Understanding the Basics of The Insurance Claim Process

After experiencing a loss that is covered by your homeowners policy, a request is sent to the insurance company for compensation to restore the damage. This request, known as an insurance claim, can be anything from a fire damage insurance claim in South Dakota to a storm damage insurance claim in Wisconsin. Once the claim is filed, the insurance company will begin the process of determining the scope of the damage and how much money is required to pay for the repairs.

Here are a few tips to help the process go as smoothly as possible.

FILE YOUR CLAIM QUICKLY

The timeline from the start of the claims process to the settlement phase can vary based on the type and size of the claim. Reporting the damage right away is an important step to take to help get the process moving as quickly as possible. If you’re filing a claim due to hail damage or storm damage, odds are good that your neighbors may be experiencing similar damages. That’s why submitting your claim in a timely manner is advisable to ensure you end up toward the front of the line. Typically, homeowners are required to file a claim within one year of the loss, though that can vary based on the state you live in and your insurance company.

DOCUMENT THE DAMAGE

Before cleaning up anything, make sure you document the damage through pictures and videos to convey the full extent of your loss. You can never take too many photos, so go ahead and snap from multiple angles and be thorough. The more information and evidence you can provide to the insurer, the better.

MAKE EMERGENCY REPAIRS IF NECESSARY

Typically, homeowners are advised not to make any repairs after a loss in order for the adjuster to accurately assess the situation. But that doesn’t mean you have to live with a gaping hole in your window after a hailstorm busts out the glass. Keeping your family and belongings safe is of the utmost importance, so if you need to put up some plywood, do it. Just be sure to keep the receipts and to document the necessity of the repairs so you can submit the expenses to your insurance company as part of the claim.

COMMUNICATE WITH THE INSURANCE ADJUSTER

Your insurance company will send out an adjuster to evaluate the loss. This is a crucial part of the process, because it’s the adjuster’s job to determine how much the insurance company is going to compensate you for the damages. If you choose to rely on the insurance company’s adjuster, it’s advisable to be present during their inspection of your property. But it’s important to be aware that the insurance company’s adjuster will first and foremost have the company’s best interests at heart rather than your own. Hiring a public insurance adjuster puts somebody in your corner to advocate on your behalf.

REVIEW THE SETTLEMENT OFFER

Once the insurance adjuster sends in their final report, the insurance company will provide you with a settlement offer. Make sure you closely review the offer before accepting, because once you do, your claim will be closed. If you feel the amount should be higher, you can dispute it and request another review. Once you’ve agreed upon a settlement amount, you can finally move forward with the repair process.

HIRE A PUBLIC ADJUSTER FROM THE START

The insurance claims process can be stressful. From filing the paperwork to documenting the damage to negotiating with the insurance company, there’s a lot to think about. Having a public insurance adjuster on your side from the very beginning can ease the burden and may ultimately result in a higher settlement amount.

ABOUT K-FACTOR ADVOCATES

K-Factor Advocates is a public adjusting firm that specializes in insurance claim negotiation, policy language and interpretation, and claims estimating. K-Factor’s team of public adjusters work on behalf of the policyholder. Coverage areas include Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota and Michigan.

Top 10 Reasons Why You Need K-Factor Advocates as Your Public Adjuster

When you’re faced with a loss, the last thing you want to deal with is the added stress of an insurance claim. From interpreting the complexities of your homeowners policy to going back and forth with your insurance company, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks. Not everyone is an insurance expert, and nobody should have to settle for less than what they deserve just because they’re not up-to-date on the intricacies of the insurance claim process.

That’s where K-Factor Advocates comes into play. As a public insurance adjuster, we work for the insured, not the insurer, so you can be sure we’ll have your best interests in mind throughout the claims process. Here are the top 10 reasons you should consider hiring K-Factor Advocates as your public adjuster:

1. WE’LL MAKE SURE YOU GET PAID WHAT YOU’RE OWED

Your insurance company will send out their own adjuster to represent their interests. Relying on their adjuster is akin to having the IRS file your taxes. As your public adjuster, we work for you and will make sure all the files are correct and you’re fully indemnified for your loss. Our team has years of experience in the construction and insurance industries, so we’ll be sure nothing falls through the cracks.

2. WE DON’T GET PAID UNLESS YOU DO

We don’t want to waste your hard-earned time or money, which is why we only get paid if you do. We work 100 percent on contingency, so if we don’t settle your claim, you don’t owe us a dime. By hiring our team to help you through the process, there’s little to lose and a lot to gain. Our team has a great track record of securing our clients higher settlement amounts than originally estimated by the insurance company.

3. WE WILL COMMUNICATE WITH YOU

We’ve interpreted hundreds of homeowners insurance policies and understand the technical insurance terms riddled throughout the insurance claim paperwork. We’ll help you understand what you’re facing in clear, understandable terms.

4. WE WILL EXPEDITE YOUR CLAIM

Our team will handle your claim in a timely manner, handling everything from start to finish as quickly as possible in order to get your life back to normal.

5. WE WILL HELP ARRANGE FOR ALL YOUR ADDITIONAL LIVING EXPENSES

After a disaster, you shouldn’t have to worry about where you’re going to stay. If your property is severely damaged, we’ll help you make arrangements to ensure your temporary accommodations are covered.

6. YOUR TOTAL CONTENT INVENTORY WILL BE CONSIDERED

Don’t let your high-end content be replaced with a discount version. We understand that your artwork, collectibles and valuable items are important to you, and proper valuation of those items is crucial in ensuring accurate compensation. Our experienced team will help you restore your lost or damaged valuables to the fullest extent possible.

7. WE HAVE CONNECTIONS THROUGHOUT THE INDUSTRY

Our team has cultivated relationships with major players in the construction, engineering and legal fields. We don’t cut corners, and with a group of highly responsive industry professionals just a call away, you can rest easy that our team will collect every facet of information required to accurately settle your claim.

8. WE’LL HANDLE ALL THE PAPERWORK

Did you know that the average insurance claim has hundreds of pages to thumb through? We’ll help take the load off by handling all the paperwork throughout the claims process.

9. WE CARE ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE GOING THROUGH

We’ve helped many clients in similar situations, so we know it is a stressful, burdensome process. As a family company, we understand the importance of providing a safe environment for your loved ones. We’ll work tirelessly to ensure your property is restored and you’re not taken advantage of by the insurance company.

10. WE’RE A LOCAL BUSINESS

We live here and understand the complexities of living in the Mountain West. Don’t trust somebody who will be here one day and gone the next. At the end of the day, we’re still your neighbors.

ABOUT K-FACTOR ADVOCATES

K-Factor Advocates is a public adjusting firm that specializes in insurance claim negotiation, policy language and interpretation, and claims estimating. K-Factor’s team of public adjusters work on behalf of the policyholder. Coverage areas include Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota and Michigan.

Different Types of Roofing Materials and Their Value

Replacing your roof may not be the most exciting task, but a new roof can not only improve on your home’s curb appeal, but can seal out moisture and protect your home and belongings. There are many varieties of roofing material you can choose from, so before simply replacing your current material, do a little bit of research and find the one that works best for your home without breaking your budget.

When choosing the type of roofing material, it’s important to take a few key components into consideration, such as cost, appearance, longevity and weight. You may want to factor in the climate your property is in as well, as excessive snow loads or consistent rain may sway your decision.

Here are 4 roofing materials to consider for your property.

1. ASPHALT SHINGLES

The most common form of residential roofing material in the U.S., asphalt shingles are made from a fiberglass base, asphalt and mineral granules. Asphalt shingles are one of the most cost-effective materials to use, come in a variety of colors and are easy to install. However, they don’t offer the insulation some other roofing materials do, and often have a shorter life span. But, if they’re properly installed, you’re still likely to get a good 20-25 years out of them.

2. METAL

Metal roofs are lightweight and resistant to extreme weather, and they can last from 40-75 years. The reflective nature of metal roofing helps keep your home cooler by reflecting heat from the sun, rather than absorbing it as asphalt shingles do. But metal roofing can be fairly expensive. It can also be dented by things such as hail and fallen branches and is noisier than other roofing materials.

3. WOOD SHAKES OR SHINGLES

Wood shingles or shakes, often made from cedar, southern pine and redwood, are a natural product that create an attractive, rustic appearance. Because wood is a poor conductor of heat, wood shakes or shingles are good at insulating your home, and they’re fairly resistant to wind damage. Wood roofs cost more to install, though, and because they’re flammable, wood roofing material is not recommended in wildfire-prone regions. Wood shakes and shingles typically last around 25-30 years.

4. CLAY AND CONCRETE TILES

Clay tiles add an air of elegance to a roof, and their textured look is great for curb appeal. Clay and concrete tiles are very durable but, unsurprisingly, very heavy. They’re also fire resistant, impact resistant and wind resistant, and a clay tile roof can last anywhere from 50 to 100 years when properly installed. The heavy nature of the tiles is great at protecting your home from extreme weather, but you’ll want to ensure the structure you’re placing them on is strong enough to support the weight. They’re also more expensive than other roofing materials, and installation is more technical, so it’s important to hire a qualified professional to install the tiles. Clay and concrete tiles are only suitable for sloped roofs.

IF YOU HAVE ROOF DAMAGE

If you’ve experienced roof damage in Montana, or another state in K-Factor Advocates’ coverage area, our team of public insurance adjusters wants to help. Your roof is one of the most important components of your home, so taking care of it is crucial.

ABOUT K-FACTOR ADVOCATES

K-Factor Advocates is a public adjusting firm that specializes in insurance claim negotiation, policy language and interpretation, and claims estimating. K-Factor’s team of public adjusters work on behalf of the policyholder. Coverage areas include Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

Damage Caused By Pests Typically Not Covered By Homeowners Insurance

Dealing with pests is a particularly unwelcome part of homeownership. Immediate, defensive action is important if you experience an infestation, because most homeowner’s insurance policies will not provide coverage from damage caused by critters. But the best way to avoid the situation altogether is to go on the offense, preventing pest problems before they happen. Being proactive in keeping pests and rodents from infiltrating your home will likely save you a huge headache and loads of cash. There are a number of measures that can be taken to wipe out conditions appealing to pests both inside and outside of your home.

SEAL ANY GAPS OR CRACKS

Pests can make their way in through any small gaps or crevices in your home. Small gaps around electrical lines and pipes provide the perfect opportunity for pests to wiggle their way into your living space, so sealing up any of these openings can prevent the unwelcome visitors. Be sure to inspect your doors and windows as well, and repair any torn window screens.

DISPOSE OF TRASH PROPERLY

Many pests are naturally attracted to rubbish. Ants and rodents view household waste as a food source, so properly disposing of both household garbage and yard waste is an important step to take in combatting these critters. Invest in trash cans with tight-fitting lids, and be sure to clean up any spills or debris that may collect underneath them. In your yard, clippings from plants, dead plant material and standing water are all attractive to bugs, creating environments that allow them to thrive.

USE BUG LIGHT BULBS

The phrase “like a moth to a flame” infers that moths are attracted to light. The same goes for many insects, and placing a standard lightbulb in the sconce on your front porch creates a beacon that will attract swarms of these positively phototatic insects. The simple task of installing a yellow LED bug light bulb will attract fewer bugs, making your home less visible to most flying insects.

BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT YOUR LANDSCAPING

Using mulch in your landscaping can provide a suitable environment for pests to shelter in. Using an alternate material that is less attractive to pests, such as rocks, may cut back on the intruders. Trimming overhanging tree branches or bushes that touch your foundation can also cut off a bridge that insects can use to enter your home.

USE SEALED CONTAINERS TO STORE FOOD

Dry food, such as crackers and cereal, often come in containers that aren’t able to tightly reseal once opened. But transferring these opened foods to a sealed container will not only keep them fresher, it will prevent pests from sniffing them out and invading your pantry. Rodents have a particularly keen sense of smell, so properly storing any leftover food is important in order to evade their impressive olfactory abilities.

CLEAN YOUR HOME REGULARLY

Crumbs can provide a potential food source for pests, so vacuuming and sweeping on a regular basis will eliminate the buffet line. Mopping any sticky areas and keeping your sink free of dirty dishes will also disturb a pest’s search for a home. Regular cleaning may also shed light on any possible entrance points for insects and pests.

MAKE SURE GUTTERS ARE WORKING PROPERLY

Some pests, such as dampwood termites, are attracted to moisture, so keep water away from your home by ensuring your gutters are in good working order. Blocked gutters can cause water to pool up around the edges of your roof, potentially drawing in pests and causing water damage. The rainwater may also spill over the side of your gutters, leaking into your foundation, which could lead to the potential for basement flooding and subsequent mold damage. To avoid the possibility of a termite infestation or having to file a water damage insurance claim or a mold damage insurance claim due to clogged gutters, regular maintenance is key.

PUT AWAY PET FOOD AND WATER OVERNIGHT

Pests will search for any source of food they can find, so even if you’ve cleaned your entire kitchen and sealed up any open food, your dog’s food and water bowls can also draw in bugs or pests. If your pets haven’t finished their bowls of food before bedtime, put the remaining food back in its container and dump the water out of the bowl. Be sure to also sweep up any stray pieces of food that have spilled over the side of the bowl. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to remove your pet’s food bowls at night, there are special bowls you can purchase that discourage pests from crawling into your pet’s food and water.

ABOUT K-FACTOR ADVOCATES

K-Factor Advocates is a public adjusting firm that specializes in insurance claim negotiation, policy language and interpretation, and claims estimating. K-Factor’s team of public adjusters work on behalf of the policyholder. Coverage areas include Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

Make the Most Out Of Your Small Space through Organization, Creativity

Clutter happens to the best of us, and in homes with limited square footage, the walls can quickly begin to feel like they’re closing in on you. Decorating and organizing these small spaces can be a challenge, but with some creativity, you can give you home a sense of order and style.

When working with small spaces, organization and functional furnishings are key. While choosing furniture for you home, look for pieces that have storage space built in. Coffee tables with drawers or compartments can store magazines, blankets or any odds and ends you may want easy access to. If you’re in need of a desk but don’t have the room, consider investing in a lift-top coffee table that extends so you can sit comfortably on the couch with your laptop screen at eye level.

An easy way to create the illusion of more room is adding mirrors. Large mirrors reflecting against each other and refracting natural light will make the space appear larger and brighter. Mirrors with unique, textured frames can also add an artistic element to the room. Positioning the mirrors to reflect some of the more interesting elements in the room, such as a large potted plant or a colorful vase, will also create the illusion of added home décor.

Deciding on seating for the living room can feel like a difficult task when there’s not a lot of space to work with. Though sectionals are cozy and cohesive, they tend to fill a lot of space without offering options to easily rearrange. Instead, consider a comfortable sofa or loveseat and add a small accent chair for additional seating. Having some floor pillows on hand to pull out when needed is also an option for more places to sit.

Just like in a metropolitan area, in a small space, think up. Adding in shelving and creative wall storage solutions will help display and store items while saving your much-needed floor space. Hanging desks that fold up are an option if you’re in need of a workspace but don’t have a lot of room. When they’re not being used, the desk portion can fold back into the wall, and the furnishing can also double as a shelving unit.

Keeping the floor clear of clutter is important in small homes. The amount of clutter appears amplified when there isn’t a lot of floor space, and it can detract from even the most beautifully decorated room. If a small room is filled with too much stuff, it can be difficult to know what to focus on, so less is more when it comes to décor. Small spaces with too much stuff may also have a heightened threat of fire damage, as the fire can quickly spread from item to item. Fire damage insurance claims are the most costly homeowner’s insurance claims, accounting for 25% of claims costs, according to ValuePenguin.

Another way to keep the floor clear is by adding in wall sconces or ceiling fixtures for your light sources. This can save the need for an end table, and ample lightning will brighten up the room and make it appear larger. Another way to tricking the eye into seeing a bigger area is by using a large rug. Small rugs will make the room seem small, so using the biggest rug possible for your space can give the appearance of more square footage.

Don’t be afraid to use bold colors and textures. Just because your home is small doesn’t mean you have to be confined to white walls and small, simple decorations. A bold-colored accent wall can add some dimension to the room, and large, textured artwork can create the illusion of a much-larger space. Just be careful not to overwhelm the room with too many large decorations, and include some lighter, neutral colors along with the bold colors to add some balance.

Flowers and greenery are a good way to brighten up your small space, bringing a bit of the outdoors inside your home. Rather than choosing a large floor plant or a potted table plant, try adding hooks to your walls or ceiling and get some hanging planters to maximize your space. If you want to liven up your bathroom, there are a variety of indoor plants that thrive in humid environments. Ferns will flourish in the droplets produced after a hot shower. In small bathrooms, particularly those without windows, a little bit of greenery can make the room feel refreshed.

Limited square footage doesn’t have to hinder your home’s potential for style. With a little bit of design creativity and organization, your small space can truly shine.

ABOUT K-FACTOR ADVOCATES

K-Factor Advocates is a public adjusting firm that specializes in insurance claim negotiation, policy language and interpretation, and claims estimating. K-Factor’s team of public adjusters work on behalf of the policyholder. Coverage areas include Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

Proximity To Fire Stations Can Affect Homeowner’s Insurance Rates

Rural living comes with many benefits. Fresh air, wide-open spaces and less noise are all appealing factors of living in the country. But although rural counties have more firefighters relative to the number of housing units than urban counties do, they’re often more spread out, with only 4.3 firefighters per 100 square miles in the 25% most rural counties in the U.S. Because of this, residents in rural counties typically face higher homeowners insurance rates.

The overall leading cause of fire damage in U.S. homes is unattended cooking, according to the National Fire Protection Association. But in rural areas, heating is one of the main culprits in house fires, and lack of maintenance of these heating elements is often the triggering factor. Because rural homes are more likely to have fixed heaters such as wood stoves, heating plays a larger role in fire problems in these areas. In rural regions in the north, heating is much more likely to be the cause of a house fire than rural regions in the south.

There are many forms of damage that can stem from a house fire. After filing a fire damage insurance claim, a public adjuster may discover smoke and soot damage or water damage. Urban and rural residents alike can experience structure fires, but the proximity to emergency services can affect the amount your insurance company may charge for your policy.

According to an article by ValuePenguin, in the most densely populated counties, there are an average of 18.1 firefighters per 10,000 housing units. In these regions, there are more than eight times the amount of fire stations than rural areas. Urban residents are also much more likely to live near a fire hydrant, better equipping a firefighting team to extinguish a house fire on your property.

For homes that are 25 or more miles away from the nearest fire station, the cost of coverage goes up by about 9% on average in the U.S. Living in a sparsely populated region can come with difficulties when trying to access emergency services, where there’s more area to cover in order to arrive at the scene. On the flipside, in densely populated regions, fire-related emergencies are more likely to spread across city blocks, possibly overwhelming local fire response teams.

Not all states set higher insurance rates for rural customers, however. North Dakota, Michigan, Tennessee, Louisiana, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Hawaii all keep their rates steady no matter how far the resident lives from a fire station.

But the majority of states have some kind of surcharge for properties in areas further from emergency services. The top 5 increases are in the states of Alaska (43%), Pennsylvania (23%), Wyoming (23%), West Virginia (21%), and California (20%). Alaska has an average of 0.15 fire stations per 100 square miles, according to a ValuePenguin analysis.

The states in K-Factor Advocates’ coverage area vary in regards to where they end up in the lineup. Wisconsin implements and average 10% surcharge for some rural residents; Montana averages a 9% surcharge for some rural residents; South Dakota and Idaho both average a 4% surcharge for some rural residents; and North Dakota and Michigan both maintain a 0% increase for some rural residents.

But even though homeowner’s insurance premiums may charge rural residents more for their proximity to emergency services, the cost of living is generally lower. Because land is scarce in urban areas, rent and mortgage costs are often higher. City tax rates also contribute to a higher cost of living for urban residents.

Rural residents are also less likely to spend as much money on eating out and entertainment admission fees, which also cuts into the cost of living. They do, however, tend to spend more money on gasoline and motor oil due to travel distances and the fact that many city dwellers rely on public transportation. But on average, rural life is typically cheaper than urban living, and you’re likely to get more bang for your buck as far as real estate. The price you pay for a spacious, single-family home in a rural area often can cost the same as a much-smaller space in an urban area.

But it all comes down to what is most important to you. If close proximity to dining, shopping, medical offices and entertainment is a priority for you, urban living may be a better fit. But if privacy, wide-open spaces, proximity to nature and a close community is what you’re looking for, rural living may be what you’re after.

The added cost of homeowners insurance probably won’t make a huge difference in the overall way of life for rural residents, but proximity to emergency services may be an important factor for some families to consider when deciding where they should make their home.

ABOUT K-FACTOR ADVOCATES

K-Factor Advocates is a public adjusting firm that specializes in insurance claim negotiation, policy language and interpretation, and claims estimating. K-Factor’s team of public adjusters work on behalf of the policyholder. Coverage areas include Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

Tips for fighting the winter blues

Though the winter season only makes up one-fourth of the entire year, it can sometimes feel as if it drags on forever. Frigid temperatures and limited daylight can also contribute to the “winter blues,” leading to decreased energy and motivation. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a seasonal depression that affects around five percent of adults in the U.S. every year.

Having the winter blues doesn’t necessarily mean you’re suffering from seasonal depression, but it’s safe to say that winter can cause a mood shift in many of us. If you’re feeling lethargic and unmotivated this winter, here are some ideas to try in order to combat those feelings and bring a little bit of light into the cold, dark days of winter.

PAINT A WALL A BRIGHT COLOR

Painting a wall in your home a bright, cheery color can bring a little bit of light and energy into your home. The change may help rejuvenate your mood and break up any monotony you may be feeling.

ADD SOME LIVING PLANTS, FLOWERS

Fragrant flowers and greenery can create an atmosphere that mimics spring and summer. Bright floral arrangements can liven up a room, and having living plants in your home adds a nurturing aspect to your home that you may be missing with the stark of vegetation outside.

USE LIGHT THERAPY, SOOTHING SCENTS

A light therapy lamp can mimic outdoor light. Sitting in front of the lamp for around half an hour every morning can get your day started on a good foot. Soothing, warm-season scents that emit a bright aroma can transport you to the fresh blooms of spring or the warm, salty ocean waves of summer.

GET SOME EXERCISE

When you’re feeling lethargic in the winter, the last thing you probably want to do is exercise. But once you get past that initial feeling and get out there and move, you’ll release endorphins that can relieve stress and boost your mood.

WATCH YOUR DIET

Carbs can feel comforting when you’re feeling down, but that comfort is fleeting and can lead to you feeling even worse. Eating a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is more likely to energize you throughout the day.

TAKE A DRIVE

You may feel like hibernating in your cozy home throughout the winter season, but getting out and about now and then can be good for your mental wellbeing. Taking a drive through the country can get you out of the house while remaining warm in your heated vehicle, and the change of scenery can help curb cabin fever.

MAKE A BOOK LIST

Curling up with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa is a cozy and relaxing way to enjoy the season. Observing the starkness of winter from inside your warm home can make you feel a sense of protection from your dwelling, and absorbing yourself in engaging story can help rejuvenate your mind.

HAVE A GAME NIGHT

Surrounding yourself with positive people while partaking in a fun activity, such as a board game, can curb the loneliness that the winter season can sometimes bring. Making regular plans, such as a bi-weekly or monthly game night, can give you something to look forward to during the season, rather than just counting the days until spring.

START A PROJECT

Winter is the perfect time to work on a home project such as organizing or decluttering. Free up space by getting rid of old clothing and items you no longer use. Clutter, especially in the winter, can make the walls feel as though they are closing in on you. A clean, organized home often brings a sense of refreshment and revitalization.

TRY COOKING NEW DISHES

Food can be comforting, especially in the winter. But rather than just preparing the typical comfort foods you’re used to, try creating a dish you’ve never made before. Branch out and surprise your taste buds by introducing them to a flavor you’ve never tried. It may broaden your flavor palette and lead to your new favorite meal.

ADDRESS ANY POTENTIAL DAMAGE IN YOUR HOME

Winter weather can sometimes result in damage to your property, which certainly won’t help you cope with the winter blues. Addressing any potential issues as soon as possible is the best way to get them fixed in a timely manner. Snow and ice can damage your roof and cause water damage in your home. We may not be able to help you with your winter blues, but we can help if you have damages resulting in a water damage insurance claim.

ABOUT K-FACTOR ADVOCATES

K-Factor Advocates is a public adjusting firm that specializes in insurance claim negotiation, policy language and interpretation, and claims estimating. K-Factor’s team of public adjusters work on behalf of the policyholder. Coverage areas include Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

Why does the U.S. experience so many tornadoes?

The United States experiences more tornadoes than any other country in the world. With an average of 1,150 tornadoes every year, the U.S. produces more twisters than Canada, Australia and all European countries combined.

But what makes the U.S. the perfect landscape for tornadic conditions? Just as you need the right ingredients to make a cake, the right mix of ingredients are required to form a tornado. The U.S. provides these conditions, particularly throughout the Great Plains, the South and the Midwest. Warm, moist air near the ground combined with dry, cool air above, with wind overlapping between the two, create an environment conducive to tornadic conditions.

The topography of the U.S. is unique with its coastal regions, plains and mountainous areas. When the warm, Gulf of Mexico air blows north across the Great Plains, it reaches the cool air that has worked its way from the Rocky Mountains in the west. Tornado alley, which includes Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota, is most commonly associated with twisters. But tornadoes don’t limit themselves to these regions. In fact, some of the most destructive tornadoes have occurred outside these states. The deadliest tornado in U.S. history was March 18, 1925, which tore through three states —Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. There were 695 fatalities.

In more recent news, Western Kentucky experienced a catastrophic EF4 tornado on Dec. 10, 2021, resulting in 77 fatalities and extensive damage to multiple towns. The storm system consisting of multiple tornadoes traveled more than 200 miles across several states in the Southern U.S. and Midwest, beginning in Arkansas and ripping through Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky.

According to an article published in The Washington Post in March 2021, experts are trying to get away from the term “Tornado Alley,” because the area only covers a fraction of the area hit by tornadoes every year. Limiting the term to just these areas can be misleading to residents of the Deep South and the Midwest, where twisters are known to make regular appearances. Tornadoes in the South are often rain-wrapped and more difficult to see coming, especially because they’re more likely to occur at night than tornadoes that occur in the Great Plains. Because of this, fatality rates are more likely to be increased in these areas.

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air capable of wreaking catastrophic damage to anything in its path. Although some areas experience this weather phenomena more than others, tornadoes have been reported in all 50 states. According to the National Weather Service in Milwaukee, Wisconsin experienced 40 tornadoes in 2021, the most since 2010. The state was hit with nine tornadoes on Dec. 15, 2021, alone. On Aug. 18, 2005, 27 tornadoes tore through Wisconsin, resulting in one fatality and multiple injuries.

South Dakota, in the northern portion of the aforementioned “Tornado Alley,” averages roughly 19 tornadoes per year. Though not as common in South Dakota as compared to other states in the Great Plains, twisters have done their fair share of damage to the region. In August of 2021, severe weather including a tornado traveled through southeastern South Dakota, resulting in several downed trees and roof damage to some homes.

To stay safe in the event of a tornado, you should have an emergency plan in place ahead of time. Keeping an emergency kit on hand, including water, nonperishable food and medication, is a good idea in case the inclement weather continues for an extended period of time. Make sure you have a flashlight, batteries and a battery-operated radio to keep tabs on the emergency weather information. To shelter during a storm, make sure you stay away from windows and remain on the lowest floor of your home in a centrally located area. If you’re in a mobile home, find a nearby building to shelter in until the storm passes. It is preferable to find a structure with a basement, but if that’s not a possibility, shelter in a room or hallway without windows in the most central part of the building. Don’t try to outrun a tornado. If you’re in your car and a tornado is coming, get to the nearest sturdy building.

Because a tornado is an intense, destructive vortex of wind, if your home is in the path of a tornado and damaged, a typical homeowners policy should cover wind damage and hail damage caused by the twister. Tornadoes can also cause trees to fall, potentially damaging your home or property in the process. Depending on your policy coverage, damage from fallen trees may or may not be covered. If the tree falls in direct relation to a weather event, it will likely be covered, but if it falls as a result of a maintenance-related issue, it may not be covered.

No matter where you are in the U.S., it’s a good idea to be prepared for the possibility of a tornado. Although more common in some areas than others, even some of the least-hit areas in the U.S. have experienced this natural disaster at some point in history. An unwelcome honor that has been thrust upon us, the U.S. resides at the top of the list of tornadoes recorded every year, so understanding the risk and taking safety precautions is vastly important.

ABOUT K-FACTOR ADVOCATES

K-Factor Advocates is a public adjusting firm that specializes in insurance claim negotiation, policy language and interpretation, and claims estimating. K-Factor’s team of public adjusters work on behalf of the policyholder. Coverage areas include Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

Home Improvement Resolutions For 2022

It’s officially the beginning of 2022, that time of year when resolutions are made (and swiftly broken, sometimes). Health and fitness goals are common objectives to set, but consider making some improvements on your home as well.

New Year resolutions don’t have to be complicated and unattainable. In fact, starting with small, monthly goals is a good way to stay on track. Little by little, month by month, you can start making your home feel brand new and refreshed.

JANUARY

Paint a room. There’s nothing that makes a room feel more refreshed than a new coat of paint. A simple task that can make a huge difference, painting your living room or bathroom a new, splashy color can add some vivacity into your home. As January is typically quite cold and often spent indoors, it’s easy to begin to feel some cabin fever. Revitalizing an area in your home is a good way to break up the monotony.

FEBRUARY

Replace your HVAC filter. A task that should be done roughly every three months, replacing your HVAC filter is important to ensure your unit is working to the best of its ability. Make sure you purchase the correct size filter and shut off your HVAC unit before replacing the old filter. Dating your new filter before installing it is a good way to keep track of how long you’ve had it the next time it needs changing.

MARCH

Organize your bathroom and kitchen cabinets. Cabinet clutter is common, and it’s often pushed aside for other tasks that are more visible. But taking some time to clear out those cabinets and organize their contents is likely to save you time searching for regularly used items. Not to mention the satisfaction you’ll feel opening the cabinet doors and seeing your plates, pans, towels and toiletries arranged neatly on the shelves. Learn some organization tips here.

APRIL

Organize your garage. April showers may keep you from doing a lot of outdoor work, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking some time to organize your garage and its contents. Hanging pegboards to make tools easily accessible and getting small items off the floor by storing them in bins on shelves can help make this space more usable.

MAY

Wash your windows. As the sun begins to shine in May, it’s important to make sure those windows are clean and bright, keeping dust and grime out of the spotlight. Deep cleaning your windows is a simple task that can make a huge difference on the aesthetic of your home, bringing in more natural light and making the focal point of your home bright and sparkling. Learn more about maintaining your windows here.

JUNE

Powerwash your house, driveway. After a long winter and rainy spring, powerwashing your house is a good way to wash away dirt and grime from your siding, sidewalk and driveway, leaving them to appear brand new.

JULY

Clean the carpets. If your home is filled with carpeting, a deep cleaning every now and then will extend its longevity and keep it looking new. After a snowy winter and a rainy spring in which precipitation is regularly tracked in on your family’s shoes, a good carpet cleaning may be warranted.

AUGUST

Organize your bedroom closet. The bedroom closet is something we use all the time, but organizing it often gets delayed, because nobody else is going to notice if it’s a mess. But taking some time to organize your bedroom closet will not only bring you the satisfaction of not having to dig through mountains of laundry or mismatched shoes, but it may lead you to clear out clutter and old clothes that are taking up precious space.

SEPTEMBER

Work on your curb appeal. If you have landscaping that is becoming overgrown, pulling weeds and refreshing old mulch can make a world of difference in how your home looks from the street. Reviving your front yard landscaping may also increase the value of your home.

OCTOBER

Clean the gutters. Fall is an optimal time to go out and clean your gutters. If wet leaves are left in your gutters, they’ll begin to break down into a sediment, clogging the flow of rainwater. And if they’re left to freeze up in decreasing temperatures, the weight could pull down your gutters. Learn more on gutter maintenance here.

NOVEMBER

Organize and clean your laundry room or area. Whether you have a laundry room or a laundry closet, it’s easy to allow things to get haphazard and disorganized. Place small baskets on shelves to organize your fabric softener and stain remover, keep extra laundry baskets handy and give your washer and dryer a thorough cleaning.

DECEMBER

Deep clean your oven. When December arrives, so do many delicious baked treats and dishes. So giving your oven a thorough deep clean beforehand is a good safety measure to take in order to clear out leftover grease, which could ignite and lead to a house fire, prompting you to file a fire damage insurance claim.

ABOUT K-FACTOR ADVOCATES

K-Factor Advocates is a public adjusting firm that specializes in insurance claim negotiation, policy language and interpretation, and claims estimating. K-Factor’s team of public insurance adjusters work on behalf of the policyholder. Coverage areas include Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

Why hire a public adjuster?

It’s the middle of the night and you hear thunder in the distance. Suddenly, there’s a downpour, and bright flashes of lightning fill your windowpane and light up your bedroom. The wind is howling, and you hear a crack outside as a large tree branch snaps and lands square on your rooftop. As you shuffle to a safe space to wait out the storm, you can’t help thinking of all the steps you will need to take to fix the roof. Calling your insurance company is the first thing that comes to mind. But another measure to consider is hiring a public insurance adjuster.

 

You may be wondering why you should hire a public adjuster when your insurance company already has a company adjuster that will inspect your property and evaluate the amount of damage you have been hit with. Just as you wouldn’t ask an IRS agent to file your taxes for you, retaining your insurance company’s adjuster could leave you with a less-than-ideal settlement.

Public adjusters work for you

A company insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, and therefore will seek to protect the profits of their company. On the flip side, a public adjuster has no ties to the insurance company and works directly for the policyholder. The only motive of a public adjuster is to get the policyholder the best settlement possible, because the more the policyholder makes, the more the public adjuster will make.

A background in construction

Your insurance company’s adjuster may not know exactly what to look for when inspecting your damaged property. Public adjusters typically have a background in construction or another related field and have a sharp eye for details your insurance company’s adjuster may overlook. A construction background is extremely beneficial when surveying the amount of loss in order to get the policyholder the best settlement possible to restore the damage to its original condition.

Handling negotiations

When you experience property damage, the situation is likely to cause stress and worry. By hiring a public insurance adjuster, the burden of negotiating with your insurance company and contractors lies on the adjuster, not you. Dealing with an insurance claim can be an emotional, time-consuming process, which is why hiring a public adjuster to take the load off can be a relief for some policyholders.

Is it the right choice for me?

To determine whether hiring a public insurance adjuster is the right choice for you, ask yourself what you would have to lose. Your insurance company’s adjuster likely doesn’t have your best interests in mind. A public adjuster is motivated to get you the highest settlement possible. You’re likely to receive a higher settlement if you go with a public adjuster, and you won’t have to deal with the stress of negotiations during the claim process.

By hiring a public adjuster, there’s little to lose and a lot to gain.

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