What Accountants Need to Know About the 'Business Income Worksheet'

SMW’s Mindi Labella recently authored a helpful article on the challenging ‘Business Income Worksheet’ that is featured in the May edition of SumNews, the monthly magazine of the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants (MSCPA).

In the article, Mindi explains the importance of understanding the Business Income Worksheet and the value CPAs can deliver to their clients by knowing the correct way to fill out this confusing insurance form.

Read the article below:

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Mindi Labella

Mindi specializes in commercial losses, business interruption, extra expense and time element claims, and draws on her business background to advocate on the clients’ behalf.

 


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

What is Business Interruption Coverage, and How Does It Work?

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Many owners of small- and medium-sized businesses have “Business Interruption” (BI) coverage in their commercial insurance policies.  But we often hear from business owners who aren’t fully sure what BI is exactly, or how it comes into play in the event of a property loss suffered by their business.

The question they most frequently ask: Why do I need BI coverage?

The answer we always provide: Because it makes you whole – restoring you financially to a position as if you had not suffered any loss at all.

Basically, BI compensates you for lost profits.  After all, if your business burns down, you won’t have customers coming in.  And if you don’t have any customers coming in, you can’t get paid. BI accounts for that shortfall.

So, if your business has a catastrophic event, and it’s covered by your insurance policy, BI pays for lost net income and expenses incurred while you undertake reconstruction.

Imagine your business has a major fire.  It might take you 12 months to rebuild and refurbish the premises before you can reopen.  Your BI policy pays you whatever revenue you would have earned during that time (minus revenue you actually did earn during this period, of course).

Let’s look at some real-world examples to get a sense of how BI works in practice.  A BI policy will pay:

  •  Salary – If a florist, for example, typically pays himself a salary from his business earnings to cover his personal expenses (home mortgage, cost of living items, etc.), BI will pay that salary.

  • Interest Expenses – Suppose a store owner took out a loan to purchase expensive equipment for the business.  That note still exists, even after the property loss.  Facing the absence of revenue, the business owner must nonetheless continue paying interest on that loan.  BI enables her to keep paying the interest expense until business revenue returns.

  • Fixed Overhead Expenses – Most businesses have an array of fixed overhead expenses – the contracts for trash removal or pest control services, for example, or the building lease.  And sometimes you aren’t able (or don’t want) to get out of a contract after a loss.  BI allows you to continue to pay your fixed overhead expenses.  That way you don’t lose the great rate you negotiated on a contract.

As these examples show, BI is a hugely significant form of assistance.  BI allows you to pay your mortgage or rent, and to continue drawing your standard paycheck from the business.  BI lets you maintain a presence in your industry while your business is in the process of recovering from a disaster.  Think about it: 12 months is a long time, and you want to reopen after that recovery period as if nothing happened.  BI helps you keep your industry profile while you deal with the disaster.

Calculating BI coverage is complex, and can vary depending on your policy.  The period of time for which BI covers lost revenue, for example, can change from policy to policy.  What’s more, determining both the projected revenue of your business and the lost revenue – the basis for BI pay-outs – requires expert accounting.  There’s also the question of duration – how long your policy covers the business, and the period of time for which the business is affected for coverage purposes.  And this is before we get into variable and fixed costs, payroll coverage for employees, and other complicated matters relating to BI that come into play during settlement discussions with your insurance carrier.

We will follow this post with a separate piece examining these carrier-related BI complexities and other elements of BI.  Of course, the real takeaway is that you really should get a public adjuster to optimize your BI claims.  Almost every element of utilizing BI coverage requires expertise and back-and-forth with the insurance company’s claims team, which is using its own expertise to minimize coverage payout.

What you really need to know about BI coverage is that you should have it, because it will pay (most of) your costs during the time when your business is recovering from a covered event. Once you need to use your BI coverage – hand it over to a public adjuster!


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Mindi Labella

She specializes in commercial losses, business interruption, extra expense and time element claims, and draws on her business background to advocate on the clients’ behalf.

 


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

SMW Share Highlights From Recent MAPIA Continuing Education Seminar

May 8th 2019

May 8th 2019

On May 8th, SMW team members met with our public adjuster (PA) counterparts from across Massachusetts to hold a dialogue on the issue of top importance to the PA industry.  Hosted by the Massachusetts Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (MAPIA), the seminar took place in Waltham and addressed several trends that directly impact PAs – both in Massachusetts and across the nation.

Among the numerous compelling topics, the following updates by MAPIA presenters resonated strongly with us:

UPPA – The Unlicensed Practice of Public Adjusting has dogged the PA industry for decades.  A big source of UPPA problems involves roofers and contractors.  These professionals are very important, but they are not licensed as PAs and are NOT qualified to handle an insurance claim. Some of them, however, try to convince homeowners that they can indeed fill a PA role.  What’s more, some roofers and/or contractors sometimes try to claim a percentage of the claim payout. This is not legal and harms the homeowners and legitimate PAs.

Assignment of benefits – This holds similar challenges to UPPA, because you’re assigning your claim to another party.

Professional fees endorsements – In policies, the insurance companies say they’ll pay up to a certain amount for an accountant – but they refuse to pay any fees for a public adjuster.  This is inequitable and leaves policyholders without the expertise they need to successfully navigate the claims process.

NAPIA – The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA) provides many valuable services that complement the state-level work, including legislative tracking, standards development for membership and ethics, and involvement with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

To learn more about MAPIA, NAPIA or recent developments affecting the PA industry, please contact us!


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

In Mass., Value-Based Disputes Can Go to Reference Instead of Litigation

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The two sides of a potential compromise don’t always agree.  This is often the case in property insurance settlements, where an agreement must be reached before the claim can be finalized and closed.

What happens when the two sides – the insured and the insurance carrier – simply can’t agree on the amount of a loss?

If you’re in Massachusetts, you enter a mediation process known as Reference.  If you are anywhere else in the U.S., you enter into a similar, but slightly different, process known as Appraisal.

At SMW, we have broad experience in both of these dispute resolution arenas.  Given that our headquarters is in Massachusetts, however, we have particular familiarity with Reference.  Let’s take a close look at this Mass.-specific solution to value-centered disputes.

Massachusetts lawmakers have codified Reference in General Law Chapter 175 Section 100 et seq, setting forth the definitions and relevant procedures.  

 Section 100. If a claim is presented under any policy of fire insurance issued on property or interests in the commonwealth in the standard form set forth in the preceding section, and if the parties fail to agree as to the amount of loss, the company shall, within ten days after receiving a written demand from the insured for the reference of the amount of loss to three referees as provided in such policy, submit in writing the names and addresses of three persons to the insured, who shall, within ten days after receiving such names, notify the company in writing of his choice of one of the said persons to act as one of said referees.

The insured shall submit in writing the names and addresses of three persons to the company, which shall, within ten days after receiving such names, notify the insured in writing of its choice of one of said persons to act as one of said referees.

If, at the expiration of ten days from the choice of the second referee, the two referees chosen as hereinbefore provided, shall not have agreed upon and selected a person to act as the third referee, then either of the said referees or parties may make written application on oath to the commissioner in such form as he may prescribe, for the appointment of the third referee and the commissioner shall, after such summary inquiry or hearing, if any, as he may deem expedient, appoint a person to serve as the third referee and shall notify such person and the parties in writing of such appointment

It’s important to recognize that you can only go to Reference to resolve value-based disputes – i.e., the extent of loss and the amount of damage under an insurance policy.  Reference is not the venue to address questions of liability or coverage.

Reference is useful because it offers a quick and cost-effective means of settling disagreements over the value of a claim.  So, instead of forcing the insured to undertake expensive and time-consuming litigation, the parties have the option of a more efficient way to resolve the dispute.


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

Extended Business Interruption Coverage Memorandum

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Dear Colleague,

We are writing to alert you to an important – and problematic – insurance policy position held by The Travelers Companies that might directly impact your commercial policyholders.  We hope you will join us in bringing this issue to the attention of underwriters at Travelers and advocating for a change in Travelers’ position in this area.

We identified this problem recently during our representation of a small business owner whose pizza shop suffered fire damage.  The owner had a Travelers-issued manuscript policy for small business owners (MP T1 02 02 05).

This MP provided Business Income (BI) and Extra Expense (EE) coverage to the insured for 12 months of actual loss.  Notably, the MP also provided an additional 60 days of Extended Business Income (EBI) for a period of 60 days and an additional endorsement that extended it to 90 days.

The landlord of the strip mall where the pizza shop was located took 18 months to rebuild.  Travelers duly paid 12 months under the BI clause.  However, when we submitted a claim for the 90-day EBI, the Travelers adjuster denied it.  In explaining this denial, Travelers stated that the EBI was included in the 12 months of BI coverage and therefore did not apply to any days subsequent to that time frame.

We believe this position is patently wrong.  In our view, the “extended” portion of Extended Business Income means “in addition to and beyond” the baseline BI coverage.  In our experience, EBI coverage starts on the day after the insured resumes normal business operations.  We base this position on years of industry practice and our shared understanding of the intention of EBI coverage: to provide a “ramp-up period” that enables the insured to get sales and revenue back to where they were prior to the loss.

The Travelers position poses a clear problem for any business owner who must rely on Travelers-issued EBI coverage.  These business owners will be short-changed – an injustice exacerbated by the fact that insureds are paying for an endorsement for EBI but are in fact getting less coverage.

We firmly believe Travelers should have paid the EBI claim described above, and should do so in other such cases in the future.

We wanted to alert you to this unfair practice by Travelers, and ask that you consider bringing this to the attention of your Travelers representatives and underwriters. We have attached a detailed brief providing specific information on this issue.

We value your role as advocates for your clients, and are confident you would object if Travelers similarly denied EBI coverage to one of your insureds facing a 12-month loss.

Please review the attached materials. We hope you will take a moment to contact us and discuss constructive next steps to address this important issue.

We appreciate your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

SMW

MEMORANDUM

 

TO:                 Agents
FROM:          Mindi Labella, CPA, VP Swerling Milton Winnick Public Adjusters
RE:                 Travelers Position on Extended Business Income Coverage
DATE:            8 April 2019

 

Background

The Travelers Companies (“Travelers”) recently denied a portion of the property loss claim from a business (pizza shop) owner whose leased premises suffered major damage from a fire in December 2016.  The business owner (“the Insured”) purchased the manuscript policy MP T1 02 02 05 for small business owners from Travelers prior to the loss. This policy provided both Business Income and Extra Expense coverage to the Insured for 12 months of actual loss, as well as for 60 days of Extended Business Income.  Additionally, the Insured purchased the ‘Eating Establishment Endorsement’ form MP T1 68 03 06, which increased the Extended Business Income from 60 to 90 days. 

Repairs to the fire-damaged building, overseen and financed by the building owner (the Landlord), required more than one year to complete. The Insured was not able to resume operations until June 2018 – 18 months after the fire.

Travelers paid the Insured’s business interruption claim for the first 12 months of actual loss, but denied the Extended Business Income, which began in June 2018. According to the Travelers adjuster who denied the EBI claim, the 12 months of Business Interruption Insurance (BII) was exhausted, and this 12-month limitation includes Extended Business Income (EBI).”

Thus, having paid for 12 months of BII coverage, Travelers denied any additional claims for EBI.  What’s more, the Insured had purchased an enhancement endorsement – providing 30 additional days of coverage – and Travelers also denied additional claims under this coverage provision.  Based on Travelers’ position, the additional coverage given under the enhancement endorsement was included within the 12-month limit.

 Travelers’ position in this matter forecloses virtually any scenario in which the Insured – or, presumably, any business owner holding such a policy issued by Travelers – could utilize EBI coverage.  Even facing an endorsement providing 365 days of EBI, it seems, Travelers believes it can rightly deny any claims beyond the 12 months of BII.

 

The Relevant Policy Provisions

The Insured’s policy contains a header labeled “Business Income and Extra Expense” and has the following three sub-heads: a. Business Income, b. Extra Expense and c. Extended Business Income.  These are three separate and distinct coverages, each with their own definitions.

 For specific reference to the policy provision for Extended Business Income, please refer to Appendix A at the end of this Memo.

 The relevant section of the policy’s Business Income and Extra Expense Coverage – the final paragraph – is silent regarding the third coverage, Extended Business Income.  Because the Declarations page of the Insured’s policy likewise contains no reference to “Extended Business Income,” we must look within the policy to determine the limit for this coverage. 

Paragraph (c) of the Business Income coverage section addresses Extended Business Income.  In our view, reading this section would lead virtually any business owner to interpret the Extended Business Income coverage as being “in addition to”, rather than included in a limit that does not even reference the EBI coverage.

Because the word “Extended” is not explicitly defined in the policy, we must assume the common meaning of the word.  Black’s Law Dictionary defines “Extend” as: “To expand, enlarge, prolong, widen, carry out, further than the original limit; as, to extend the time for filing an answer, to extend a lease, term of office, charter, railroad track, etc.”  The definition says “further than the original limit.”

This definition clearly suggests that the original limit is capped by either the period of time it should take to repair or replace the property OR 12 months - whichever comes first.  If 12 months comes first, the Extended Business Income must go beyond that period.  This is the only logical and rational interpretation a business owner can take.  Otherwise, the Insured would have effectively purchased coverage that could never, under any scenario, actually be utilized.

The Insured paid an additional premium for an enhancement endorsement affording more coverage.  The first item in the enhancement endorsement extends the Extended Business Income from 60 to 90 days.  If we accept Travelers’ interpretation of Extended Business Income, this enhancement actually reduces the insured’s overall coverage. 

 In Travelers’ scenario, an insured with 12 months of Business Income coverage and 60 days of Extended Business Income would have to resume operations 10 months after the loss, and then would begin the 60-day Extended Business Income period in order to maximize both coverages.  By purchasing this enhancement, this insured would now have to resume operations in 9 months and then begin the 90-day Extended Period to maximize both coverages.  For even more protection, Travelers will gladly sell the insured 365 days of Extended Business Income coverage. But there’s a catch: this insured could never use both the Business Income and Extended Business Income coverage, according to Travelers’ interpretation.  Perversely, the enhancement for which the insured paid an additional premium ends up placing the insured in a worse position than they enjoyed prior to the loss.

The legal standard in Massachusetts is “consider(ing) what an objectively reasonable insured, reading the relevant policy language, would expect to be coverage.” Thomas McGregor v. AllAmerica Insurance Company 449 Mass. 403 (2007).  According to this standard, a reasonable reading of the Extended Business Income coverage provision would suggest an additional coverage that complements, or augments, the basic Business Interruption coverage.  Any other interpretation – e.g., buying additional Extended Business Income coverage that reduces the base Business Income coverage – renders the extended coverage illusory.

Because Travelers uses its own forms to draft coverage, all Travelers-issued coverage presumably reflects Travelers’ particular views and intentions. And yet, Travelers’ forms show a remarkable resemblance to standard ISO forms typically used in the general insurance marketplace. (Please see Appendix C for reference)

It is also worth noting that the Extended Business Income is listed with the Business Income coverage under the additional coverages (paragraph d), and that Extra Expense is afforded its own separate paragraph (e).  In the later edition (BP 00 03 01 06), Extended Business Income is given its own section under “Business Income,” along with Business Income and Extra Expense.  While it is very similar to the format Travelers utilizes, the wording is fundamentally the same in the later Business Owner’s Policy (BOP).

The other pertinent ISO form is the Commercial Property form CP 00 30 04 02, Business Income (with Extra Expense).  This policy affords coverage for Extended Business Income as well. (Please see Appendix D for reference)

Notably, all three policies contain similar wording regarding Extended Business Income coverage, including the outline of the coverage.  However, other carriers have agreed that the Extended Business Income coverage is in addition to – and not part of – the time limit for the Business Income and Extra Expense coverage.  The strikingly similar wording within all three forms suggests all carriers should similarly apply such coverage.

 

The Relevant Court Cases

The analysis above begs a compelling question: what if the Insured had enhanced the policy to include 365 days of Extended Business Income?  A recent case in New Jersey addresses this very situation.  In Milk Indus. Mgmt. Corp. v. Travelers Indem. Co. of Am. (D. N.J., 2018), the insured purchased an enhancement endorsement extending the Extended Business Income from 180 days to 365 days.  MIMCO rented a facility that was destroyed by fire and the building’s owner decided not to replace the facility.  MIMCO had purchased a policy from Travelers, and MIMCO made claim for business income for the term of a contract with a customer, as well as payment for the Extended Business Income for 365 days.

While the facts of Milk Indus. Mgmt. Corp. differ slightly from our situation, key holdings nonetheless directly apply to our own case.  As part of their argument, Travelers stated “(T)he purpose of Extended BI is to provide coverage to an insured during the time period after the property has been restored and the insured essentially gets back on its feet and resumes operations at the level it was operating before the loss.”  Travelers agrees that the Extended Business Income period starts after the business resumes operations and is intended to help the insured get back up on its feet.  However, Travelers inclusion of the Extended Business Income period in the Business Income limit directly violates the spirit of the Extended Business Income coverage.

 

Conclusion

Travelers has taken a position on Extended Business Income that is incorrect and unsupported by the policy.  Additionally, Travelers’ interpretation is not that of an “objectively reasonable insured,” thereby rendering the policy illusory.  Typically, carriers only change their position on coverage when an insured litigates – a costly and lengthy process that doesn’t always produce holdings that readily apply to analogous fact patterns.  Consumers and agents must be aware of the position which Travelers has taken, and through the consumers and agents we can work to change their minds.


 

 

Appendix A – Extended Business Income

The policy for Extended Business Income states:

c. Extended Business Income

If the necessary “suspension” of your “operations” produces a Business Income loss payable under Paragraph a. Business Income above, we will also pay for the actual loss of Business Income you sustain during the period that:

(1) Begins on the date property is actually repaired, rebuilt or replaced and “operations” are resumed; and

(2) Ends on the earlier of:

(a) The date you could restore your “operations” with reasonable speed, to the level which would generate the Business Income amount that would have existed if no direct physical loss or damage occurred; or

(b) Sixty consecutive days after the date determined in Paragraph (1) above

Appendix B – the final paragraph of the Business Income and Extra Expense Coverage

d. If the Declarations show for Business Income and Extra Expense:

(1) Actual loss for 12 consecutive months, then we will pay for loss of Business Income and Extra Expense that occurs within 12 consecutive months following the date of direct physical loss or damage; or

(2) Actual loss up to 12 consecutive months subject to a maximum dollar limit, then we will pay for loss of Business Income and Extra Expenses that occurs within 12 consecutive months following the date of direct physical loss or damage, subject to the limit shown in any one occurrence.

 

Appendix C – the Businessowners Policy (BP 00 01 01 97)

(2) Extended Business Income

If the necessary suspension of your “operations” produces a Business Income loss payable under this policy, we will pay for the actual loss of Business Income you incur during the period that:

(a) Begins on the date property except finished stock is actually repaired, rebuilt or replaced and operations are resumed: and

(b) Ends on the earlier of:

(i) The date you would restore your “operations”, with reasonable speed, to the level which would generate the Business Income amount that would have existed if no direct physical loss or damage had occurred; or

(ii) 30 consecutive days after the date determined in (a) above.

 

Appendix D -- Commercial Property form CP 00 30 04 02, Business Income
(with Extra Expense)

c. Extended Business Income

(1) Business Income Other Than "Rental Value" If the necessary "suspension" of your "operations" produces a Business Income loss payable under this policy, we will pay for the actual loss of Business Income you incur during the period that:

(a) Begins on the date property (except "finished stock") is actually repaired, rebuilt or replaced and "operations" are resumed; and

(b) Ends on the earlier of:

(i) The date you could restore your "operations", with reasonable speed, to the level which would generate the business income amount that would have existed if no direct physical loss or damage had occurred; or

(ii) 30 consecutive days after the date determined in (1)(a) above.



If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

Homeowners Beware: A Tree Falling On Your Roof Is Different Than A Tree Falling In Your Yard

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When windstorms hit the leafy neighborhoods of Boston’s MetroWest suburbs, we go to work. Last month’s big winds took down a lot of trees, and homeowners had several questions about their insurance coverage and possible solutions.

Here are some of the top tips we shared with these homeowners:

Take a look at your homeowner’s insurance policy – it’s likely the standard HO-3 policy, with whatever endorsements and deductibles you elected to include in the most recent renewal discussion with your insurance agent.

There are two issues with a tree that has fallen on your house: 1. Getting the tree off your house; and 2. Disposing of the tree once it’s on the ground.

Your HO-3 should provide coverage for virtually any reasonable expense related to taking the tree off the structure and getting it to the ground.  Once it’s on the ground, however, coverage for removal stops.  Now you’re looking at “debris removal” coverage to dispose of the on-the-ground tree.

Your policy likely only covers $1,000 total for such debris removal.  It’s important to note that that $1,000 covers the total cost of removing all trees that are on the ground – regardless of how many there are.  We recently had a homeowner call us with 25 fallen trees on the ground, and tree removal services were looking to charge $500 per tree for removal.

That quickly becomes a big number.

If you have trees on your house or in your yard, give Swerling Milton Winnick a call.  We can help you maximize your coverage for such events.

 


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

Consumer Reports (and Diane Swerling) Say: Get a Public Adjuster!

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Diane Swerling recently had a chance to share her thoughts on what flood victims can do to deal with insurance companies when they suffer a flood-related property loss.  Consumer Reports produced a piece on the recent historic flooding in the Midwest that left rivers swollen and levees breached.  With both the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers threatening to continue flooding, CR turned to Diane as a national claims expert to advise what homeowners and renters can do to minimize the challenges of dealing with insurance companies.

In a March 20 article, CR provided 3 key tips for homeowners to follow in order to get everything they’re entitled to from their insurance companies.  In addition to prompt communication and vigilance with the insurance adjuster, CR recommended that people consider hiring a public insurance adjuster.  And to provide commentary on this key piece of advice, CR sought Diane’s insights to help their readers understand the importance of hiring the right expert.

To read the 3/20/19 article in Consumer Reports, please click here.


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

If You Have a "Hall of Claims" Event, You Might Not Have Coverage At All

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by Bryan Holtzman

JK Simmons, we love you – but those TV commercials are going to drive us crazy!

You know the ones: a national insurance carrier depicts an outrageous, catastrophic property loss.  A dog starts a fire by playing with laundry detergent, for example.  Or a mountain lion drags its claws extensively over a homeowner’s property - stuff that basically NEVER happens.  And what does JK have to say?

“We covered it.”

For the TV-viewing public, the idea is that this insurance carrier will cover anything – any remotely imaginable scenario that may befall your property will get reimbursed through your insurance policy.

Why does this drive us crazy?  Because it’s not true!

How is it misleading?  Very simply: exclusions.

If you look at a standard homeowner’s insurance policy, it will contain various exclusions for damage caused by random incidents – whether by animals, Mother Nature or homeowner carelessness.  Typical policy language might stipulate that the insurer will not cover damage caused by:

“birds, rodents, insects, or vermin. Vermin means animals that tend to access, or enter into or under, structures for foraging or shelter, and, as a result, cause loss or damage. Such animals include, but are not limited to, armadillos, bats, beavers, coyotes, lizards, opossums, porcupines, raccoons, skunks, snails, snakes, slugs, or squirrels.”

The above definition of “vermin” is telling – and explains our frustration with JK Simmons and his ads.  It’s true that Farmers Insurance did indeed cover the loss for the events depicted in its “Hall of Claims” ads – but they probably only did so once or twice.  After that, their lawyers no doubt updated all of their policies to ensure that such events were thereafter included in a policy exclusion or limitation so that similar events would then trigger a denial of coverage.

When events occur a few times, insurance companies will clarify wording in policies to exclude such events.  Attorneys crafting this language for insurers will add wording explaining specifics as to what, for example, is included in the definition of “vermin” for coverage purposes.

So, keep right on lovin’ JK and his fine work as the Farmers spokesman.  But recognize that insurance companies don’t just hand out checks every time you have a property loss.  Insurers won’t always tell you that – but a public adjuster will!


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Bryan Holtzman

Bryan is Vice President of Swerling Milton Winnick, and has more than 15 years of experience helping businesses and homeowners navigate complex insurance claims. He specializes in building estimates and policy interpretation.  


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

Homeowners Beware: the insurance company’s adjuster might miss the extent of your property damage

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Check out this great feature by Fox43 TV in York County, PA.  Jackie De Tore from their crack investigative team examined a bad faith partial claim denial by the Erie Insurance Group (EIG).  It seems virtually every house in a crowded subdivision of identical houses suffered similar roof damage from a powerful hail storm.  Only ONE homeowner – the one with an insurance policy provided by EIG – had the portion of his claim that would have fixed his roof denied.

Huh?

Turns out EIG sent out a not-so-observant insurance adjuster to examine this homeowner’s roof. The adjuster supposedly scrutinized the damage and insisted it didn’t require extensive repairs. So EIG denied the portion of his claim that sought a new roof – even though the claim was supported by two separate estimates from independent contractors agreeing that the homeowner absolutely needed a new roof.

This adds up to bad faith on the part of EIG – so much so that the homeowner threatened to sue and formally complain to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.

If you live in Massachusetts and you think an insurance company is acting in bad faith – including, for example, denying your valid claim despite compelling facts being in your favor – you can file a complaint with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Insurance.  To access the Mass. Division of Insurance web page for complaints, please click here.

Or: you can hire a public adjuster (PA) to manage your claims.  Unlike insurance adjusters, PAs don’t work for the insurance carrier – they work for you.  A good PA can manage every aspect of your claim recovery and push back immediately on any bad faith efforts by the insurance company.

Should you need assistance with submitting a claim, contact us at info@swerling.com.


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

Homeowners Beware: Protect Yourself from Dryer Fires

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Click here to read @GeorgeGraham413’s MassLive article about an overheated dryer that caused Wednesday morning’s house fire in Springfield.

Are you aware of the danger your dryer could pose to your home and family?  We at Swerling Milton Winnick are currently navigating a similar loss – a fire that originated from a homeowner placing pillows in their dryer.  This caused a huge fire and significant damage to their home.  You can help protect yourself by:

1.      Talking to your insurance agent to make sure you have enough coverage in your homeowner’s policy should you suffer such a loss; and

2.      Helping to prevent a loss by refraining from putting flammable household items in your dryer, such as pillows and rubber-backed floor mats.

Should you need assistance with submitting a claim, contact us at info@swerling.com.


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

Boston Globe quotes SMW's Bryan Holtzman in article on raccoon damage to Milton home

When we warn our clients about the top reasons insurance companies use to deny claims submitted by homeowners, we rarely include “vermin damage” on the list.  When denying homeowner claims, insurance companies are most likely to point to more conventional reasons than damage caused by raccoons. These would include water seepage, wear and tear, problems happening over a period of time, and failure to maintain heat.

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But raccoon damage is definitely a thing.  And when it happens, homeowners are often denied coverage.  In fact, The Boston Globe recently reported on homeowners who faced an exclusion for damage caused by animals.  Based on that exclusion, the insurance company denied coverage for damage totaling more than $80,000.

To provide expert commentary on the issue, the Globe turned to SMW’s very own Bryan Holtzman.  In his role as vice president and claims manager for SMW, Bryan has seen several instances of insurance companies denying claims based on damage from “vermin” – that is, ‘animals that tend to access, or enter into or under, structures for foraging or shelter, and, as a result, cause loss or damage.  Such animals include, but are not limited to, armadillos, bats, beavers, coyotes, lizards, opossums, porcupines, raccoons, skunks, snails, snakes, slugs, or squirrels.’

Bryan pointed out that damage from wild animals, or vermin, is actually fairly common.  It’s so common, in fact, that over the years insurance companies have clarified wording in policies.

To read the entire Globe article, please click here.


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

"I came over the hill and everything was in flames"

We recently had a visit from Christopher A. Hauck D.C., owner of Framingham based Chiropractic Solutions.  Chris is a former client and a really great guy, and we recently sat down with him to get an update about the success of his business after SMW helped him recover from a devastating fire.  The discussion brought back a lot of memories, and it reminded us of how important our work can be for small businesses that experience catastrophic events.

Chris experienced the nightmare scenario of any small business owner: the phone call in the middle of the night, the mad dash to his office, and the view of his entire operation literally going up in flames.

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 For Chris and his wife, it was already an incredibly stressful time.  The IRS was auditing him due to an anomaly from a previous filing, and he was undergoing a routine chiropractic board audit.  Add to that the time spent caring for a rambunctious 2-year-old and the sleeplessness of tending to an 8-week-old baby - life was crazy before the fire!

The fire originated from wiring done by non-permitted electricians in an abutting office.  A ceiling fan caused a spark in an open cavity, and the flames grew once they gained exposure to the windy conditions outside.  At 2:34 a.m., Chris received a voicemail message from a client: “Dude, your whole office plaza just burnt down…I know you just had the baby…So sorry. Love you. Bye.”

 Luckily for Chris, he had up-to-date insurance.  The first thing he did that morning – with his office still smoldering – was call his insurance agent.  He confirmed that Chris had coverage and explained what was covered by his policy.

Chris also had clients to think about.  He met with his employees the following morning and commenced the search for new office space.  Within a week he was again seeing clients in a loaner space using borrowed equipment.

Then he met with the adjuster from his insurance company.  “He wasn’t a good listener,” Chris recalls diplomatically, “which made me think I should get a public adjuster.”  Chris’s insurance agent actually advised against a public adjuster, expressing concern about the contingency fee.  It was Chris’s accountant who had used Paul Winnick and his staff for their own claim, and strongly recommended that he talk to Paul and his staff.

Chris’s #1 focus after the fire was signing a new lease.  He needed a new home for his business, which involved real estate shopping and then negotiating the lease.  SMW convinced the insurance adjuster to approve the temporary relocation expense. “I didn’t even know it was a thing to have the insurance company pay for the temporary relocation,” he says.

Chris was poised to sign a 5-year lease, but SMW convinced him to consider another option: sign a lease for one year instead, and wait to see what would happen with the building reconstruction.   “It was a leap of faith, and a really hard decision,” Chris says. “But I took SMW’s advice and signed a one-year temporary lease”.

SMW then started the arduous task of compiling the list of damaged personal property to ensure Chris didn’t miss any opportunities due to coverage limitations.  X ray machines, computers, chiropractic tables, supplies, even the improvements he made to the space – SMW documented all of it.

SMW commenced the process of getting his Business Interruption claim underway, and submitted multiple interim claims.  In addition to this assistance, Chris emphasized the value of having SMW engage with the contractors who were doing the temporary build out.  When the claim for the temporary space was being put together, it was helpful that SMW and the contractor worked together to document the cost of construction and explain the nuances of the temporary buildout.

SMW also ensured that payments kept coming.  Chris wasn’t earning steady income from clients, and contractors need to get paid if you want them to keep working.  SMW made sure Chris did not have to pay out of pocket and remained at the top of the insurance company’s attention list – despite being one of their smaller portfolio items.

In parting, Chris offered some advice for other small business owners:

  •  Do not go through the claims process without a public adjuster!

  • It’s really up to you to know what to insure.  Things add up fast, so reassess your coverage routinely and make sure you have enough coverage.

  • Insurance companies are hard to deal with. You can’t win a game when you don’t know all the rules.

 SMW is proud to have played a role in helping Chris and his wife return their focus to the demands of a young family and a growing business.  Chris himself calls the support he received from SMW “a life changer”.

 Read a letter from Chris highlighting his experience here:

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If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

Diane Swerling Presents on MCLE Panel

Victoria Santoro Mair, Esq., Diane Swerling, SPPA, and Brian Jerome, Esq.

Victoria Santoro Mair, Esq., Diane Swerling, SPPA, and Brian Jerome, Esq.

How do insurance companies settle cases? A room full of practicing attorneys had the same question, and for an answer they turned to Swerling Milton Winnick’s very own Diane Swerling.

Diane participated on a panel on December 6th hosted by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE).  She provided key insurance claims information to attorneys looking to brush up on their skills. Diane gave participating MCLE members an overview of the claims process, the important players involved, and various settlement insights. Based on her 20+ years as a public adjuster managing complex insurance claims for both commercial and residential clients, Diane was able to share her thoughts on how to optimize the claims process and avoid missteps.

 SMW was proud to support MCLE in helping practicing attorneys learn the ins and outs of settlements involving insurance companies – they should be ready for their next case!

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If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

What Community Association Boards and Managers Need to Know When Dealing with a Loss

SMW’s Diane Swerling is the author of this informative article featured in the most recent edition of Condo Media Magazine.

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If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

Small Business and Retail Coverage You Should Consider this Holiday Season

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If you’re the owner of a small business, Black Friday is a critical profit-making day that looms on your calendar all year long. You prepare everything in your store to maximize this chance to generate sales and spike your revenue enough to put you “in the black” for the year. You double up on your normal inventory levels, staff up on sales associates, and get ready to move some serious product.

But what if something goes wrong? Are you protected?

Suppose all this inventory – twice the amount you usually carry – gets completely ruined. Maybe a faulty sprinkler goes off after hours and sprays the storeroom all night long, or someone leaves a window open and the season’s first blizzard blows in. Whatever the catastrophic event, you’ve stretched yourself way too thin stocking up, and now the entire storeroom full of holiday inventory is useless.

Seasonal Increase Endorsement

You and your spouse own the building and have a standard business owner’s policy (BOP) on the retail store. This policy covers your typical inventory levels, but not the 2X levels you bumped them up to in anticipation of Black Friday. There is an inflation guard under your Personal Property coverage section - usually 4 percent per year. And there’s also a seasonal increase, but it’s tiny – only about 10 percent.  It’s not nearly enough to cover all the inventory that stands ruined in your storeroom.

The lesson from this scenario: endorse your BOP for additional “seasonal increase” coverage. You can add this endorsement for the one uptick a year at holiday-time. It gives you coverage for catastrophic events like the one described above, and it has an appealing benefit: you don’t have to pay a higher limit all year long to get this one-time increase.

Selling Price Endorsement

Even if you selected the Seasonal Increase endorsement, there is more you should do to protect yourself and your business. If your inventory is ruined, as described above, your standard BOP will require you to provide all kinds of sales data to prove what you would have sold during Black Friday. This data is based on past performance and requires a detailed analysis to put you back in the position you would have enjoyed.

Well, what if you could find a buyer for all that ruined inventory? Guess what: the insurance company can be that buyer.

This can happen only if you endorse your policy to value your inventory at selling price, rather than at cost (which is what you will get under the typical BOP). With this Selling Price Endorsement in your BOP, the insurance company will pay you as if they were the customer for that damaged inventory.

So, not only does the insurance company pay you for the cost of your damaged inventory, it also pays you for the PROFIT you would have earned from successfully selling that inventory.

Pretty good, huh?

The Selling Price Endorsement buys you time – time you would have spent assembling a business interruption claim.  You can now use that time to get your store back open, resume operations, and begin selling again – and you won’t have to sit around worrying about reconstruction and length of time for repairs.

If your small business amps up for the holiday shopping season, think about what kind of coverage you have to protect you against catastrophic events. Call us at SMW to get some advice – we’re happy to help!


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

What is "Civil Authority" Coverage?

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The little known “Civil Authority” provision has received much attention of late – especially in connection with the Sept. 13 gas explosions in Lawrence, Mass. This critically important coverage provision is designed specifically for situations where people are forced out by police, fire or inspection services – or any similar “Authority” – due to a catastrophic emergency.

What exactly is Civil Authority coverage?  It’s a provision within most insurance policies. 

Here is an example of the language you will find in a standard homeowner’s policy:

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Note the language regarding the Civil Authority Prohibits Use section.  Your residence must be one of the neighboring premises and those premises must be damaged by a Peril Insured Against, such as fire or explosion.   Therefore, if you are unable to enter your home because of the recent gas explosions that occurred in Lowell, Andover and Lawrence, this coverage would only apply if one of the damaged properties was a neighbor of yours.  If your residence was not one of the neighboring premises to a home that had a fire or an explosion, then the coverage would not apply.

We have been made aware that a few insurance companies are allowing their policyholders to file for this coverage, even though they are not located next to neighboring premises that were directly damaged due to an explosion or fire.  These insurers are going above and beyond for their clients and providing coverage that really does not exist under the insurance contract.

Commercial Property Coverage Form (CP)

The Business Income (and Extra Expense) Coverage Form CP 00 30

Civil Authority coverage in Commercial and Business policies is completely different from Civil Authority coverage in homeowner’s policies.  The language reads in part, “We will pay for the actual loss of Business Income you sustain and necessary Extra Expense caused by action of civil authority that prohibits access to the described premises due to direct physical loss of or damage to property, other than at the described premises, caused by or resulting from any Covered Cause of Loss.”

You will note that in the Commercial policy (CP 00 30), the qualifying language for coverage is not related to the distance the business is from the direct damage - only that the business cannot be accessed, and that an authority having jurisdiction does not allow the property to be occupied or opened.

The coverage starts 72 hours after the direct damage occurs and the coverage is for a maximum of 3 consecutive weeks. 

An example of this coverage took place during the marathon bombings.  Several businesses near the event were shut down even though they had no direct physical damage to their locations.  The authorities cordoned off streets and did not allow businesses to open for several days, even weeks.  These businesses that were closed solely due to the closing of the streets would have been able to collect their loss of business income for a period of up to 3 weeks.

Businessowners Coverage Form (BOP)

If your business has a Businessowners policy as opposed to a Commercial Package policy, then the Civil Authority coverage has some minor differences.  First, the described premises must be located within one mile of the damaged location.   Secondly, while there is a 72-hour deductible (just like the CPP), the coverage duration is for up to 4 weeks and not 3.   

What is covered?

In the homeowner’s policy, Civil Authority coverage is for loss of rents, fair rental value and additional living expenses (i.e. hotel, food).  For business and commercial policies, it is for business interruption and extra expense.

Please be advised that the policies quoted above are specific policies and the verbiage in several policies can be different.  If you have specific questions about this coverage, SMW will gladly review your individual policy and make recommendations.  We can be reached at 781-416-1000


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

Diane Swerling Provides Post-Hurricane Advice for Consumer Reports Readers

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When Hurricane Michael ripped through the Florida panhandle last month, it left a trail of wreckage that carried all the way to the Carolinas and Virginia.  In its wake, homeowners and renters from Miami to Newport News faced the daunting task of picking up the pieces and starting the long process of responding to a natural disaster.

Recognizing the many challenges faced by storm ravaged residents, Consumer Reports recently produced a helpful article outlining the proper steps homeowners and renters should take to get the most out of their insurance coverage.  After all, submitting insurance claims becomes a central focus for anyone impacted by a hurricane or other catastrophe.

According to CR’s article, hiring a public adjuster is one of the critical steps policyholders should consider.  For first-hand expertise on the value and benefits of having a public adjuster, CR turned to none other than Diane Swerling.  As a Vice President and Principal at Swerling Milton Winnick Public Insurance Adjusters, Inc., Diane helps business, home and resort owners, condominium complexes, hotels and others recover after every type of major catastrophic event - including hurricanes.

Diane advised CR readers to check the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters as a first step in finding a public adjuster.  She explained that, upon making contact, policyholders should insist on getting references from past clients, make sure they have several years of experience as a public adjuster, and verify that they have a state license where required.  In the five states where no licensing is required—Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota, and Wisconsin—insureds should contact an attorney who works with catastrophe victims to help them find a reputable adjuster.  She also provided insights on the ins and outs of standard flood policies.

To read the full text of the Consumer Reports article, please click here.

After major hurricanes like Hurricane Michael, clients with complex losses can rely on Swerling Milton Winnick to support them with decades of post-hurricane experience.  To hear directly from our clients about how Swerling helps after hurricanes and other storms, please visit our testimonials.

 Call Diane Swerling or Paul Winnick– we are ready to work with you on the road to recovery.


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

SMW is Proud to Support Save the Children as it hosts its First Boston Event

One of the areas that unites the entire Swerling Milton Winnick team is giving back. That’s why we’re proud to support Save the Children, an international non-governmental organization that promotes children's rights, provides relief, and helps support children in developing countries.

In addition to investing in the promise of education for children of war and conflict, we value the chance to interact with the organization whenever we get the chance. On Nov. 2, we had a great opportunity to do just that.

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Save the Children sponsored a wonderful event at the Downtown Harvard Club. It featured Cokie Roberts and other notable speakers who share the goal of aiding girls and boys fleeing unfathomable horrors around the world. Janet Wu, an Emmy Award winning political journalist and investigative reporter and co-host of WCVB’s “On the Record,” hosted the event while Ms. Roberts, a senior analyst for NPR and ABC News, Emmy Award winning journalist and author of six New York Times bestsellers, moderated a round table discussion on The Promise of Educating Refugee Children. The discussion featured child advocates Mary Mendenhall, associate professor at Teachers College Columbia University, and Dan Stoner, vice president for education and child protection at Save the Children.

We also enjoyed the live music! Thank you, Save the Children, for the wonderful work you do. Thanks for having us – proud to work with you!

 


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

The Top 3 Most Denied Property Loss Claims

As public adjusters, we negotiate with insurance companies every day.  We see firsthand the reasons they cite for denying claims by policyholders – both homeowners and businesses.  To help you position yourself for a successful claim process, we compiled the top reasons insurance companies cite for denying a claim.

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 1.  Water seepage

Seepage of groundwater into your house is NOT a covered event in a standard homeowners policy.  In your homeowners policy, the language is very clear: once rainwater hits the ground, it’s considered surface water or groundwater.  This means that if water seeps through your foundation, you have no coverage AT ALL.  On the other hand, if there’s a heavy rain and water seeps in through walls that are above grade, you will have coverage for that (NOTE: this is only true for an all-risk homeowners policy).  

Both the Business Owners and the Commercial Property policies contain this exclusion for seepage and groundwater.  But there is a key difference – in a commercial application, for any interior water damage to be covered, the roof or the exterior of the building must first be damaged by a covered cause of loss.  So, the roof must first be damaged.  Say there is a windstorm and a fallen tree slices your rubber roof.  If the windstorm lifts a section of that damaged roof and allows water into the envelope, that’s a covered event.  Rainwater seeping into a building around a door or window is not a covered loss in a commercial policy.

2.  Frozen pipe vs. burst pipe

In general, water damage from a burst pipe will always be covered under both a homeowners and commercial insurance policy.  Things can get tricky, however, when frozen pipes are involved.  For the most part, frozen pipes will NOT be covered, unless you can demonstrate that you maintained adequate heat.  Which brings us to…

3. Failure to maintain heat

Most insurance policies -- both homeowners and commercial – require that you take “reasonable care” to maintain heat in the building or house, or that you “shut off the water supply and drain all systems and appliances of water.”

If you are away on vacation and your pipes freeze – but you left your heat at a reasonable temperature and the boiler failed – your loss will be covered.  But if you were late for that flight to Florida and forgot to leave any heat on, your insurer can refuse to cover the loss.

Please note that these tips are based on standard homeowners insurance policies.  It is very important for you to read your individual policy as forms vary drastically.  Should you want SMW to review your policy, please contact us to discuss.

Be sure to check back for valuable tips and information.  And if you need assistance in resolving an insurance claim, call Swerling Milton Winnick. 


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.

Swerling Milton Winnick Public Insurance Adjusters, Inc. Leadership Members Accept Officer Positions with MAPIA

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Hats off to Swerling Milton Winnick’s very own Diane Swerling and Mindi Labella, who recently had the honor of being appointed to officer positions with the Massachusetts Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (MAPIA), the state organization charged with representing professional public insurance adjusters throughout Massachusetts. Diane will assume the role of MAPIA Vice President, while Mindi will serve as MAPIA’s Treasurer.

Both Diane and Mindi have committed to serving one-year terms in these statewide leadership positions. Diane has previously served as Treasurer of MAPIA, and as President of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA), the national organization representing public insurance adjusters. Diane also served as a member of the NAPIA Board of Directors from 2016-2018.

The appointments were announced at MAPIA’s annual meeting and education seminar, held on September 27 at the Boston Marriott.

During the seminar portion of the meeting, MAPIA members had an interactive session led by attorneys Tony Antonellis, Chris Reilly and Brendan Labbe of Sloane and Walsh LLP, one of New England’s leading litigation law firms. Attorneys Antonellis, Reilly, and Labbe provided property insurance law updates such as maintaining heat, examinations under oath, proofs of loss, collapse, reference, BI/EE claims, subrogation, and much more.

The entire Swerling Milton Winnick team congratulates Diane and Mindi on this hard-earned recognition. We’re looking forward to a very productive year for MAPIA!


If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.