Pounding Tri-State Has Taken This Winter Has Kept Adjusters, Cleaning Companies Busy

NORTH WOODMERE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Homeowners across the area have been dealing with serious damage from the deep freeze.

CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff spoke to some experts on Monday about what’s covered by insurance, and what’s not.

The bitter cold weather that has hammered the Tri-State Area for weeks has been keeping some people very busy, especially in the insurance and home repair field.

Cliff Becker returned from a Florida vacation to find a mess.

“(It was) a total disaster. Water is pouring out of that ceiling. The carpets are all soaked, water is dripping on the walls,” Becker said.

The heat in his North Woodmere home was inexplicably shut off, resulting in burst pipes and cracked radiators in every room. On Monday, a flurry of crews salvaged what they could.

Insurance adjusters and restoration and cleaning companies said they’ve been swamped.

“We’ve been working 16-18-hour work days every day since I think last Monday. This is actually not a large loss. This is a normal loss,” said Tom Modafferi of Flag Enterprises Restoration.

Insurance experts say to take steps to ensure your insured. First, notify your carrier.

Photograph and inventory what has been damaged. Don’t throw anything out until an adjuster arrives. A-Plus Public Adjusters says it’s also the homeowner’s responsibility to act quickly.

“Make sure that it doesn’t get any worse, the situation, and the best of their ability,’ said consultant Simmy Thall of A-Plus Public Adjusters.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, standard homeowners’ policies cover damage by wind, snow and severe cold and freezing rain. But a homeowner must take reasonable care to prevent damage.

If your thermostat is set below 55 degrees, your claim may be denied. Damage must be sudden and accidental. If you saw it coming and didn’t make repairs, that could also void coverage, Gusoff reported.

Attorney Ronald Rosenberg told Gusoff it doesn’t always pay to file a claim, adding it’s better to save insurance claims for big losses.

“Even though the insurance companies really shouldn’t take it into consideration, your claim history can be used as a means to increase the insurance premiums that are charged,” Rosenberg said.

Your claims are kept in a data base accessible to insurance companies and potential homebuyers, Gusoff reported.

Homeowners are not required to turn over their “loss history” to a home buyer, but failing to do so could turn a potential buyer away.