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Last Post 10/25/2016 10:15 PM by  HuskerCat
Fire in CA
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randellmorgan
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10/27/2007 11:00 AM
Who here is leaving for CA for sure?

Stephanie are you preparing for the possibility of leaving or have you already gotten the go ahead?
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cflclaims
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10/27/2007 11:02 AM

These are some great post on fire claims. I started adjusting like so many during the 04 season and got used to knocking simple roof replacement claims with minor water interior damage very quickly. In 2005 I worked my first fire claim. It was a kitchen fire with damage to the cabinets and walls and some appliances. My boss told me to scope it then he would meet me there after. I scoped the kitchen like I normally would cleaned what I could and replaced everything else. The fire was contained to the kitchen only. My boss then showed and looked at my scope notes. He says to me are you ready to learn a lot and we started walking the entire dwelling. First place he took me was to the air handler and we pulled the filter and it was covered in smoke. He said smoke goes everywhere. We then went into all the rooms and wiped the walls and found smoke residue in all the rooms and on all the contents. Needless to say what I thought was a 5-10k loss ended up being over 25k loss. Experience is crutial in fire losses but it doesn`t mean as a newbie you shouldn`t do them but make sure to ask for help if your over  your head. Since this loss I have done several fire losses including total losses and I still learn something new everytime. Even if you get out there and your claim is a smoke claim you still will need to take time and go through every piece of the risk.

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SSADJUSTER-25
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10/27/2007 11:09 AM

Thank you guys...Bob, Steve and Leland...All of your notes are sure to help anyone from beginners to seasoned adjusters!!
I appreciate your time and input on these post!

Good Luck to Everyone

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Ray Hall
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10/27/2007 2:30 PM

This is what CADO is... older adjusters helping out the one,s following in this honorable profession. I may or I may not make this one.

New sharp adjusters can do this work; however get in the day work mode as most work will be on a day rate. Think about completness of your work rather than speed.  You must make an extra attempt for the insured to be confortable with you. Just one phone call will get you replaced.

The restoration cost of the dwelling will take great detail work. But the UPP and the sceduled property will be much more challanging. Whole sets of silver, flatware, crystal, dishes, pot and pans, rugs, art, designer clothes, books, furniture, fixtures. It will not be unusal for the lady of the house to have 200 pair of shoes, $1,500 of makeup in the bathroom etc. Interview the architect, designer, builder, decorator, maid , children (grown) On the guaranteed replacement cost, get the builder under control and work with him.

On the big ticket item, try to deal with the stores direct with the insurance discount, but keep the insured in the loop. Hire some student to draw the shrubs and trees to scale and get bids. If you act as the adjuster who has the whole loss under hand you will not loose it to a PA or an attorney.

The time necessary to place all the contents in each room in the destroyed house will take you and your insured  many hours. Remember every thing in the house is destroyed and you must list the contents of ever drawer, box, closet, pantry, storage room, garage, attic.

The PA's will pick up thier business when the policy holder looses confidence and respect for "their adjuster".

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Leland
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10/27/2007 3:07 PM
thanks for the great posts, I learned some things.

As of this morning, Saturday: 9 fires still burning. Some residents being allowed back in. My son’s football game and daughter’s field trip cancelled. Most Orange County schools have cancelled sports due to air quality.

The fires seem to be in three main areas: Malibu, East Orange County, and East San Diego County.

East Orange County has many small, quaint canyons like Silverado, Modjeska, Trabuco. This is a fairly rural life style tucked away just minutes from the megalopolis. Little cabins and homemade houses, biker hangouts etc. The last time I did a claim there it was a 1930’s weekend cabin that had been added onto 3 times.

Here’s some news links to the papers serving the various areas: (this might be where you get your documentation of evacuation orders being from official “civil authority”


Mandatory evacuation orders were lifted Friday for the communities of Crestline, Valley of Enchantment and Cedar Pines Park following the most devastating week of wildfires in the San Bernardino Mountains since the Old Fire in 2003.

Full article: http://www.sbsun.com/news/ci_7294877

Adjusters helps steer family toward recovery

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/...uster.html

Evacuees struggle to re-enter their neighborhoods



http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/...nform.html


Santiago, Slide fires still worrisome

http://www.latimes.com/news/printed...california

Also try the Orange County Register

http://www.ocregister.com/

I think most of the claims will be in San Diego area, near the Mexico border and north.

I think we might have a lot of smoke claims, maybe more than fires.

As others have mentioned in some great posts, a little bit of smoke can be a big loss.

I would like to mention the line items for sealing for odor control. Out here we normally allow for all kinds of painting of sealer on stud walls, subfloor, crawlspaces, attics etc. It is not unusual to allow for painting all kinds of surfaces that weren’t painted before, to control smoke smell. If one room is smoke damaged, it might make sense top paint the whole attic. Look for smoke coming out of the vents on all four elevations. I just did a duplex where only one side burned. The insured told me there was no damage next door. Upon inspection we discovered smoke stains & soot was coming out of light fixtures, smoke detectors etc.

Sometimes sandblasting is good to remove light char, this costs less that new framing and maybe considered perfectly acceptable structuraly. I can't remember the rule for just how much charring is OK but if someone knows the rule please post it. Also pressure washing will sometimes be good for cleaning stucco.

Also don’t forget to look for all the damage the fire department does. They often do more destruction than the fire itself. I get some claims where the water from the fire hoses does all kinds of damage on properties otherwise unaffected. If they have fire retardant chemicals in the water it seems to be very difficult if not impossible to get out of carpet. Also fire fighters walking through the house means a carpet cleaning. I have one right now where the firefighters walked on the roof and I think it damaged the sheathing just from their weight- the roof is all wavy.
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BobH
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10/27/2007 3:33 PM
Posted By Leland Coontz on 10/27/2007 3:07 PM
Sometimes sandblasting is good to remove light char, this costs less that new framing and maybe considered perfectly acceptable structurally. I can't remember the rule for just how much charring is OK but if someone knows the rule please post it.

Yeah, I have had claims like that - and sometimes it is a blessing to leave the original members in place rather than major surgery. I think you would want to document your file with a call to the building dept that has jurisdiction.

The one I did about 10 years ago OK'ed something like 3/4 of the original dimension of the wood intact, but it's been a while.  I know it sounds really spooky to reduce the amount of structural lumber by even a small amount - but keep in mind that codes allow for drilling up to a certain size hole in structural joist in order to run plumbing etc, and they specify where along the span you are allowed to remove material.  Trusses are different, they already have openings in their "webs" and I don't believe you can drill added holes in a truss.

Speaking of building depts, permits will have to be pulled unless the damage is cosmetic.  If you have no idea what the permit should be and you are putting together a preliminary estimate, you should allow up to 2% of the amount of repair prior to O&P. Some of these fees vary by area, but that is going to put you in the ballpark. A call to your local building dept may give you a more accurate number for your claim.  You may have to pay architect fees depending on the scale of the project.

Bob H
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Leland
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10/27/2007 8:43 PM
I now have 3 claims set up for Sunday appointments. The Sherrifs Dept (858) 565-5200 was able to tell me which roads are closed, and I compared my Thomas Guide with Yahoo Maps and the insured's directions to figure out how to avoid the roads that are still blocked and hopefully not get lost. One of my claims is on a road that is still closed. The wooden street signs are gone. Fires are still burning in some parts.

The electric substation will supposedly not be fixed for months which means generators for living and construction. One of my insureds told me my cell phones won't work in the Jamul area, only AT&T works. Also phone problems because it is so close to Mexico, US phones pick up Mexican signals.

I will let you guys know how it goes and maybe post pictures.
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HuskerCat
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10/28/2007 12:51 AM

Bob & Leland....thanks alot to you two for your input.   First of all to Bob because those are invaluable tips and very well layed out to the new adjusters as well as to us that have handled fire losses.   Your guideline is probably better than I have ever been given in a written form before... even in my staff days.  What you said, is what I would like to have said but probably in less words.  So...  very well done. That said, one has to keep their head about them because the distractions of the emotional insured can easily sway  a closed claim to a problem claim. 

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Nicka0782
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10/28/2007 3:08 AM
Does anyone know which firms are calling for Adjusters? Im a newly Licensed Adjuster and would love to go work. i lived in the LA/SD area for 2 years and i have family in the area.
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BobH
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10/28/2007 12:24 PM
Posted By Mike Kunze on 10/28/2007 12:51 AM

Your guideline is probably better than I have ever been given in a written form before... even in my staff days.

Thanks Mike. I just did some revisions to that write-up on page 6, to include stuff we talked about on earlier pages so it is a more complete checklist.

Bob H
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SSADJUSTER-25
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10/28/2007 1:39 PM

Bob,

 Sorry! Messed up!

 

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SSADJUSTER-25
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10/28/2007 1:42 PM
Posted By Sherry Sims on 10/28/2007 1:39 Pm

Bob,

 

Wow!! I just had to revise my paperwork that I have been keeping on your's, Leland and Steve's logs. Very BIG THANKS again!!!

You guys are making this so much easier for new adjusters and even us old ones.

 

Again, THANKS

 

Posted By Mike Kunze on 10/28/2007 12:51 AM

Your guideline is probably better than I have ever been given in a written form before... even in my staff days.

Thanks Mike. I just did some revisions to that write-up on page 6, to include stuff we talked about on earlier pages so it is a more complete checklist.

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HuskerCat
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10/28/2007 7:59 PM

Many times the degree of heat will compromise the wiring (Romex), and it will be mandatory to replace all of it.  That means ALL of the sheetrock comes down no matter what.  One could try to just pull it where the wiring runs are, but that becomes pretty labor intensive and too much patchwork.  Also saves that headache of the lingering smoke odors. 

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OdieWyatt
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10/28/2007 9:11 PM
Seems like you could just leave the bottom 4 feet and easily fish the outlets, or just do one side of each wall?
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BobH
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10/28/2007 11:00 PM
Posted By Odie Wyatt on 10/28/2007 9:11 PM
Seems like you could just leave the bottom 4 feet and easily fish the outlets, or just do one side of each wall?

Do you mean leave the bottom 4' of drywall?  I suppose you could do that.  or like you said, removing one side of the drywall would expose it fully - and likely be needed anyway if the fire is bad enough to hammer the wiring.

This stuff is easy to decide when a fire is severe - not a lot of head scratching. It's the shades of gray that really make you think.

Bob H
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HuskerCat
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10/29/2007 12:25 AM

Geography really dictates.  You talk about AC airhandlers in the attic, and that is foreign to me.  Same thing with hot water heaters or furnace units in the attic in the South.  Here in the Midwest, the AC's are on a pad in the backyard, the hot water heaters and furnaces are in the basement.  Not having a basement in the Midwest is like not having gravy with your chicken and tators.  Just one more thing to think about when you are out of your element.

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BobH
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10/29/2007 1:00 AM
Posted By Mike Kunze on 10/29/2007 12:25 AM

Geography really dictates.  You talk about AC airhandlers in the attic, and that is foreign to me.
...Here in the Midwest, the AC's are on a pad in the backyard 

Gotcha, people do use different terms. Working a hurricane in Hawaii in '92 was an eye opener for me. 

Here is a quote that describes what I am trying to say:

A traditional home comfort system has two parts: an outdoor unit, such as an air conditioner or heat pump, and an indoor unit.  The air handler is the indoor unit that circulates cool air through your home in the summer and warm air in the winter.

from this site http://www.colemanac.com/homeowners....asp 

I am referring to this thing: 

 

 and here is a description:

You likely have in your home one of two basic air delivery systems, either of which will be necessary to operate a central air conditioner: a furnace or an air handler. A furnace is comprised of a heating device (gas or electric), as well as an air circulating fan. An air handler looks very much like a furnace, but has a circulating fan without heating capability. Additionally, an air handler has an evaporator coil built-in for air conditioning (or heat pump) usage.

From this site: http://www.alpinehomeair.com/AC-choosingcommonconfigurations.cfm 

As they say, the evaporator coil is up there.  I think the part you are referring to out on a slab on the dirt is the condensor unit.   In California we often refer to the blower in the attic as the air handler, even if it is also combined with a gas heater.

Bob H
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HuskerCat
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10/29/2007 1:47 AM

Here in the midwest, 99% of the time nothing is in the attic.  Basements are so common (I know very few people that don't have one)  and you will find the furnace, airhandler, hot water heater, breaker boxes, etc., all in the basement.  The basement is usually the most costly updated part of the home, too.  It is the entertainment center of the upper scale homes, often with a 2nd kitchen, a full bathroom and walk-out to the patio.  Even though we have the world's largest underground aquifer here in Nebraska, basements do prevail when homes are built.  Some folks regret it at some stage, but steps are taken to prevent the inevitable.  I think the Beaver System made a lot of cash putting in their drainage system around Nebr/Iowa/Kansas homes.

That is one of the big things that suprised me on the Katrina & Rita claims... the appliances in the attic.  It just goes to show that you can be a crackerjack adjuster in your own arena (or think you are), and find out different.  But we live & learn, just like anyone who is going to Calif will find out with the various codes/requirements they have to comply with. 

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BobH
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10/29/2007 11:04 AM
Posted By Mike Kunze on 10/29/2007 1:47 AM

That is one of the big things that suprised me on the Katrina & Rita claims... the appliances in the attic

I'm glad you brought this up, because the forced air system is such a big deal in a fire. In Louisiana I saw some in the attic of expensive modern homes, but most of them were oriented vertically on the first story. You open something that looks like the door to a small closet, and there is the forced air system, easy to get to the filter.

Working flood claims in Slidell LA, we often had to replace those as well as the outside condenser unit that sits on a little slab. Here in CA you will find those vertical forced air units on the main floor level, as well as those in the attic. With a small amount of fire damage, the blower that is tucked away in a closet arrangement at the lower level will be less likely to be harmed.

Where I live, the climate is so moderate that many of the homes build before the 1990's do not have air conditioning. But they will have a forced air system for gas heating. The point is, with a fire, you have to look for an AC condenser unit outside, follow the lines going to the evaporator unit inside to the Air Handler. If there is no condenser unit outside, the house doesn't have AC.

Bob H
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Leland
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10/29/2007 11:07 AM
I inspected 3 claims in Jamul. Two told me that they had no damage but turns out they did. One lost fences and had smoke all over the interior. Another had wind damage which I'm not sure if the carrier will consider that a separate cause of loss (Border Patrol notice = civil authority/fire peril for Fair Rental Value, Wind Peril for separate loss to structure?) Two of the claims lost firewood (personal property) which is worth about $300 per cord. I also need to find out if a mobile home with no wheels, on metal stands, connected to AC & power pole is going to be "other structures". Not registered with the DMV. Remember my policies are DP not HO.

I spent the most time at the total loss. Relatives used rakes & hoes to help sift through contents to find personal property.

I saw helicopters still doing water drops and also lots of law enforcement to prevent looting. lots of downed power lines but power was back on in most places. Melted vinyl horse fencing and burned power poles. Some of the power poles are owned by the insureds, supposedly cost $400 each.

Maybe somebody tell me how to post photos here.
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