BGS Blog

How to Check Your Property for Damage After a Storm. When a big storm hits in Florida, you hunker down inside, relying on your home to protect you and your family. Once that storm passes, though, it’s time to repay the favor – identifying damage and protecting your home from further issues. The National Storm Damage Center has a number of resources and tips for homeowners. Here are four major things the agency – and we here at Bateman Gordon & Sands recommends you check after a storm:

1. Your roof: If you see holes, split seams or missing shingles on your roof or if you notice leaking inside or out, it’s a goodClick To Read More

 

idea to have a qualified inspector come assess the situation.

2. Your exterior: Siding, brick and stucco are all vulnerable to storm damage. You’ll want to look for cracking, chipping or dings and dents in siding, and for holes in stucco. Look closely and at different times of the day. Some homeowners don’t notice damage until it’s too late to file a claim, and different lighting can reveal damage you didn’t see before.

3. Driveways and walkways: Cracking and splitting can create safety hazards, as well as reduce the lifespan of the concrete.

4. Trees: According to the National Storm Damage Center, fallen trees and limbs cause more than $1 billion in damage annually. Check roofs, vehicles, fences and machinery for fallen limbs that may have caused damage or could pose a risk. Clean up what you safely can and rely on a reputable tree removal service to handle the rest. Depending on the circumstances, your homeowner’s insurance policy may help with tree removal and damage repair costs – if you experience a covered loss, that is.

A few more helpful tips:

• Keep trees well maintained and trimmed. Also notify neighbors if you see any overhanging branches on any of theirs.

• Know your insurance. Take a look at your policy so you know what’s covered, what your limits and deductibles are, etc. This will prevent any surprises during the claims process.

• Take pictures. Photographs can help you show the cause and extent of any storm damage that occurs.

Of course, if you’ve suffered through a major storm, don’t hesitate to call us at Bateman Gordon & Sands at 954-941-0900, or email us at insurance@bgsagency.com, for help with an insurance claim or with finding a professional property inspector.

June 1st was the beginning of hurricane season, and goes until the end of November. Bateman, Gordon & Sands Insurance cares about our clients and our community. It is predicted we will have 11 named storms, 4 of them hurricanes, and 2 of those will be a category 3 or higher. We have found 7 great tips provided by NOAA that we wanted to share with you. These tips will help you get prepared before a storm hits. Click To Read More

 

Determine your risk. Develop an evacuation plan. Assemble disaster supplies. Get an insurance checkup. Strengthen your home. Help your neighbor. Complete your written plan. 

And keep in mind that if a named store is within 1000 miles of Florida, no coverage can be bound.

With the upcoming Hurricane Season, there is a chance that our homes could be damaged. And, although there are an abundant of honest contractors out there, but some are not so honest. And we want to protect you! Your insurance is there to protect you, but some contractors might try to take advantage of your benefits without your knowledge. We want to educate you on a contract called Assignment of Benefits. What is Assignment of Benefits? Click To Read More

AOB is a contract between you and a contractor (like a plumber, roofer, etc.) where you give the contractor control of the claims benefits. The contractor will file the claim, instead of you, for their services. And the insurance company will pay the contractor directly.

Doesn’t sound bad, right? But…

Once you sign an AOB, you lose control of the claim, and the contractor has the control. They can submit any dollar amount to the insurance company. So they can quote you one amount and submit a claim for more – a lot more – and you will not know this. They don’t even have to finish the job, or even finish it to your approval. They can walk off the job and STILL submit a claim for the full amount.

So what are some of the signs to look for?

  • Of course, if they ask you to sign an AOB.
  • You usually have to sign a contract that you are responsible for the policy deductible, and sometimes they will slip in the AOB and not tell you – so read the whole contract.
  • But also look out for if a contractor solicits a job from you that you didn’t even know needed fixing.
  • Also look out for freebees. We all like something for nothing, but that never happens.
  • Keep an eye out for a contractor that can start immediately and/or tells you to delay contacting your insurance company, that they will do that for you, as a courteous or service.

And it doesn’t stop there.

A dishonest contractor with a signed AOB might preform unnecessary repairs just to inflate the claim amount. This could result in your insurance company’s rates increasing on renewals.

If the contractor ends up suing the insurance company for payment, you won’t be a party to the lawsuit but might end up being a witness. According to the Florida Justice Reform Report, Assignment of Benefit lawsuits grew 300% since 2010. And it’s not just Florida. A report for the Office of Insurance Regulation stated that all Homeowner’s insurance rates could increase by 10% a year because of AOB fraud.

If you have any questions, contact Bateman, Gordon & Sands, or visit www.fightfraud.today, for your protection.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness month. The stats are scary! Last year there were over 40 thousand motor-vehicle deaths in the US. Florida ranks 3rd highest in the US for the last 3 years. In 2016, there were over 3 thousand motor-vehicle deaths in Florida, which is a 3% increase from 2015. April is Distracted Driving Awareness month. The stats are scary! Click To Read More

Last year there were over 40 thousand motor-vehicle deaths in the US. Florida ranks 3rd highest in the US for the last 3 years. In 2016, there were over 3 thousand motor-vehicle deaths in Florida, which is a 3% increase from 2015.

According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle department, in 2015, drivers under the age of 30 accounted for more than 12 thousand crashes in Florida due to being distracted. Driver’s aged 20–24 years old made up the highest number of distracted driving crashes, followed closely by 25–29 year olds and 15–19 year olds. Teens make up 4.5 percent of licensed drivers, yet in 2015 they were responsible for 11.7 percent of distracted driving crashes.

But it’s not just teenagers that are driving distracted. It’s also Field Salesman and Service Workers. If you own a business, and your employees drive while talking on the phone, you may be legally liable. To reduce this liability, Employers should talk to their employees, and set a strict Cell Phone Policy. To help start this conversation with your teen or employees, we provided a generic Corporate Cell Phone Policy agreement that employers can hand out to their employees and have them sign the agreement, and provided an agreement both the Teen and Parent can sign. The links are below. Feel free to customize it. We’ve also provided a poster you can print and post at your place of business or home fridge. And both Parents and Employers might want to add Cell Phone Blocking Technology. There are many smart phone apps (many are free) that can disable a phone’s ability to make calls or texts when the vehicle is moving. Advanced apps can also block audio, and can track speeds and sudden stops. A person who is not driving can still use their phone, and 911 is not blocked.

Whether you are a Mom talking to their teenager, or an Employer talking to their Employees, an important talking point is defining “distractive driving”. Distracted Driving is any activity that takes a driver’s attention away. It is also anything that takes your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road. Some causes of distractions are texting, taking on a phone (even through your car’s speakers), eating or drinking, taking to a passenger, grooming (like brushing your hair, putting on makeup, or fixing you tie using a mirror), reading a map, watching a video, and adjusting a radio/CD player/MP3 player.

What happens when you are distracted? When you are distracted from driving, you lose visual attention, manual attention, and cognitive attention. 5 seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. Doesn’t sound too scary until you realize that if you are diving 55mph, you’d cover the length of a football field BLINDFOLDED. That’s scary!

Bateman, Gordon & Sands wants you to be safe on the road! Talk to your kids, your friends, and your co-workers. By taking, we can save lives!

Corporate Cell Phone Policy

Parent-Teen Driving Agreement

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Written By: Maureen Fastige, Business Developer for Bateman, Gordon & Sands. March 2017
Resources: FLHSMV, NHTSA, NOPUS, 2009 VTTI, NSC

The US fire department responds to fires that were started by a christmas tree more than 250 times a year. One-third of these fires are started by electrical failures or malfunctions or some sort of heat induced element. This sounds very scary, but these fires are avoidable by the littlest measures. Christmas time is a happy time, and sometimes we forget the little hazards that are right in front of us. BGS Insurance wants to remind you of just a few things this season. Click To Read More

Here is just a few things to keep an eye out for:

  1. Make sure your tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, such as heat vets, fireplaces or candles.
  2. Make sure the lights on your tree are designed for indoor use.
  3. Make sure your artificial tree is fire-retardant or your real tree is moist.

Bateman, Gordon and Sands care about our clients’ safety and their homes. We hope you all have a safe and fun holiday season!

Employee handbooks should be reviewed and updated at least on an annual basis, and an employer may want to consider reviewing the handbook every six months. The best practice for an employer is to frequently review new case rulings, regulations and trends in the workplace and ensure that the employee handbook is up to date with current law. the Handbook should also be easy to understand by all parties, including Management and the Employee. Click To Read More

If questions arise on the same subject, it might need to be re-worded for all parties to understand the rule and the disciplinary action. An existing employee handbook should be re-read at least every year to ensure the handbook includes all current aspects of the company.

In addition, if there have been any recent discrimination or harassment issues in the employer’s workplace, the relevant section should be reviewed for clarity and possibly updated to include new procedures or requirements.

Bateman, Gordon and Sands Insurance offers help to companies with their employee handbook, as well as other HR relevant issues.