Amid comments from Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point person for the BP Oil Spill cleanup, Florida public adjuster Tutwiler and Associates warns property owners about how oil damage could affect their insurance policies.
(PRNewsChannel) / July 14, 2010 / TAMPA, Fla. / For Florida public adjuster Tutwiler and Associates, hurricane season is already a busy time of year. This year, however, as millions of gallons of oil fill the Gulf of Mexico and property owners throughout the Gulf Coast region worry about how the BP oil spill will affect their homes, hurricane season will bring new challenges.
The licensed and certified public adjusters say comments from Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen (Ret.), the government’s point person for the BP oil spill, shed light on what could be a nightmare problem for property owners along the Gulf Coast.
“A two to three foot storm surge… would push oil inland, potentially to unanticipated places such as private homes, which could complicate clean-up efforts and the compensation of victims,” said Adm. Allen as Hurricane Alex threatened the Gulf Coast earlier this month. “We’re going to need some rules. We have to define what’s oil-spill related and what’s hurricane damage. If oil from this spill is pushed inland, let’s say into a house as a result of the hurricane, that is legitimate damage from the oil spill and is subject to be paid.”
While Admiral Allen’s comments are most likely directed to BP paying “legitimate damage,” based on the experience of Tutwiler and Associates, that will be problematic when claims are filed with the wind insurance company and the National Flood Insurance Program, both of whom may insure the same structure. Damage from oil may very well be defined as “pollution” and is a common exclusion within insurance policies.
The Florida public adjuster Tutwiler and Associates have worked extensively throughout the Gulf Coast region and understand the potential catastrophic effects a significant storm surge could cause to the coastal areas. Adding oil to an already hazardous situation further complicates the insurance process, too.
“Admiral Allen’s comments couldn’t be more correct and they couldn’t be more of a warning,” says Dick Tutwiler, founder and CEO of Tutwiler and Associates. “In a storm event, you’ll have wind and flood causing property damage, but throughout the Gulf Coast, a third thing contributing to damage may very well be the oil residue. The question becomes, how does this change the claim dynamic with someone’s property insurance policy?”
That oil residue is what the Florida public adjuster says muddies the already murky waters of storm damage coverage. Tutwiler says it’s important for property owners to know the finer details of their insurance policies, but understanding the policy’s exclusions is also vital because pollution is a common exclusion, which could include oil pushed by a tropical storm or hurricane coming ashore and causing damage to insured property. The Florida public adjuster says there is something policyholders should do to protect their property before a storm.
“Preparation to prove the cause of the damage to their home is going to be one of the biggest issues for policyholders this hurricane season,” says Tutwiler about oil being involved with a storm surge and causing damage to an insured building and its contents. “Property owners need to start the dialogue now with their insurers to make sure the insurance company’s position on oil is clear. That way, before the storm damage occurs, the policyholder will already know what is covered and what isn’t.”
Tutwiler says policyholders need to discuss this issue with their agent or broker before a storm hits and get in writing what they are told regarding coverage for oil damage. This is especially important, he says, in the days immediately following a storm because mitigation companies that help cleanup storm damage come to affected areas to try to get as much business as possible. These companies sign contracts with homeowners, and when property owners try to bill their insurance carrier to pay the mitigation companies, the adjuster may say part of the clean up for pollutants, i.e. oil, is excluded. That’s why the Florida public adjuster says pre-damage preparation and a discussion of insurance issues are so important.
For more information, please visit www.PublicAdjuster.com
About Tutwiler and Associates: Tutwiler and Associates is a firm of public adjusters licensed in 11 states and the US Virgin Islands specializing in commercial and residential property loss adjusting. With well in excess of $113 million in client success stories over a 27-year history, the Florida public adjusters work exclusively on behalf of policyholders to help them achieve the maximum settlement amounts they can fairly and honestly recover based on their loss and their policy provisions. Professional help from the adjusters at Tutwiler and Associates can help clients obtain a fair recovery under their policy. The Gulf Coast based public adjuster firm is committed to public service and strives to educate its clients about commercial and residential windstorm and hurricane losses, flood damage, fire, smoke and water damage, collapse, hidden decay and mold losses, sinkholes, loss of stock, and business interruption.