Thursday, May 31, 2012

Late May Storms to Cost Insurers Up to 7 Billion



    The severe thunderstorms that struck the United States from May 20 to the 27 will result in insured losses to residential, commercial, and industrial properties and their contents, and to automobiles of between $4 billion and $7 billion, according to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide.
“The month of May, normally the most active month for tornadoes, began quietly,” said Dr. Tim Doggett, principal scientist at AIR Worldwide. “For three weeks, only a handful of isolated tornadoes were reported.”  But, Doggett noted, on May 20, severe thunderstorms in eastern Texas and parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma brought high winds, hail, and five reported tornadoes. Over the next seven days, there were more than 150 confirmed tornadoes across the heart of the country, from Lake Superior to central Texas and east through Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and to the East Coast, affecting more than 20 states in all.  Thousands of buildings were damaged, hundreds more were completely destroyed, and more than a thousand people were injured, according to AIR.
None of the elements that gave rise to the outbreak of severe thunderstorms is unusual.
“Large, strong, jet stream disturbances happen occasionally; persistent low pressure frontal systems are common, especially in spring; and the storms that developed occurred where they are expected to occur at this time of year,” Doggett said.
But, he said, what is unusual is for all of the factors that contribute to the development of severe thunderstorms to have aligned themselves so optimally in the same place at an opportune time. “To get optimal intense instability, shear, and lift all in the same place for a long period of time is a relatively rare circumstance,” he said.
     This outbreak of tornadoes coupled with the unusually high number of tornadoes in April has turned what began as an unremarkable year into a year that has so far produced almost twice as many preliminary tornado reports as the average since 2005, and that is on track to rival the very active 2008 season. Doggett said that 2011 will surpass 2008 in terms of insured losses from severe thunderstorm activity. The two major outbreaks of this year—the first in late April, the second in late May—are the costliest on record.
AIR’s insured loss estimates reflect insured physical damage to property (residential, commercial, industrial, auto), both structures and their contents; additional living expenses (ALE) for residential claims; business interruption losses; and effects of demand surge.
They do not reflect non-modeled losses, including loss adjustment expenses.

Damage by State
     According to AIR, Minnesota suffered a moderate amount of significant damage across portions of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, where more than 100 houses and several commercial properties were damaged, and many trees and power lines were knocked down.
      In Kansas, there were damaging winds and hail over much of the state, as well as 14 reported tornado touchdowns on May 21 alone. The city of Reading (population 231) was hardest hit, where 26 homes and ten commercial buildings were destroyed. The state capital, Topeka (population 127, 473 in 2010), suffered brief tornado touchdowns in its south and east sections, and hail as large as baseballs fell in some locations.
      Texas was affected mainly in the north. Severe thunderstorms, funnel clouds, and hail the size of tennis balls bombarded the Dallas and Fort Worth areas through the early evening of May 24th, smashing car windows, and damaging roofs. Eight confirmed tornadoes touched ground in the state, one of them in the town of Denton, about 40 miles north of Dallas and Ft. Worth.
The severe thunderstorms affected Indiana mostly in the southern part of the state. In Bedford, a small town (14,000 population) near Bloomington, several homes were destroyed and much of the town sustained significant damage.
      Missouri was most severely hit. The city of Joplin (population 49,000) lies in the southwestern corner of the state, just a few miles from the Kansas border. In the early evening of May 22nd, an extraordinarily violent tornado—later rated an EF5, the highest possible on the Enhanced Fujita Scale with winds of at least 200 mph—touched down just inside the Missouri border. It cut straight across Joplin, then continued to the east. Several other tornadoes also touched down in Missouri that day.
The tornado left a flattened path through Joplin three-quarters of a mile wide and 14 miles long. In nine minutes, more than 8,000 homes and apartment units, and more than 500 commercial properties were heavily damaged or destroyed. It was the deadliest tornado to hit the United States in more than half a century.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dallas Roofing 1102: Advantages of Ridge Vent In The Dallas/Ft. Worth Hot Summers.

Advantages of Ridge Vent

Roof ridge vents help to effectively prolong and protect a homeowner's roof from common culprits within the home, including moisture and heat. Found on most new homes, roof ridge vents offer a very simple and effective technology that many homeowners are relatively uninformed about. Especially here in Texas, with the HOT summers, finding the proper ventillation is very important!

Outside Air

Homes without roof ridge vents have the issue of an escape route for outside air flowing into the attic. The problem with traditional roofing is that once the outside air goes into the attic, it has no way to escape. Roof ridge-vent allows the outside air that enters to escape out the top of the roof, preventing damage--such as premature aging and cracking--to the attic and roof.


Moisture can be released from many activities that are performed within homes, including running a washer, using a dishwasher or taking a shower. Moisture is one of the leading causes of damage to rafters, shingles, walls and insulation within homes. Roof ridge vents help to release moisture from homes, which is especially useful during the winter when moisture has a greater impact.


With the help of wind, a ventilation system is created in the attic with a roof ridge vent. As wind passes over the roof ridge vent, it draws air out of the attic. Fresh air is then drawn into the underside of the vent, creating a circulation system of fresh air.


Most homeowners prefer the look of roof ridge vents--which are sleek and blend in well with the other shingles--to other forms of ventilation systems, which often consist of large fans, turbines and vents.

Other Systems

Another benefit of roof ridge ventilation systems is that they are effective without being used in combination with other systems. Other types of ventilation systems, such as fans and powered ventilators, can even have an adverse effect when used with roof ridge vents because of airflow issues.

Arlington Wraps Up Tornado Cleanup

    City officials said crews have been working 12-hour shifts, seven days per week since the April 3 tornado hit to remove 35,000 cubic yards of tree limbs and housing debris from the city's southwest side.
"With all the trash and all the limbs and trees down, it's difficult to live and stressful to live," Mayor Robert Cluck said.
Officials estimate it is enough debris to fill 11 Olympic-sized swimming pools or stretch across the country from Key West, Fla., to Seattle.
"I was proud of my crews through the Super Bowl, with all the snow and ice removal, but this was a lot tougher, and they did what needed to be done," said Keith Melton, public works director. "We pulled in crews from our Water Utilities, Parks Departments and Tarrant County. Some of them were doing work totally out of their environment, picking up trash piles and putting it all into bins and they were very happy to do it. All of these employees put their heart into this effort."
The city ended on Thursday brush and debris cleanup from the storm.
The siding on Jordan Jones' home is still peeling off. There are holes in his house, and his roof needs repair. His neighbor's car windows are still shattered, the garage door is boarded up, and the fence has been uprooted.
But things are getting back to normal, he said.
"Wednesday, it was completely torn up over here and then this morning, they moved in with the heavy equipment operation, and they cleaned up north and south and everything and hauled everything away," Jones said.
Arlington has already spent nearly $2 million on the recovery effort, thanks to a disaster declaration that allows the city to immediately spend without waiting on City Council approval.
"We're still going to be OK," Cluck said. "We'll still have surplus at the end of this year, as we have for the last three years."
The surplus will likely come in handy as the city waits to find out whether it qualifies for federal disaster relief assistance. Cluck said he's not overly optimistic because the city likely will not meet the financial threshold it takes to qualify for federal aid despite more than 500 damaged homes.
Melton extended special thanks to Tarrant County Commissioner Andy Nguyen, Republic Services, Barson Utilities and Gra-Tex Utilities for assistance in the cleanup efforts.
The Department of Public Works will resume normal operations Friday. Anyone with additional storm-related debris should to call 817-459-6777.

Monday, May 7, 2012

How to Spot a Storm Chaser in Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex



About Storm Chasers

What is a storm chaser?

Storm chasers are companies that follow severe weather from area to area, completing home repairs (generally roofs and siding) that are damaged by hail and wind. They collect homeowners’ insurance claim checks in payment for their services, complete the work (often shoddily) before moving on to the next storm ravaged area. Here in Dallas, we are prone to hailstorms, and storm chasers generally quickly follow any such event. They generally go door-to-door in storm damaged areas, and may advertise themselves as insurance recovery experts or specialists in insurance restoration. (The term “Storm Chaser” can also be used to describe a person who follows storms in order to research, photograph, or simply experience a weather phenomenon. This type of storm chaser is entirely different and is not of any concern to a homeowner!)

Why are storm chasers bad?

The first step of a storm chaser is to ask the homeowner to sign a contract allowing their company to negotiate with homeowner’s insurance company.  By signing these documents, homeowners may be waiving their right to any decision making regarding their repairs or replacement. They also lose control over the insurance settlement, and the entire check of the payment may legally need to be signed over to the storm chaser- regardless of the quality or quantity of work completed. The homeowner may lose some control over materials used, leaving the storm chaser free to cut corners in order to increase their profit. Most importantly, warranty repairs can be very difficult to obtain as most storm chasers leave the area as soon as the storm “plays out.” These companies are generally gone long before warranty issues arise.  The company is certainly not going to return from Florida or Ohio to repair a problem with their work. To make matters even more difficult, some storm chasers lease local company names so the appear to be local. Once they complete their work in the area, they leave. The local company is then responsible for the warranty work. Of course, the volume of warranty work is often so great the local company ends up out of business, leaving the homeowner with problems.
Storm chasers are also very damaging to the local economy. They deprive local contractors of business and decrease the number of resources you have when your roof suddenly springs a leak.  By employing a local contractor to complete your repairs, you are helping to employee local  workers.

How to spot a storm chaser

Storm chasers usually:

  • Come door to door and try to get you to sign something immediately
  • Use high pressure sales tactics
  • Offer you a “Free Roof” or “Free Siding” or offer a way around paying a deductible (this is insurance fraud!)
  • Have out-of-state license plates or drivers license (and YES! you can & should ask to see a drivers license to verify identity.)
  • Are unable to produce recent, local references (or references from before the storm date)
  • Are unable to produce local supplier references (always check references from a potential contractors’ suppliers. If suppliers aren’t paid in a timely fashion by a contractor, they can legally place a lien on your home)
  • Have no proof of manufacturer certifications (large manufacturers offer their own certifications to established legitimate contractors. Look for GAF-Elk Master Elite Contractors, GAF-Elk Certified Contractors, IKO Shield-Pro Plus, CertainTeed 5-Star Contractors)
  • Are unlisted, have unsatisfactory ratings or have complaints filed against them with the Better Business Bureau.

Plenty of Work for Insurance Adjusters!!

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  Rob and Jenny Morris will repair their burly pickup. The decision wasn't so clear for Bob and June Terry and their two older sedans.
The Morrises of St. Charles and the Terrys of Charlack were among the first to bring badly dimpled vehicles to a State Farm Insurance temporary claim center. After widespread havoc such as the April 28 deluge of hail, insurance companies often set up special shops for policyholders to bring their troubles.
State Farm estimators examined the cracked windshield and deep dents on a 2005 Ram pickup and proposed paying in full for the repairs. That pleased the Morrises. But estimators declared the Terrys' 2001 Impala and 2003 Nissan sedan "totaled," meaning the cost of repairs would exceed the market values of the vehicles.
The Terrys had to decide whether give up their cars or take smaller settlements to repair them. And Bob Terry, coach of a youth baseball team, had a game that afternoon.
"We need the car now," he said, thinking of first pitch. "We'll figure things out later."
So it went Thursday as vehicles rolled into the shop at Interstate 270 and North Lindbergh Boulevard. State Farm has four others on both sides of the Mississippi River. American Family Insurance Co. has established six of them in the metro area.
Policyholders make appointments. Jim Camoriano, State Farm spokesman, estimated its shops will examine at least 700 vehicles daily beginning Monday and stay open for two weeks, maybe more.
Both companies' shops are in the April 28 hail belt, which ran from Lincoln County, Mo., into Washington County, Ill. State Farm already has more than 23,600 vehicle claims in the two states, most of them in the St. Louis area. American Family reported 5,800 bang-up vehicles in the metro.
Combined, the two companies insure about one third of the area's cars and trucks.
The National Weather Service had numerous reports of 1 3/4-inch hail, sometimes larger, as strong thunderstorms swept across the region Saturday. One storm blew apart a large tent at Kilroy's Sports Bar south of Busch Stadium, fatally injuring one man and hurting 100 others.
Scott Blind, owner of a company that specializes in repairing hail damage, said smaller insurance companies work through body shops or hire independent adjusters. He said his KhS Global of Sunset Hills already has 5,000 customers lined up and expects more as claims roll in.
"We'll be busy for six months," said Blind.
Blind's company smooths out hail dimples manually, pushing on them from the inside with special tools.
Brice Huddleston, catastrophe team manager at State Farm's Hazelwood claims shop, said that the "paintless dent repair" system works well for smaller hail dimples.
Bigger jobs, Huddleston said, can require replacing hoods and roofs. That's how repair costs climb quickly.
The big insurance companies have traveling adjusters who descend on storm locations to handle claims. Huddleston, of St. Louis, counts Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast in 2005 among his campaigns.
At the shops, every customer has a lively story about hail. Jenny Morris said she and her husband were in a tavern at Westport with friends "when the whole sky fell in. We were lucky. A friend's car only two (parking) spots away had the windows smashed."
Bob Terry said his family retreated to the basement "when it sounded like horses running across our roof. I watched baseball hail banging off the cars. It's a bad feeling."
Insurance adjusters also are busy with roofs, chimneys, windows and siding on homes and other buildings. State Farm reported 9,900 property claims, and American Family already has 5,100, spokesmen said.
Large hail can do that. Severe thunderstorms that bombarded the area on April 10, 2001, caused about $700 million in damage. That was Missouri's costliest storm until the tornado that ripped apart Joplin on May 22, 2011, killing 161 people. Claims there already have reached $1.4 billion, according to the Missouri Department of Insurance.

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