What to do if your business suffers from malicious damage or burglary?

All properties are at risk of malicious damage or burglary, no matter how good the location or how well-respected the business is. It is a potential hazard for any property owner but if it occurs, it is thankfully relatively simple to deal with and resolve.

Malicious damage comes in many forms and many degrees of severity, from simple graffiti or glass breakage to the more extreme end of the scale, such as robbery or arson.

Burglary, Malicious DamageIn all cases, the extent of damage should be determined by a professional loss assessor before an insurance claim is made.

  • The first step you should take when malicious damage or burglary is reported or discovered is to ensure that the building is safe to enter. Inform any employees or others who will need to be aware of the situation and if the damage is particularly extensive, do not open for business until you are certain that no further damage will be caused by doing so.
  • Next, call the guards. Try to leave everything exactly as you found it – avoid moving items or cleaning up until after they have visited the site. They may need to gather evidence, dust for fingerprints, and determine the motives and methods of those responsible for causing the damage. If you have CCTV in operation on the premises, have it ready for them to review as this will be essential to their investigation.
  • At this point you will need the services of Clearys Loss Assessors to gain a full picture of the damage caused. If cleaning up and repairs are vital to make the building secure, and the loss assessor is unable to visit the site immediately, take extensive photographs, video, and written inventory of the damage. However, if at all possible you should wait until they have examined the building before beginning any of this.
  • The next step in the process is to make an insurance claim and, depending on the outcome of the police investigation, press charges against the perpetrators. In either case, you will need to keep extensive and meticulous records of the incident including CCTV, photographs and videos, details of repair works, financial losses, etc.
  • Finally, take precautionary measures to reduce the risk of malicious damage or burglary occurring again. If you have not already done so, install an alarm system and camera surveillance, new durable locks, and if necessary, security personnel to man the property after hours.

What to do in the event of an escape of water below ground.

An escape of water below ground usually comes in the form of burst pipes or damaged plumbing systems which cause damage to properties either by water seeping into the building from below, or in less severe cases, by affecting water pressure and flow in the plumbing system of the property.

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In both cases, if the problem is left unnoticed or unfixed in the long term, significant damage can occur. If such an incident occurs, here is some advice on how to handle the situation:

  • Find the location of the leak (or leaks): This should be done by a plumbing professional. The operator will locate any leaks by closing off controlling valves, which will reduce or stop the flow to the affected water main. At this stage you will have a reasonably accurate idea of the impact and severity of the escaped water. Once this has been done, shut off the water valve until repairs have been completed.
  • Find what caused the leak: In the case of water escaping below ground, this could be many things; the age of the pipes and material they are made from, soil conditions that may have caused corrosion of the pipes, ground or water temperature causing the pipes to expand and contract, or changes in water pressure exacerbating weak spots in the pipes..
  • Making an Insurance Claim: Most insurance policies will cover escape of water claims. Contact Clearys Loss Assessors to get a professional account of the damage. Take photos or videos of the affected parts of the property as soon as possible, in case there is a delay in arranging for the assessor to visit the site. He or she will take a full record of all damage and the losses inflicted in order to process an insurance claim. Contact with the loss assessor should be made as soon as possible, preferably before repair works have begun.

In cases where below ground escape of water has been occurring for years, subsidence can be a problem. This is when the soil under the property’s foundations has become unstable due to water washing away the soil particles. As a result, the foundations of the building begin to subside. A thorough check on this should be carried out in any significant case of escape of water below ground.

What happens if your business is affected by fire?

No matter how prepared you may be or how many precautions you take, the risk of a fire in your commercial property is always present. Thankfully, most fires result in only minor damage to equipment or paint work. A serious fire, however, can have a devastating effect on a business and incur massive financial losses, both through temporary ceasing of trade and the cost of repair works. The services of a loss assessor are key in this instance and will ensure both you and your insurance broker are getting the fairest assessment of damage and compensation.

Dublin Fire

To help make the process run as smoothly as possible, here are some steps you should take in the event of a commercial property fire:

  • Once the fire has been dealt with and the immediate danger has passed, it is critical that you inform your insurance company and landlord (if you don’t own the property) about the event straight away. Arrange for a loss assessor to visit the site and get a better indication of the damage; your insurance company may also send a loss adjuster to verify the condition of the site.
  • Next, ensure the premises are safe and that there is no risk of further damage. The fire brigade will be the best judgement of this. Only when they say it is safe to do so should you re-enter the building. Thoroughly examine all gas and electricity appliances and outlets, and make sure the supply for both is turned off.
  • Remove any valuables from the building; any business or accounts records, trading licenses, cash, employee documentation, etc. Secure the building and protect it from further damage (through vandalism, theft or weather) by informing the police. Do not leave the site until it has been fully secured.
  • The loss assessor will then visit the site. Take photographs and create an inventory of damage to aid them; they will keep their own corresponding version. The loss assessor will handle contact with the insurance company during this stage. During repairs, keep meticulous receipts and records at all stages of the work to supplement your claim.

Insurance Claim Form

The insurance company will then determine the exact details of the claim, which will vary depending on the cause of the fire, damage incurred by it and any financial losses as a result. You will be notified as soon as a conclusion is reached, and then the claim can be processed.

Drying up your home after the floods is a challenge

The Office of Public Works recently published a guide to restoring your home or business from the recent floods in Ireland.  We suppose that almost a month after the disaster the initial restoring works like cleaning are already done, but if you still struggle with the longest process of all – drying you place, then we can help you. Here is a short guide to how to deal with remaining water or moisture in your home or business building.

House Flood

Air circulation is the best way to dry out a property and clear the air inside. Be patient and make sure the property is completely dry before you move back in.

Some Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Do open your doors and windows to ventilate your home.
  • Do ensure your house is secure.
  • Do unblock airbricks and vents.
  • Do wash your hands with disinfectant if you came into direct contact with water.
  • Do check external walls and the roof for structural damage before entering a property.
  • Don’t attempt to turn on any services until they have been checked by an expert.
  • Don’t attempt to move any heavy or unstable objects by yourself – get help.

Drying the property:

  • You can allow your property to dry naturally, but that can take months. Forcing the drying process can speed it up so that it only takes a number of weeks. Whatever way you choose to dry your property, make sure that the moisture trapped within the structure of the property is removed. Sometimes the walls may feel dry on the outside but they are still damp internally. If in doubt get a professional in to ensure that your property is completely dry.
  • If your heating has been tested by a professional and is certified safe to use, it can be turned on to help dry the house. Keep the temperature at around 20 to 22 degrees celcius. Excessive temperatures should be avoided as rapid heating may lead to cracking of plaster work, etc.
  • Be aware that temperature alone will not dry your property. Air circulation and humidity are critical factors to consider.
  • Good ventilation is essential so keep windows and doors open during good weather and ajar during wet weather.
  • If you are using a dehumidifier leave external windows and doors closed, especially during wet weather.

If you haven’t still contacted you insurance company for a claim settlement, you can always first refer to an expert loss assessors company like Clearys Loss Assessors. Hence, you might get an additional advice and guidance for obtaining a better settlement.

Holiday season is here! Get your property ready!

Holiday season is the time when many people decide to leave their home and spend the Christmas vacation in the mountain or in their holiday home. Before you leave there are a couple of things which you have to take care of so that your primary residence stays in top shape. We have thought of everything. Take a look at these simple steps to follow when you have to winterize a house.

“Pack, lock and go”

But before that make sure:

  1. Make sure motion sensor lights and central station alarms are working and set before you leave home.
  2. Turn off water at the main shut-off valve, unless some household items require it to remain on. Such items may include an ice maker, an automatic sprinkler system that doesn’t have a separate shut-off, and a pool.
  3. Most newer water heaters are equipped with”vacation” mod setting. Turn it on. The water heater will run occasionally but not nearly as often as it does normally.
  4. Toilets can collect bacteria, which can cause stains. Pour a half cup of chlorine into the bowl (not the tank).
  5. A continually dark house, both inside and out, can be a signal to a burglar that no one is home. Turn off all lights except the ones you want as security measures. Put the security lights on variable timers
  6. Make sure to hide the keys to the garage in a safe and not visible place and to lock the door that leads to the garage. Do not leave any spare keys for the car in the house in case the car is parked in the garage.
  7. Make sure the fridge is empty or at least that the food left in there will still be good after the holidays.
  8. Turn all ringers off and the answering machine muted.
  9. This is the perfect time to spray the house for pest control.
  10. You have done a great job! Bravo! Now go and have fun!

Central Bank publishes findings on Household Property Claims in Ireland

At the end of October 2013 the Central bank of Ireland published a report with findings of a themed inspection into household property claims resulting from water damage.Given the increased frequency of floods in recent years the Central bank considered it important to make an inspection of the compliance with the Consumer Protection Code (the Code) between 1 July and 31 December 2012 in 10 of Ireland’s largest non-life insurer’s (approximately 90% of the Irish property insurance market).

With regard to this inspection the Director of Consumer Protection, Bernard Sheridan  said that the  Central Bank expects all regulated insurers to work in the consumer’s best interest by selling suitable insurance policies, providing clear information and handling claims properly when they arise, directly or through a third party such as a loss adjuster. He expressed concern by the findings of this inspection which show a lack of transparency around the claims retention policy and policy terms that consumers need to be aware of at time of purchase and when making a claim.   The Central bank considers that policy booklets contained a number of terms and conditions which may not be fair or transparent to consumers.”Consumers can often feel vulnerable when they experience damage to their home and that it is important that firms deal with their claims in a prompt and fair way.  ”  said also Mr. Sheridan.

One of the most important findings from the review were that most common reasons for insurers declining claims were either no insured peril or wear and tear that had occurred to their property, e.g. the sealant on a shower tray having fractured over time.  It was also noted that many consumers had withdrawn their claim on learning that an excess of up to €1,000 would be deducted from any claim settlement offer, as well as the impact that the loss of no claims bonus would have on future renewal premiums.

The Central Bank also considered that insurers’ policy booklets contained a number of terms and conditions which may not be fair or transparent to consumers, and therefore insurers have been requested to review aspects of their respective policy booklets. Examples of the terms that insurers were asked to review include references to policy excess amounts or administrative fees without actually stating how much these are or where the consumer can find this information and failure to include information about retaining a portion of the settlement until after reinstatement will be a condition of the claims settlement agreement.

A review of insurers’ policy booklets revealed that only one of the insurers clearly describes the practice of retentions in its policy booklet. All of the insurers have a practice whereby a retention amount may be applied to a claim settlement offer and typically the retention withheld would be between 20% and 30% of the settlement amount.  In order for a retention amount to be paid, consumers are required to provide either receipts, invoices or other proof that the repairs have been fully completed.  The Central Bank noted that 23% of the monetary amount of all household property (water damage) claim retentions applied by the 7 inspected insurers during 2012 were never claimed by the consumer.

What Clearys advises you is to always read very well your insurance policy and in case you have any doubts or ambiguity, do not hesitate to contact a loss assessor.

Electricity -the major cause of accidental fires

Government statistics show that electricity causes more than 20,000 fires a year – almost half of all accidental UK house fires. Each year, about 70 people are killed and 350,000 are seriously injured due to an electrical accident in the home. Although many incidents are caused by faulty appliances rather that the electrical installation itself, a properly-installed and well-maintained installation could significantly reduce the possibility of an accident or injury. So, it is important that any electrical installation work is carried out only by people who are competent. This means people who have the knowledge, skills and experience needed to avoid dangers to themselves and others that electricity can create. It’s easy to make an electrical circuit work – it’s far harder to make the circuit work safely.

How old is your wiring?

Electricity is usually out of sight, out of mind because cables are conveniently hidden inside our walls and switches and sockets. So it’s not surprising that we forget to check our electrical installations for wear and tear. Faulty and aging wiring is one of the major causes of electrical fires in the home. You can avoid these by having regular checks carried out on the condition of your cables, switches, sockets and other accessories. There are clear signs that can help you tell the age of electrical installation in your home. These are:

  • Cables coated in black rubber (phased out in the 1960s);
  • Cables coated in lead or fabric (before the1960s);
  • A fusebox with a wooden back, cast iron switches, or a haphazard mixture of fuse boxes (before the 1960s);
  • Older round pin sockets and round light switches, braided flex hanging from ceiling roses, brown and black switches and sockets mounted in skirting boards (before the 1960s); and
  • Wall-mounted light switches in bathrooms (before the 1960s).

9/11, World Trade Center owner versus insurance companies

In 1980, Larry  Silverstein, a successful real –estate businessman from New York,  won a bid from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to construct building 7 of the World Trade Center, to the north of the World Trade Center site. Silverstein  signed the lease on July 24, 2001.

Right after that Silverstein took out insurance plan that “fortuitously” covered terrorism. After 9/11 Silverstein took the insurance company to court, claiming he should be paid double because there were 2 attacks. Swiss Re, Lloyd’s, Zurich Financial, Copenhagen Re, and 8 other major insurers all paid Silverstein Properties a total of $4.9 billion. Silverstein received $861 million from insurers for Building 7 alone, as well as over $4 billion for the rest of the Trade Center complex. That $861 million for WTC-7 was paid on the basis of Silverstein’s claim that airplanes were somehow responsible for making Building 7, which was not hit by any plane, disappear at free-fall acceleration

A year after the attacks Larry Silverstein mentioned in the 2002 PBS documentary “America Rebuilds,”:”I remember getting a call from the fire department, telling me that they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, ‘You know, we’ve had such a terrible loss of life, may be the smartest thing to do is to pull it’ and they made that decision to pull and then we watched the building collapse”. Larry Silverstein admits to the controlled demolition of Building 7.

The insurance companies have likewise neglected to mention that after doubling his insurance coverage immediately before 9/11, Silverstein multiplied his compensation after 9/11 by claiming double indemnity. According to Silverstein’s spokesman, “the two hijacked airliners that struck the 110-story twin towers Sept. 11 were separate ‘occurrences’ for insurance purposes, entitling him to collect twice on $3.6 billion of policies.” The bizarre double-indemnity claim was approved in 2004.

This trial remain one of the many mysteries in the 9/11 case. However In April 2006, after several months of negotiation aiming toward permitting reconstruction of the WTC complex Silverstein cedes his rights to Building One to the Port Authority allocating a portion of the insurance proceeds to the rebuilding of Building One in favor of the Port Authority. In return the US government issues pro-rata shares Liberty Bond funds for reconstruction of the site, part of which are allocated to Silverstein Properties for purposes of rebuilding the remaining buildings. Hence the costs to rebuild were partially covered by the Liberty Bonds and the construction of the new 7 WTC which began in May 2002 ended in 2006.

HELP!! I am a victim of a burglary! What to do now?

According to a survey of the national crime league, published in the Irish Examiner, each 19 minutes a burglary is committed in Ireland where the average value of goods stolen is 1,868 Euros. The Central Statistics Office indicates that there were a total of 28,706 burglaries or burglary-related offences in 2012 – an increase of 7.9 per cent on the previous year. These figures could be worrying for many homeowners, as a burglary can be costly, frightening and deeply upsetting.

We have prepared an emergency list of 10 steps to follow if you are a victim of burglary. They’ll help keep you and your family safe, while giving you the very best chance of making a successful insurance claim.

10-point burglary checklist:

  1. If you find that your home has been burgled, it’s important to call the Police straightaway.
  2. If you suspect that the burglar may still be inside your property, call the Police from a mobile or from a neighbour’s phone.
  3. Don’t start to clean up or move anything until the Police have had chance to inspect the scene, or you could be damaging vital evidence. They are likely to send specialist officers who will take a statement from you, as well as photographs and fingerprints.
  4. Ask for the reference number of the crime, you might need it later when filling in documentation .
  5. If your bank or credit cards have been taken, call their emergency number and have them stopped. These services are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so don’t delay. If any important documents are missing, such as your passport, report that too.
  6. Contact an insurance Loss Assessor, like Clearys Loss Assessors. This is the best way of ensuring you receive a full and fair settlement from your insurers.
  7. As their first priority, your loss assessor will send out approved contractors and locksmiths to secure your property. They will board up any broken windows and replace any damaged locks. They are your friends and will help you deal with the stressful situation.
  8. Check your home for damage and start to make a list of items that are missing. If possible include model and serial numbers, as well as any purchase receipts you have. Give this list to your loss assessor, who will assist you in preparing an inventory of all lost and damaged items for presentation to your insurers.
  9. Your loss assessor will then contact your insurance company on your behalf, making them aware of the burglary and giving them your crime number and inventory. They will then act on your behalf throughout your burglary insurance claim.
  10. Once the Police have concluded their enquiries, it’s worth reviewing the security of your home. If you don’t already have them, fit locks to your windows and security bolts to your doors. You might also consider installing a burglar alarm.