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Hurricane Harvey’s Aftermath: The Struggles Continue

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

Since it made landfall in Texas on the night of August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey has become the strongest hurricane to hit the US in more than ten years, and the most powerful one to hit Texas in more than 50 years. Catastrophic flooding has struck the region and residents near the area beneath the Barker Reservoir were finally forced to evacuate on August 31.

Below is a video published by CNN showing what Hurricane Harvey left behind:

While help is coming from all sources, the residents who have been greatly affected by the calamity are starting to deal with the aftermath, even if what lies ahead of them may be quite bleak, given the extent of destruction Harvey has so far caused.

Reports point to the following statistics:

  • Data from property analytics firm CoreLogic reveals that insurers will only cover about 70% of the damages, since most of the damaged homes were not in high-risk flood zones and thus did not have flood coverage in their policies.
  • The US disaster relief policy suggests that homeowners get almost zero federal relief for reconstruction.
  • JPMorgan estimates that insured losses could reach as much as $10 billion to $20 billion.
  • The Insurance Information Institute also disclosed that only 12% of homeowners nationwide have flood insurance.
  • Predictions on the final cost differ, but preliminary estimate from weather forecast provider AccuWeather is around $190 billion. This is equal to the total cost of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and represents a 1% economic impact to the gross national product.

Precisely how homeowners intend to rebuild their properties is a question they are asking themselves, amidst physical, emotional and mental difficulties. As the government and local and international experts begin assessing the damage inflicted by Hurricane Harvey, the residents’ struggles to move on continue. The crisis has opened up a lot of issues, problems and possible solutions in the future, but most importantly, lessons have been learned and sparks of hope begin to flicker.

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The Pros and Cons of Coastal Living

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

For some people, living by the sea may be a dream worthy to wish for and follow. The serenity that coastal living promises may be understandably hard to resist. The Gulf Shores in Alabama, for example, is well known for its soft and ultra-bright white sand. Residents can both bask in the sea breeze or a few miles west, even watch sea turtles and migratory birds at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, an added perk any nature lover would surely enjoy.

Image source: Coastal Living

Aside from having a relaxed mental state and having an awesome view to wake up to every day, living on the coast also allows for more recreational activities, healthier living, and less stress. You can get more Vitamin D from the sun and breathe fresher air. The sea has also been proven as an effective way to get rid of hair chemicals and dirt or even cure skin diseases such as psoriasis and dermatitis.

However, those who wish to invest in coastal properties should also bear in mind the possible drawbacks of such decision:

  • The wear and tear resulting from extended exposure to sea air, which may shorten the lifespan of wood, cement and metal because of the higher level of moisture and corrosive salt it brings
  • The terrain types of properties along the coast are harder than normal to build on, thus may mean more expensive construction costs
  • Greater risk of flooding, which can impact your house and contents insurance
  • The possibility of coastal erosion which may result to temporary or worse, permanent damage to the property
  • Requires more maintenance especially if the façade is directly exposed to the prevailing wind

Whitehaven has specialized in writing high risk coastal properties since 2004. Get in touch with an expert now and find out how you can protect your investment without having to spend more.

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When Lightning Strikes along the Coast

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

Living along the Gulf Coast usually means more exposure to thunderstorms and definitely right after, lightning strikes. Thunderstorms most often form in mid-latitude areas where warm air exists underneath much cooler air. Fronts are the boundaries that separate these two large air masses when they meet. Lightning bolts may last for just about one of 10,000th of a second, but the electricity they can generate could light a 100-watt bulb for three months.

There are risks associated to lightning strikes, and being constantly exposed to such may be too much to handle for some. The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warns of the danger posed by ground currents, which happen when a lightning strikes, accounting for possibly more than half of all lightning injuries and deaths.

Image source: Accuweather

Fortunately, as long as you keep in mind these tips, you can deal with this natural threat effectively and continue to enjoy what coastal living promises:

  • Close all windows and doors and stay in the middle of the house.
  • Stay away from anything connected by wires such as a corded phone and switch off all electrical appliances.
  • Refrain from getting near water and objects that conduct electricity, mostly those that are made from metal.
  • Do not take a shower and get away from sinks or any similar objects. Lightning can even strike through pipes.
  • Should a lightning strike happens while you are outside, especially if you are in an open field, steer away from trees or poles or any large object and curl into a ball in a standing position.
  • A vehicle may prove to be a safer option for you but remember to close all windows and not to touch the car’s walls as its body is mostly made up of metal. Stay inside for 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.
  • Be aware of the level of risk you are facing. If you hear thunder in the distance, start heading inside.

Whether you are living in the city or near the sea, natural threats may always pose a risk. Being well-informed and knowing how to protect yourself and your family will allow you greater freedom and less chances to worry.

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Tropical Storm Hazards: How to Deal with Them

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) defines tropical cyclone as a non-frontal storm system that has low pressure center, spiral rain bands and strong winds. To distinguish the disaster types from one another, meteorologists refer to storms depending on their locations:

  • Cyclone – Indian Ocean and South Pacific
  • Hurricane – Western Atlantic and Eastern Pacific
  • Typhoon – Western Pacific

These disasters generally cause a wider range of destruction than floods. A noteworthy fact is that safety measures can be observed since their occurrence can be predicted several days in advance.

The National Weather Service has identified the key hazards from tropical cyclones:

  • Storm surge flooding – the abnormal rise of water resulting from storm’s winds
  • Inland flooding from heavy rains
  • Destructive winds that can put down buildings and manufactured homes
  • Tornadoes
  • High surf and rip currents – can damage structures along the coastline from as far as 1,000 miles offshore

Here are some tips to protect yourself, your family and your property from these hazards:

  • Have an escape route in case there is a need to evacuate.
  • Prepare a disaster supplies kit that contains the following

Image source: Weather Underground

  • Listen to local authorities and follow their advice, however unreasonable it may first sound. Heed all warnings. They are in the best position to do so.
  • Stay away from windows or glass areas.
  • Secure the walls, roof and eaves of your home.
  • Unless instructed or forced to evacuate, remain indoors and stay in the strongest part of the house/building.

If you have properties along the coastline, one of the most effective ways to protect them from these natural phenomena is getting the right insurance.

Whitehaven commits to resolve any issues during these catastrophic events as they have expertise when it comes to the current insurance conditions along the Gulf Coast. You may probably have been aware of the risks when you decided to purchase that property. Through proper management and an open mind, you are on your way of getting over the stress caused by such potential risks.

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Protecting Your Home from Intruders

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program defines burglary as the unlawful entry of a residence or structure (garage or shed) by an individual or group of individuals, whose intention in most cases is to commit a felony or theft. As long as the person who entered the property had no legal right to be present in the property, a burglary can be already established.

Image source: Burglary Lawyer

FBI statistics show that the estimated number of burglaries in 2015 accounted for 19.8 percent of the calculated number of property crimes. Burglaries of residential properties made up the 71.6 percent of all burglary offenses. These figures enough justify the need for homes to be better protected, especially if they are located in high-risk areas.

Burglary can be classified into four types:

  1. Completed burglary. A successful unlawful entry achieved with or without force
  2. Forcible entry. A successful burglary in which force is used to gain entry to a property.
  3. Unlawful entry without force. A form of completed burglary in which no force is used.
  4. Attempted forcible entry. Force is used in an attempt to enter a structure.

There are initial steps that a homeowner can take to prevent burglary:

  • Install an alarm system. Consider asking your provider to deliver a fast response time or to automatically notify the police once an alarm event occurs.
  • Install security cameras. Outdoor security cameras with night vision are recommended and a hard drive that can record a few days worth of video.
  • Invest in strong window and door locks.
  • Leave the lights on especially if you plan on going on a vacation for long periods of time.
  • Protect your valuables by placing them in safety vaults.
  • Households who own dogs are less likely to attract burglars. Keep in mind though, that owning dogs should not be solely due to guarding against burglary.
  • Ensure that your mails and other deliveries are properly monitored and kept away from the prying eyes of burglars.

Finally, you may also opt to purchase a burglary or crime insurance, which covers the property against loss or damage in the event of a house break. You may want to keep a documented list of your personal and valuable belongings as insurance companies usually require documented proof of ownership to avoid possible fraudulent claims.

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Alabama Boating Laws and Regulations: An Overview

In Alabama and several other US states, any individual aged 12 and older who intends to operate a motorized boat needs to seek education. Those who are between 12 and 13 years need to be supervised by another person who is at least 21 years of age and capable of taking immediate control of the boat if necessary. Do note that completing a boating course is different from actually having a boating license.

Operators who meet any of the following criteria need not get a boating certification:

  • With a legal US Coast Guard Motorboat Operator’s License
  • Successfully accomplished a safe boating course approved by the ALEA Marine Police Division or a similar course offered by US Power Squadrons or the US Coast Guard Auxiliary
  • Aged 40 years or older as of April 28, 1994.

You need to register a boat within 72 hours after its purchase. Most powered watercraft (sailboats, mechanically propelled vessels, rental boats) must be registered in Alabama, except for the following:

  • Non-motorized boats
  • Boat trailers
  • Are registered and kept in another state (Note: Boats are allowed to operate for 90 days or less.)
  • With temporary certificates of number
  • Registered in another country and just temporarily operating in Alabama
  • A ship’s lifeboats
  • Owned by a government entity/agency
  • Have a commercial documentation with the US Coast Guard

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) also provides boat certification to ensure adherence to the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) standards. Around 90% of boats are built to ABYC Standards.

A boat safety course is usually taken by operators to save on their personal watercraft (PWC) or boat insurance. Insurance companies acknowledge the less likelihood of filing a claim for those who have taken the effort to commit to safety education and thus are open to lowering boat insurance rates. To guarantee the best possible premiums, consult with your insurance agent first before signing up.

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

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Tropical Storm & Hurricane Preparations for Condominium Associations

 

TROPICAL STORM / HURRICANE PREPARATION

CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATIONS

 

  • Provide Whitehaven with the name of the current insurance contact representing your association. (Name, Phone Numbers, and E-mail Address)
  • If you have a catastrophe contract with a general contractor contact them to assist you in securing your property when and if it becomes necessary.
  • Place loose unsecured items inside the building or storage unit. (Pool/Patio Furniture, Trash Cans, Signs etc.)
  • Place loose unsecured private property inside the individual units. (Patio Furniture, Plants, Door Mats etc.)
  • Raise elevators to the highest floor and shut down power.
  • Protect glass doors and windows with storm shutters or plywood if possible.

 

POST STORM

 

  • Contact Whitehaven to report damage. (Phone Numbers provided below)
  • Go ahead and make repairs to prevent further damage. (Make sure to take plenty of pictures and keep all receipts for the adjuster so you can include the temporary repair expenses in your claim)
  • Do not make permanent repairs until an insurance adjuster sees the property and advises you on what steps to take.
  • Provide the adjuster with current contact information of the insurance contact representing your association. (Name, Phone Numbers, and E-mail Address) This will allow the adjuster to work with one person from the association which will prevent confusion and help expedite the claim.

WHITEHAVEN CONTACT INFORMATION

 

www.whitehaveninsurance.com

 

Whitehaven Insurance Gulf Shores Office                  (251) 967-3323

Whitehaven Insurance Atlanta Office                          (770) 267-3323

Please report claims to the office numbers or through our website

 

 

EMERGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION

 

Name                        E-mail Address                                                       Direct Line**

 

Lance Alexander         lance.alexander@whitehaveninsurance.com            (251) 967-1107

Debbie Gibson             debbie.gibson@whitehaveninsurance.com               (251) 968-3407

Cindy Gooch                cindy.gooch@whitehaveninsurance.com                  (251) 967-3426

Scott Harris                 scott.harris@whitehaveninsurance.com                   (251) 967-3425

Dora Hartsock             dora.hartsock@whitehaveninsurance.com               (251) 967-5206

Kelly Henderson          kelly.henderson@whitehaveninsurance.com            (251) 968-3404

John Sadlis                  john.sadlis@whitehaveninsurance.com                     (251) 424-1758

Barbara Schillace        barbara.schillace@whitehaveninsurance.com          (251) 968-3406

Crystal Sizemore         crystal.sizemore@whitehaveninsurance.com           (251) 967-1079

Debbie Walters           debbie.walters@whitehaveninsurance.com              (251) 968-3406

Bruce White                bruce.white@whitehaveninsurance.com                   (770) 267-3323

 

**Direct lines are transferred to the agent’s cell phone

 

 

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Car Insurance and Watercraft Insurance: How Do They Differ?

Boating is a recreational activity mainly done by the middle-class and has always been associated with adventure, bonding, and fun. According to the 2014 National Marine Manufacturers Association data, 35.7% of the US population, equivalent to 87.3 million Americans, participated in recreational boating at least once in 2014. With the enjoyment of such hobby comes the responsibility of protecting the vessel. A basic knowledge of what differentiate watercraft insurance from car insurance will help you decide the type of insurance you need for your boat:

Image source: The Watercraft Journal

  1. Car insurance protects the vehicle for its market value regardless of what is involved in the loss. On the other hand, mort watercraft insurance policies offer a predetermined and agreed value regardless of depreciation on the vessel. Thus, you will get payment for the cost of the boat at the time of purchase.
  2. Insurance for boats can be put on hold, unlike cars which need to be insured as long as they are registered under the owner’s name. This saves money especially if you rarely use your boat. Just remember not to take your boat out when it is not covered during that month.
  3. There are areas that restrict entry of boats and thus will not be included in your coverage. Make sure that you are aware where these areas are.
  4. Except for New Hampshire, all states have ordained mandatory car insurance liability laws. In fact, it is considered illegal in 50 states to drive without the proper car insurance. Though not mandatory, insurance for pleasure boats is usually required if you have a loan using the vessel as collateral. Some marinas also require liability insurance.

To save money on watercraft insurance, follow these tips:

  1. Shop around and get specific with your needs.
  2. Avail of policy discounts on safety features.
  3. Enroll yourself in a boating class. Having a certification can offer savings on your policy.
  4. Stretch out your lay-up period. Insurers can cut your premium if there are specific months that you will not use the boat.
  5. Finally, deal with an insurer that is capable of offering effective options specific to your needs. Whitehaven Insurance can deliver that for you. Get a quote now and enjoy a worry-free adventure the next time you are out on the waters.
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Ease Your Way In To The Stock Market

Heads up, you know darned well that you have to do something with your money. Something besides enjoying your weekends and getting your hands on the latest electronic gadget. That something, as you have probably already figured out is about getting up close and personal with the world of investments.

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