Miami Property Owners: Know the Difference Between Flood and Homeowners Insurance
Water that rolls into a property from the outside ground may not constitute a covered event by homeowners insurance.
Pretty much everyone we meet in Miami, Miami Beach and Surfside gets confused about one topic in particular: the differences between flood insurance and homeowners insurance.
The differences are substantial, and most definitely worth reviewing. Our first piece of advice is to consult with your insurance agent to understand the differences in your policies, so you know what covers what ... and what might NOT be covered.
Typically, flood insurance pays for damages caused by the rising of a body of water that covers normally dry land. For example, if heavy rains cause a river to overflow and the waters from this river rise up and enter your property from the ground, this would be a "flood" and you would likely tap your flood insurance policy for coverage; homeowners insurance would not apply. On the other hand, if a toilet supply line burst in your property and spread water into your home, the opposite would be true.
These distinctions are critical for many reasons. Chief among them is the fact that many people think they are covered for both types of losses by having one type of policy, alone. This can be a costly mistake! Among the other important distinctions: In our experience at SERVPRO of Miami Beach, flood,insurance policies tend to be far less forgiving. The flood insurance programs tend to not cover many necessary elem to of a cleanup bill, and a property owner can end up being responsible for a larger portion of a cleanup bill compared to a standard homeowner loss.
These distinctions are increasingly important especially for property owners and property managers on coastal areas such as Miami Beach and Surfside, which are seeing higher incidences of flood losses.
Apologies for the cliche, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Being educated on these important distinctions is the first step toward securing that ounce of prevention.
Clean Your Dryer Vents to Prevent Fire in Miami Beach
Clothes dryer vents can build up lint over time, restricting air flow and posing a threat of fire. This type of fire is totally preventable.
One of the most common causes of fires is also perhaps the most preventable.
Dryer vents connect from your clothes dryer, and can build up lint. If not cleaned out properly, the air cannot flow properly, and a fire can result. This type of fire happens most frequently in homes, posing dangers to adults and children.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year. These fires cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. The U.S. Fire Administration also reports that the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires is failure to clean them (34 percent).
Apart from cleaning your dryer vent, the U.S. Fire Administration has suggestions to enhance safety when using your clothes dryer:
- Don’t use a clothes dryer without a lint filter or with a lint filter that is loose, damaged or clogged.
- Don’t overload the dryer.
- Don’t use a wire screen or cloth to cover the wall damper. They can collect lint and clog the dryer vent.
- Don’t dry anything containing foam, rubber or plastic. An example of an item not to place in a dryer is a bathroom rug with a rubber backing.
- Don’t dry any item for which manufacturers' instructions state “dry away from heat.”
- Don’t dry glass fiber materials (unless manufacturers' instructions allow).
- Don’t dry items that have come into contact with anything flammable like alcohol, cooking oils or gasoline. Dry them outdoors or in a well-ventilated room, away from heat.
- Don’t leave a clothes dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.
SERVPRO Franchises Will Paint Miami Beach Green in the Event of Major Storm
Hurricane Andrew was a major storm that high Miami and Miami Beach in 1992. Much smaller storms could pose problems for property owners in the future.
Miami, Miami Beach and Southeast Florida have been lucky in recent years, avoiding the wrath of hurricanes. However that, of course, hasn't always been the case. Nor will it likely be the case in the future.
Property owners need to be aware of what exactly happens.
Take it from our experience - even lower-category hurricanes could devastate the area, and professional help might not be available.
Truth be told, every local firm like ours will be at capacity within minutes of the arrival of a major storm. There will be enough work to go around for weeks. This is exactly what happened in 2014, during a devastating cold freeze in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. Homes up there flooded due to pipe breakages -- property owners called local providers for up to a week, with no response for service because all providers were at capacity.
Problem is, your property needs help now. That's where SERVPRO'S national "Storm Team" resources come into play. SERVPRO has 1,700 franchises across the country -- many of them will send trained technicians and equipment to the area to service the excess demand. There is no other restoration company that can provide this depth of service. All you need to do is call us at SERVPRO of Miami Beach, (305) 532-5411, and your job will be put on a queue. If we are at capacity, your loss will be handled by one of the storm team crews who arrived here from Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama or Tennessee.
We've provided assistance to those states in the past, and were able to help people at a time of need. We know our brothers and sisters in those areas will be just as glad to give a helping hand when local resources are tapped out following a major storm.
Miami Beach Be Ready: Above-Average Storm Activity Predicted in '17
Hurricane Matthew was supposed to hit Miami Beach and Miami. However it veered off course, and made landfall further north in 2016.
Hurricane Matthew was supposed to hit us in the Miami and Miami Beach areas in 2016. But once again we threaded the needle, avoiding complications.
Only time will tell how Miami and Miami Beach will fare in 2017. But nationally, forecasters predict a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, forecasters are predicting a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
Already there has been a storm -- before the 2017 season began on June 1. It was named Tropical Storm Arlene, a rare pre-season storm that formed over the eastern Atlantic in April.
Commercial property owners are urged to call us at SERVPRO of Miami Beach for help with readiness -- already SERVPROs across the country have produced tens of thousands of "Emergency Ready Plans," which is a helpful tool to guide property managers at a time of disaster. Just give us a call at (305) 532-5411 to inquire about this complimentary service.
Hopefully we're not going to need the preparation in 2017 here in Miami and Miami Beach. But we'll be glad we have it in the event of a storm!
Miami Property Owner Fire Victims: Act Fast to Mitigate
Even after the flames are long gone, fire damages can pose health risks in the form of airborne contaminants. Clean up quickly and thoroughly.
One of the most important considerations is to act fast if your Miami / Miami Beach property has experienced a fire. Don't just take our word for it -- take it from the IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification), the leading non-profit organization setting standards on the topic. According to the IICRC:
If a house sustains fire damage, proper cleanup is crucial as the ash, soot and water will wreak havoc on what remains. It’s bad enough there was a fire, but the water and chemicals used to extinguish it can cause secondary damage. The remnants will continue to do damage long after the flames are extinguished.
The average person will attempt conventional cleaning methods like renting a steam cleaner and using common cleaning agents available at the store. Unfortunately, this will barely make an impact on the problem and could cause bigger issues. Chemical agents could react with the residue and cause permanent damage, and in some cases, they may cause toxic fumes. Fire damage cleanup is one of the most difficult jobs out there, and it should be left to a professional for the best results.
When selecting a firm that does the restoration, consider what type of training they have. Do they have health and safety certifications? Are they experienced in a wide range of repair? Do they have proof of proper insurance and licenses? The company that has the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) fire and smoke restoration Certified Firm meets all of these expectations and conditions. An IICRC-certified firm understands the need for a quick response. Immediate action is necessary because the longer the delay, the harder and more costly the job will be as reactions within the damaged material can continue to occur. The fire may be gone, but the ash, soot and smoke odors that remain can continue to do harm. Certified firms will use their knowledge of fire restoration to accurately test the damage and apply the proper repair techniques to bring the items back to preloss condition when possible.
Also, when hiring an IICRC certified firm you can be sure that they are up to date with the latest technologies and techniques. In order for these firms to keep their certification, they are required to take continuing education programs. So when confronted with fire damage cleanup, choose an IICRC-certified professional.
If you've had a smoke or fire damage, call us for a free consultation at SERVPRO of Miami Beach (305) 532-5411.
Time and Material Pricing - Commercial Jobs in Miami and Miami Beach
SERVPRO of Miami Beach workers gathered in the night-time hours to clean up at a fire-damage facility in Miami-Dade County in 2017.
What a mess.
Your commercial property has just been hit by a disaster. A broken sprinkler line. A busted AC hose. Or a fire, which is usually a double-whammy -- smoke damage compounded by water damage from the fire/water suppression systems. The latter scenario could become a triple whammy - it could quickly turn into a mold problem if you don't mitigate the damage. Now.
The time for decisions is now. Waiting could lead to further secondary damages, and costly downtime for your business. You know you have to clean it up, but the task is way too large. You are scared to know which contractor to hire to do the job. You're vulnerable, exposed, and at the possibly at the mercy of a price-gouging restoration contractor looking to make its year from your loss. We've heard it all a million times.
How to make some order out of this chaos? First things first -- take some solace in the thought that you don't have to get gouged. Choose a restoration contractor that has an established, juried price list that has been tried and tested on many large-scale losses. At SERVPRO of Miami Beach, we call this the SERVPRO "Time and Material" price list. This is a published, oft-tested price list for labor rates, consumable materials and equipment rentals. It has been on losses ranging from ten of thousands of dollars to tens of millions of dollars.
The principal benefit is that the price list is known and approved in the marketplace. Most likely, if your commercial property is insured by an insurance carrier who's been around the block, they probably have encountered the same price list on previous losses at other businesses. They'll know that the prices on this list are fair, standard and customary. They've probably paid on on losses billed from this price list before. They'll take comfort that SERVPRO is on the job because they aren't going to have to delay work to negotiate prices for the job. They know workers will be able to get right to the job, to minimize business interruption and minimize secondary damage caused by delays.
We're not kidding anyone. It's a traumatic situation. Disasters such as fires and water damage can push a business to the brink. But having an established pricing system that is tested in the marketplace can take much of the worry out of the restoration efforts.
If you would like to see our standard "time and material" price list for commercial losses,
Preventing Fires in Miami and Miami Beach
Educate kids about the dangers of fire . . . and steps to take on how to prevent fires! This Miami Beach child is ready to be a Fire Prevention Hero!
The statistics on fires in the U.S. are staggering.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (click here) there were 1,345,500 fires reported in the United States in 2015.
These fires caused 3,280 civilian deaths, 15,700 civilian injuries, and $14.3 billion in property damage.
- 501,500 were structure fires, causing 2,685 civilian deaths, 13,000 civilian injuries, and $10.3 billion in property damage.
- 204,500 were vehicle fires, causing 500 civilian fire deaths, 1,875 civilian fire injuries, and $1.8 billion in property damage.
- 639,500 were outside and other fires, causing 95 civilian fire deaths, 825 civilian fire injuries, and $252 million in property damage.
The 2015 U.S. fire loss clock a fire department responded to a fire every 23 seconds. One structure fire was reported every 63 seconds.
- One home structure fire was reported every 86 seconds.
- One civilian fire injury was reported every 34 minutes.
- One civilian fire death occurred every 2 hours and 40 minutes.
- One outside and other fire was reported every 52 seconds.
- One highway vehicle fire was reported every 3 minutes 1 seconds.
The focus has to be on prevention.
Here are a few tips to prevent a fire at your Miami Beach / Miami / Surfside home or business. These are courtesy of the American Red Cross (click here):
- Believe it or not, many people in Miami and Miami Beach use space heaters! Many times this is done in a commercial settings -- workers are frequently in offices with very cool air conditioning, and can't take it. Make sure to keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
- Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
- Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside every sleeping area. Also, install a carbon monoxide alarm in a central location outside each separate sleeping area.
- Check electrical wiring in your home.
- Avoid overloading outlets or extension cords.
- Make sure wiring is not under rugs, attached by nails, or in high traffic areas.
Simple steps can go a long way to protect all of us in Miami and Miami Beach. Let's join the fight together!
An Anniversary to Remember - Adrienne Arsht Center in Downtown Miami, Extreme Water Damage
The Ziff Opera House in downtown Miami suffered millions of dollars worth of damage in May, 2012, resulting from drainage system problems.
A local blogger once joked that rain made an appearance inside the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami five years ago this week, on May 20, 2012.
But to many Miami-Dade concert-goers and taxpapers, the circumstance was no laughing matter.
Rain came pouring into the concert hall that night during a weekend performance of the Lion King, a much-anticipated and high-profile presentation. Lots of water. And the facility was packed at the time, with guests who had purchased tickets long before the event.
First, the bad news. Managers realized there was just too much water coming in. That night's show could not go on. About 5 minutes into the second act, managers decided staff would have to evacuate some 2,000 guests out of the building and into the rainy Miami night. Looking at the video provides a stark reminder of just how bad it got: click here.
Now the good news. After that night of the initial water damage, not a single subsequent performance of Lion King was missed. SERVPRO technicians amassed local and national resources to handle the massive and time-sensitive job -- behind the scenes, and without a glitch. Each day, SERVPRO technicians took down drying equipment prior to each performance, allowing show-goers to see the Lion King; then they returned around midnight each night in a massive effort to set drying equipment back up again. This went on throughout the run. The end result: Thousands of Miami-Dade residents were able to take advantage of the tickets they had bought weeks and months earlier to see this highly anticipated show.
Here are some video entries reminding us of that event:
CBS 4 - Recap of the Flood
NBC6 - Miami - Water Pouring From Ceiling
ABC 10 - Arsht - Summary of Repairs and Costs
Important Considerations After a Fire
If you're seeing discoloration on the building materials, you're likely breathing contaminated air. Use proper respiratory protection.
Safety is always the first thing to keep in mind after experiencing a house fire. Remember, you’ve probably never been through this before – you probably don’t know what you don’t know. We at SERVPRO of Miami Beach encourage you to take the safe approach and be as cautious as possible.
- Air quality can be a major concern for occupants. It is likely that materials caught fire and debris were sent airborne. These could be toxigenic. Without proper respiratory protection you will be consuming these items.
- Electrical and "slip and fall" hazards are some of the most prevalent concerns.
- Use the buddy system. Only do activities that are safe for you to perform.
- Lift wet mateials with your knees/legs – not your back. Wet materials can be VERY heavy. Be careful!
What To Do After A Fire
- Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets.
- Keep hands clean so as not to further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
- Place clean towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas.
- If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator and prop doors open.
- Clean and protect chrome with light coating of petroleum jelly or oil.
- Wash houseplants on both sides of leaves.
- Change HVAC filter.
- Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers.
What NOT To Do After A Fire
- Don't attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces or shampoo carpet or upholstery without contacting us.
- Don't attempt to clean any electrical appliances that may have been close to fire, heat or water without consulting an authorized repair service.
- Don't use any canned or packaged food or beverages that may have been stored near the fire, heat or water.
- Don't turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. The wiring may be damaged.
- Don't send garments to an ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set smoke odor.
How Do You Know the Mold is Remediated (Cleaned)?
People understandably want assurances that their mold problem truly has been fixed after a remediation.
We always tell our customers the same thing: Don't rely on us to give you verification that the property is at "normal fungal ecology" (that's the correct phrase for what we're trying to achieve on a mold remediation). We tell our customers to bring in an independent, objective outsider called a "Mold Assessor." These Florida-licensed professionals are objective, and represent you. If they see something wrong with the job performed, they will let you know. They are not beholden to the remediator, so you'll get good honest feedback.
We always recommend that a property owner bring in a licensed, independent assessor to review the job.
How do they know if a job is ready for "clearance"? What constitutes a passing clearance review?
One assessor we met on a job recently describes it as follows:
"A satisfactory mold clearance inspection consists of satisfactory visual observations that suspected visible microbial growth is not present inside the subject property, no active source of moisture is identified, and air sample results are positively evaluated by comparing the total indoor counts with the exterior or reference counts and then comparing the species types (genus) of microbial spores identified inside versus outside. Additionally, interior total levels, as well as any one or more interior individual genera should be the same or lower than exterior levels, and the types of spores identified indoors should be similar in nature to the types of spores found outdoors."
Mold assessors are licensed to do what they do. We suggest contracting one when completing a mold remediation project!