Tag: deductible

A week of hurricane preparation: Crucial steps to take

Hurricanes are a risk that all southern and eastern coastal communities are in danger of. The storms can form and can strengthen rapidly leaving little time for proper preparation. This list details things you can do within a week to help get your family and your home ready for the impact.



  • Pull out your insurance documents. Make note of your coverage limits and your deductibles. Consider how much you’d need to cover the cost to replace your home’s structure, your personal belongings and your automobile. Call your agent(s) to confirm that you understand everything correctly.
  • Make a video inventory of your entire house including inside drawers, closets, etc. For higher priced and valuable items make sure to get the make/model, serial number and any other information that would be required to prove the value. Upload the video(s) to the cloud.

Extra Tip: Anyone with a child renting their own place should make sure that they have an active renter’s insurance policy and that they follow these same steps.

  • Much like an emergency kit but not in place of, pack everyone in your household a bag or suitcase with everything they would need for 2-3 days such as outfits, chargers, weather gear, etc. Critical medicine, food and water should be in every bag in case one gets lost. Don’t forget to pack one for your animals!
  • Make sure everyone has a phone list of emergency contacts (at least each other, a local contact and a contact that is out of the area). These should be programmed into phones and a printed copy should be in every bag with instructions on where to go if you get split up. You should have a safe place planned locally and another safe place to meet should you have to evacuate.

Extra Tip: When cell service is bad a text message may go through when a phone call won’t. Plan basic, short text messages to be shared among your emergency contacts such as “Safe. At Mimi’s”.

  • Take any movable items outside your home and move them inside. For items that are too heavy or large to move in, use cables or chains to secure them down so they can’t be blown around.
  • Consider purchasing a heavy-duty gasoline container to be filled and stored it in a cool, well-ventilated area. You don’t want to wait for an evacuation order to start running vehicles and gas cans to the station. Not only could the station run out of fuel before you get there, waiting would take precious time from other preparations and delay your departure.
  • Prepare to board up. Measure all window and glass door openings (include the framing). Purchase plywood pieces and pre-cut them to fit your measurements. Some lumber stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s may even have a panel saw and can cut them for you. Grab a box of screws and a drill if you don’t have one.

Extra Tip: Consider purchasing a generator. If you do purchase one, first test all your carbon monoxide detectors, then pick a safe place that you’ll be able to run it. The running place should be outside in a well ventilated are (no garages or basements!), that is dry and where you can quickly connect to it. Watch this video by Lowe’s for some other important generator tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaLamTvTQc0
Questions? Concerns? Recommendations? Give us a call or send us an e-mail. We’re happy to help!

Cleaning up after Cape Cod’s tornadoes

South Dennis, MA Tornado Weather 7/23/19

When you think of Cape Cod, Massachusetts what sort of weather dangers come to mind? Hurricanes and Nor’easters are common answers, but “tornado” isn’t common at all. Seeing the aftermath of this week’s high grade EF1s that impacted Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich, Chatham and surrounding areas, that may change. Although Cape Cod wasn’t specifically prepared for the sudden impact of the rare weather event, the response of the towns and first responders was fantastic and thankfully no serious injuries have been reported.

Once the storm had passed the sun came out for a moment allowing us a quick peek of blue sky. Although that tempted people to want to walk about and survey the aftereffects, local authorities urged everyone to stay inside. The hours after a natural disaster are the most crucial for restoration efforts. Immediate dangers need to be assessed, unsafe/impassible roads need to be blocked off and detour points need to be established, medial emergency responders need to be able to safely navigate the labyrinth of streets, utility emergency responders need the limited routes as clear as possible as they work to assess services, and as the tree blockades are found they need to be accessed quickly by fellers (because no one in need of an ambulance wants them stuck in a labyrinth of downed trees!). In addition to all that, downed wires are deadly and until they’ve been identified and secured it’s simply not safe.

Cape Cod Tornado Damage Willow Tree Uproots in Brewster, MA

With any natural disaster first you assess and secure, then clean-up and restore. Any serious wind event brings a surge of calls to professional restoration companies from property owners who’ve had trees fall on their home or business. The first thing to do is remove the tree from the structure. Once that is safely done and the tree is on the ground it’s important to immediately board-up any openings it created. After the property has been secured then it’s time to assess the interior damage.

When it comes to insurance coverage this is where things can vary significantly from owner to owner. The deductible on a policy is the portion you are personally responsible for paying out of pocket on a claim. Some policies have a special wind deductible that is different than the standard policy deductible (and often quite larger). If you have a wind deductible on your policy and the wind of the storm toppled a tree on your home then that’s the deductible you’ll be looking at paying with your claim. Other policies may narrow the criteria of the special deductible to hurricanes and named storms, not all wind events. An interesting exclusion we’ve run into on some calls is that although some insurance companies may include the cost to remove the tree from the structure in the claim, removing the tree from the property may not be included and then it’s up to the homeowner to get it chopped up and moved away (or stacked to season for cozy winter fires). These variables and this week’s storm are reasons why our monthly maintenance checklist schedule has you review the different deductibles of your policies with your agent at least once a year.

Cape Cod Tornado Wind downs Brewster Tree at Farm

The support and acts of kindness seen and heard around the community have our hearts overflowing. Let’s keep that strength showing. If you see a first responder, thank them. If you’re still without power, be patient. Crews are still working around the clock to get you back up and running. A smile and snack will help them do that more than any complaint ever will. If you’ve offered a helping hand, even something as simple as checking in on your elderly or ill neighbors, thank you!

Have any questions about emergency board-up services or natural disaster response? Send us a message or give us a call! Sharing and supporting the #CapeStrong spirit? Show us on Facebook or Twitter! @whalenrestoration @whalenservices

Dealing with Ice Dams

It’s still winter and we have the snowy forecasts to prove it. Snow and fluctuating temperatures create the recipe for ice dam formation. What exactly is it that causes them? Well, if there is snow on your roof and you have a “heat leak” (a spot where there’s not enough insulation and the heat from the house is escaping), the heat will actually start to melt the snow around it. The water will run down the roof, but with the low temperatures it will then refreeze forming an ice dam. The more snow that melts, the more water that runs, the bigger the dam gets. Once the temperatures rise and all of the snow starts to melt, water will back up behind the dam and can leak into your home underneath your roof shingles. We still have plenty of winter left to add to this potential recipe for disaster, but you can avoid the costly damage that can become of this mix by monitoring two simple things. Ice dam formation and clear drainage paths.

Snow on Roof

You’ve probably heard about ice dams in the news, especially in winter of 2015, but like many other common property dangers you may not be aware of the actual danger they may pose to your home. Reconsider the “it won’t happen to me” idea and do the following to protect your investment.

  • Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear of ice and debris. Regardless of the formation of ice dams or not, the snow is eventually going to melt and the water will have to be directed away from the house. If you’re already following our monthly maintenance to do lists, you’ve already made sure that the spouts are directing water at least 3′ away from your foundation.
  • Clear your roof of the snow and ice. You probably don’t even know that you have a heat leak in your roof until you see the ice dam form. You’ll have to address the insulation later, but first things first, remove the dam that has already formed. Although the safest option is to hire a snow removal professional, you can (carefully) remove it yourself by using a roof rake, not a shovel, to push the snow off without damaging your shingles. Don’t stand underneath where any icicles or dams may fall, avoid contact with your electrical wires, and make sure someone else is around just in case you need some help.
  • Melt a channel to direct the water. Another option for existing dams is to create drainage paths in the ice for when they start to melt. Fill a large sock with a melting agent such as calcium chloride and place it directly on the dam perpendicular to your gutter. The purpose of the sock is to control the release of the melting agent, and by laying the sock perpendicular to the gutter you’ll create a channel in the ice for the water to eventually drain through. If the dam runs the length of your roof, you’ll want to put several socks up there.

What if the ice dam and snow build up has already started a leak inside the house?

  • Mop up the standing water.
  • Put a bucket under the drip to collect any additional water.
  • Move your stuff away from the area to prevent it from also getting wet.
  • Call a professional to deal with the snow and ice dam.
  • Call a water mitigation professional to deal with the interior damage and drying. Even a small leak can make it’s way through several layers of your home, and everything will need to be completely dried to avoid mold growth.
  • Call your insurance agent or your insurance company to see if the damage will be covered under your policy. Find out what you’ll owe out of pocket for your deductible.

So, if you notice an ice dam forming on your roof, remove the snow and ice as soon as safely possible. If you can’t rake the dam off, create a channel for the water run trough it with a controlled melting agent. Take a picture and note where the dam formed, then address the insulation in that area to make sure it doesn’t form again.

Questions or concerns about any of these details and tips? Send us an e-mail! We’d love to hear from you!

Homeowner’s Insurance: Get personal with your policy

You buy a house and take out a standard insurance policy on it. You pay your premiums and renew every year. All seems sound and simple until a storm comes and your house is flooded. All of a sudden you are told that you don’t have flood insurance and that nothing it covered. Don’t let yourself wind up in this situation. Don’t just renew your policy every year but reintroduce yourself and get to know it.


The first item I need to urge you on is to make sure your policy is renewed on time! Write it on your calendar, program it into your phone, and make a big mental note. Usually policies are written yearly. In our industry we witness losses denied too often because of a lapse in coverage. The loss just so happened to occur in the month that sat between expiration and renewal. If that’s the case, you are unfortunately on your own to cover the expenses. I’m not saying don’t trust your agent to properly renew it for you, but I am holding you accountable for making sure it is done. You should obtain an updated copy of your policy once it is renewed.

Educate yourself on the amount of coverage you have. Is your dwelling (structural) coverage sufficient to support a major disaster? Consult a local building contractor if you would like a second opinion on just how much you should allot for, keeping in mind any changes you may make to the property. Do you have a separate flood policy? Flood coverage is not included in basic homeowner’s policies. What other events are excluded from your basic coverage? What is your standard deductible? What is your wind deductible? Are you subject to a specific hurricane deductible? Some deductibles can be very different than you standard deductible. Verify what exact perils the policy does and does not cover.

That covers mostly the house’s well being, but what about your personal property? Coverage for your contents is based on a percentage of your dwelling coverage. You may want to take out additional contents insurance for your antiques, guns, computers, silver, etc. This is where an inventory list comes in handy. If you take the time to inventory your belongings, say during your seasonal cleaning, you can bring that with you when reviewing the policy with your agent. An inventory would also come in handy if you were to suffer a major loss such as a fire. You’ll need an itemized contents list to submit to your insurance in order receive your contents limit.

What responsibilities do you need to uphold under this coverage? Keep inflation in mind. As property values rise, usually building costs do too. You must insure your home up to a certain percentage of the cost to replace it which will be set by your insurance company. Say this requirement is 80% (and just for this example you have no deductible – not typical I know): If it would cost $300,000 to replace your home and you have $180,000 (75% of the required amount) as your dwelling limit, your insurance company may only cover 75% of your loss. If you have $75,000 worth of damage, you could be responsible for paying $18,750 out-of-pocket!

Responsibilities also include proper maintenance. If you have a second home here on Cape Cod and you don’t refill the oil to keep the heat up during the freezing months, a pipe might freeze, break and flood your house. Since you neglected to keep the oil tank full and properly care for the property your insurance company may not cover the repairs. Seasonal maintenance checklists aren’t always just great suggestions or ploys for you to spend more at your local hardware store. You really should clean those gutters! Your coverage just might depend on it.

Talk with your agent about what happens if you do experience a loss. Ask them how much additional living expenses you are covered for if you lose the use of your home. Make sure it’s enough for you and your family. Don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with your insurance agent to review your policy at any time. They are your agent! It is part of their job to translate your policy details for you and make suggestions.

That may be a lot of information to take, in so here is a recap:

  • Always make sure your insurance policy is renewed on time and that you receive a copy
  • Make sure you have the proper amount of dwelling coverage not only so that you have enough to cover the cost of repair, but also to meet your insurance requirements.
  • Get to know the different deductibles you may be subject to and in what instances you will encounter them.
  • Look into possibly needing additional policies such as Flood insurance
  • Make & update your contents inventory!
  • Know your responsibilities required by your policy to keep coverage. Spring cleaning anyone?
  • Check on the living expenses you’ll be granted if you lose the use of your home to damage.
  • But all and all: Know your policy – talk with your agent!