifiers Work
When storms strike, and heavy rains fall, humidity increases, and the ground can become swollen with water. And that means the humidity in your home can go up, especially in the basement. Add a lack of light, and you have a perfect scenario for mold growth.
Having a water-tight home to fight this would be best, but that’s virtually impossible. But there are ways to waterproof your home — to some degree — but you can always work to reduce the humidity.
That’s where dehumidifiers come into play. They are small appliances (the pros use large commercial units) designed to reduce humidity in the air by removing excess moisture. They are invaluable units to have on hand. Using them improves comfort and prevents serious issues such as mold growth, musty odors, and possible damage to surfaces caused by increased humidity.
How they work
The first is the air intake. Dehumidifiers draw in air with a fan and pass that moisture-laden air through a filter to remove dust and particulates. Then once the air is inside the unit, it meets cooling coils that are colder than the dew point temperature of the ambient air. When this happens, the moisture in the air condenses into water droplets on the waves.
From there, these droplets end up in a drip pan or tank at the bottom of the dehumidifier. Some of these are small, others larger. Some fill up and must be drained regularly, while others have a hose that allows the water to drain out, such as into a sump pump basin. More expensive options include a pump draining into a floor drain, sink, or other receptacle.
As all this happens, heat is lost in the condensation process while the air passes through the cooling coils, and the now dry and cooler air is put back into the room. The cycle continues, and most units have a monitor to tell you the humidity level, but if not, you can use a simple gauge to see the progress. And some can be set to a specific humidity control setting. There are different types of dehumidifiers, with the refrigerant type being the most common.
But even with all your moisture control efforts, the unthinkable sometimes happens. Water intrudes, musty odors occur, and mold can grow. Be sure to contact your favorite restoration company with any questions or concerns. They are there for you. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How Wind Works
Wind, that invisible force that rustles leaves, fills sails, shapes landscapes, and more, is a fascinating natural phenomenon. Have you ever wondered how wind forms and develops?
At its core, wind is the movement of air from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. You could say that the sun is to blame for wind as air movement is primarily influenced by the sun's uneven heating of the Earth's surface. When sunlight strikes the Earth, different surfaces absorb and radiate heat at varying rates. This creates temperature differences, leading to differences in air pressure. This leads to wind.
How it works
As the sun warms the Earth's surface, the air above it also warms up. Warm air is lighter and less dense than cool air, causing it to rise, a current. This upward movement creates a region of low pressure at the ground's surface. So, in areas where the air cools, it becomes denser and sinks, creating high pressure areas.
The movement of air from high-pressure to low-pressure regions generates wind. Air moves horizontally from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure to balance out the differences in pressure. This movement is known as atmospheric circulation.
However, wind patterns are not solely dictated by temperature differences. Other factors, such as the rotation of the Earth and the Earth's topography, play roles in shaping wind patterns.
You might wonder about wind currents, such as in the United States. It’s about the rotation of the Earth. Northern Hemisphere, the deflection causes air to curve to the right, while in the Southern Hemisphere, it curves to the left. This deflection influences the direction of winds, contributing to wind patterns.
On a smaller scale, landscapes such as mountains, valleys, and bodies of water can impact wind patterns. Mountains, for example, can obstruct air flow, causing it to rise and create localized areas of low pressure. Then on the other side, air descends, creating areas of high pressure and often resulting in drier, warmer conditions.
Wind is an integral part of storms. Whether a hurricane, tornado, or strong winds from a thunderstorm, wind is impressive and has a lot of power.
Wind at times turns into your enemy. When that happens and your home is damaged, do the right thing. Call your favorite disaster restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How Sump Pumps Work
Sump pumps are crucial in safeguarding homes from water damage, especially in areas prone to flooding or excessive moisture. These devices are designed to efficiently remove water accumulating in basements or crawl spaces, preventing costly damage and potential health hazards.
At its core, a sump pump is a mechanical device that sits in a specially constructed pit, known also as a sump pit or sump basin, usually located in the lowest part of a basement or crawl space. The primary function of the sump pump is to pump out water that collects in this pit.
This is where it gets interesting, because if any of this fails you, then you could have a flooded basement and thousands of dollars in damages.
How it all works and what you should know
When water enters the sump pit, it triggers a float switch or pressure sensor, depending on the type of pump. These mechanisms activate the pump when the water reaches a certain level, signaling the need for action. Once activated, the sump pump uses an electric motor to power an impeller or propeller, which spins rapidly, creating a centrifugal force.
As the impeller spins, it creates a low-pressure area at its center, causing water to be drawn into the pump through an intake valve or suction pipe. The water is then accelerated and expelled from the pump through a discharge pipe, which directs it away from the house to a designated drainage area, such as a storm sewer or a dry well.
Some sump pumps have additional features to enhance their functionality and reliability. For instance, some models come with a backup power source, such as a battery or generator, to ensure continued operation during power outages when water damage risks are often higher. And some have a check valve system to keep water from flowing back into the pit.
Regular maintenance is essential to ensure the optimal performance of a sump pump. It is recommended to inspect the pump periodically, checking for any signs of damage or debris that may impede its operation. Testing the pump by pouring water into the sump pit can also help verify that it activates and pumps out water as intended.
If the unthinkable does happen and your home is damaged by water from a failed sump pump — or from other water intrusions — then it is time to call in your favorite restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How Lightning Works
We often think of flooding, broken pipes, and failed sump pumps as the leading cause of damage to our homes. And you would be correct in thinking that. But there are other events that can occur that can damage our home besides water intrusion.
Lightning strikes are one of those events that can happen during any thunderstorm and cause considerable damage to homes. It’s important to understand the details behind one of the most powerful natural phenomena in existence.
How does lightning even occur in the first place? It results from a natural electrical discharge that occurs during powerful storms, caused by the buildup of static electricity in the atmosphere, and then released in sudden, powerful bursts.
During a thunderstorm, air currents cause particles to collide and create a separation of electric charge. The negatively charged particles tend to accumulate at the bottom of the cloud, while the positively charged particles accumulate at the top of the cloud. This separation of charge creates an electric field, which can be thousands of volts per meter.
And when it becomes strong enough, the electrical field ionizes the air molecules, creating a path of ionized air called a “leader.” The leader travels downward from the cloud in steps, with each step creating a faint glow. When the leader nears the ground, a stream of positively charged ions is attracted to the leader, and this upward stream of ions is called a positive streamer.
When the two meet, you get lightning, which heats the air around it to thousands of degrees Celsius, causing a thunder shockwave, which is what we hear.
Besides taking cover and protecting yourself, what can you do to prepare and avoid damage to your home from lightning? Here are a few ideas.
Install a lightning protection system: A lightning protection system consists of a metal rod or conductor that is mounted on the roof and connected to a ground rod. This system helps to direct the lightning strike away from your home and safely into the ground.
Unplug appliances: During a thunderstorm, unplug any appliances that are not needed to prevent damage from power surges caused by lightning strikes.
Use surge protectors: Install surge protectors to protect sensitive electronics from power surges caused by lightning strikes.
By taking these precautions, you can help protect your home and keep your family safe during a thunderstorm. But when lightning does strike, or if you have any other damage to your home such as from a fire or flooding, call your favorite restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How Clouds Work
We all know there are rainy seasons and dry seasons and all types of weather in between. Moisture comes to us in all types, and most of us view clouds as the source. But have you ever thought of how clouds work? And what that means for your home?
Clouds are formed when water vapor in the atmosphere condenses into tiny water droplets or ice crystals. This process occurs when warm, moist air rises and cools, causing the water vapor to condense into visible clouds. There are several ways that this can happen.
Convection is one of those ways. This occurs when warm air rises due to being less dense than cooler air. As the warm air rises, it cools and the water vapor it contains condenses to form clouds.
Then you have frontal lifting. This occurs when two air masses with different temperatures and different humidity levels meet. The warmer, less dense air is forced to rise over the cooler, denser air. As the warm air rises, it cools and forms clouds.
Here’s a term you probably haven’t heard of: Orographic lifting. This occurs when air is forced to rise over mountains or other topographic features. As the air rises, it cools and clouds form.
Once clouds form, they can continue to grow and change shape as more water vapor condenses onto existing droplets or ice crystals. The type of cloud that forms depends on the temperature, humidity, and altitude of the air where the cloud is forming. Clouds can be classified into different types, including cirrus, stratus, cumulus, and nimbus, among others.
Thunderstorms are usually associated with cumulonimbus clouds, which are commonly known as thunderstorm clouds. These clouds are characterized by their tall, anvil-shaped tops and can extend up to 50,000 feet into the atmosphere. Cumulonimbus clouds are formed by a combination of warm, moist air rising rapidly and cold air descending, which creates a strong updraft.
And this is the typical situation when a storm hits your home, and you get a flooded basement or other water damage. When that happens, there’s not much you can do at that point but wait until the storm passes and then assess damage.
Trying to clean it up yourself is possible, but there are hazards involved. It’s best to contact your favorite restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
How Hurricanes Work
We all watch with trepidation and fear as hurricanes approach land… even if we don’t live in an affected area, the very thought of what others are about to go through is sobering. Hurricanes are devastating storms that are becoming more common in recent years.
While hurricanes are somewhat predictable based on expert weather forecasters and keeping an eye on tropical storms, they are subject to changes in direction, strength, and potential damage over the period of time from forming to dissipating after hitting land.
While you may not find a hurricane interesting as you hunker down as a storm approaches land, or perhaps are evacuating and heading inland, how hurricanes work is a scientific marvel.
In a nutshell, warm ocean waters and thunderstorms are the building blocks of a hurricane. For one to form, there needs to be warm ocean water and humid, moist air, and as the humid air flows upward, water is released, creating storm clouds. As it rises because of the warm air, the air rotates. As the hurricane forms, it sucks heat from the water to fuel the storm.
But it all starts as a tropical storm. When a tropical storm is announced, everyone looks to see where it is and what the projected path looks like. It is typically westward, and the storm can quickly grow in strength and when it meets certain criteria, such as 74 miles per hour, it is declared a hurricane.
As it moves across the ocean, air rises and cools, forming clouds and thunderstorms, and up high in the clouds, water condenses and forms droplets, releasing even more heat to continue to power the storm. It’s all a powerful, rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms.
During just one hurricane, winds can rage and churn and create nearly 50% of the energy capable of providing electricity to the entire world. What’s interesting is the cloud and rain formation from that same hurricane can release energy that is 400 times that amount.
Hurricanes are interesting. But also deadly. They cause a tremendous amount of property damage and take lives. When one is on its way toward you, evacuate. Your home can be repaired. And when you return and discover you need help, call your favorite restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration