Homeowner Claim Satisfaction

Claims Magazine came out with an interesting article about homeowner’s satisfaction when filing. Policyholders who file auto claims are still generally happier with their experience than are those filing property claims, results of J.D. Power and Associates’ yearly Home Claims Satisfaction Study.
When it comes to quality service & customer satisfaction to insurance company’s bottom lines, it matters. You may be asking, isn’t it possible to get both great value and a decent price? In our opinion, these things aren’t mutually exclusive. “Getting what you pay for” really has to with two simple but often misunderstood concepts: QUALITY & VALUE.
On average, customer satisfaction with the home claims experience registers 828 on a 1,000-point scale. Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates said, “Although satisfying home claimants is particularly challenging, it’s still crucial for insurance providers to meet the needs of these customers, given the significant impact the experience has on long-term policy retention…. An experience that meets or exceeds customer expectations may foster long-term loyalty, just as a negative experience may drive a customer to shop other insurance companies.”
Read the rest of the Claim’s article here.

Nearly $5 Million Approved For New Jersey Flood Survivors

According to NJ Today, in just two weeks since 12 New Jersey counties were made eligible for federal disaster assistance, nearly $5 million has been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist in the recovery efforts.

As of April 15, 4,942 flood survivors had registered for assistance.  Funds awarded to date total $4,977,148 which includes:
• $4,624,655 in Housing Assistance to cover temporary housing, home repairs or replacement
• $352,492 in Other Needs Assistance (ONA) to cover essential personal property losses, subsistence items, medical, transportation or serious disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance
Twelve Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) are now open in the affected counties of Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Union.  Applicants can get the location of the DRC nearest to their home or business when they register for assistance.
Daily hours at each DRC are 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The DRCs are closed on Sundays. Disaster registrants from any declared county may visit any of the DRC locations for assistance.
To register for assistance, residents should call FEMA’s toll-free number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY/TDD 1-800-462-7585 for the speech and hearing impaired (for relay service, call 711 or 1-800-852-7897) between 7 a.m. and 1 a.m., seven days a week. Multi-lingual operators are available to answer calls during this time. Residents may also register online anytime at www.disasterassistance.gov.
To read more of NJ Today’s article, click here.

Earth Day

Today is its 40th Anniversary. And in honor of that, we chose today to launch our Being Green Initiative.
According to ED’s website, Earth Day 2010 can be a turning point to advance climate policy, energy efficiency, renewable energy and green jobs. Earth Day Network is galvanizing millions who make personal commitments to sustainability. Earth Day 2010 is a pivotal opportunity for individuals, corporations and governments to join together and create a global green economy. Join the more than one billion people in 190 countries that are taking action for Earth Day.
And if you’re in Washington, they offer many ways you can take action. Volunteering, Celebrating the day in your neighborhood with events they provide, and if you’re interested in some core issues, they have a place for that too.
Join MAXONS and find a way to better your world!

Emergency Contingency Plan – Making a service crash no cause for alarm!

Over a holiday weekend recently our file server decided it was giving up and died on us.  After several attempts to revive it on the weekend, our IT firm diagnosed the crash was not fixable and we had to enact our server crash contingency plan! We had prepared a protocol for just such a situation, and our IT firm jumped into action with setting up the replacement server so we could still operate normally while we then figured out what we wanted to do about a permanent solution to the problem.
Within 4 hours we had access to our email and database again!
If we had not prepared an Emergency Contingency Plan before this occurred I am not sure we would have weathered the crisis as calmly and professionally as we did.  No one outside the company had any idea we were operating with a crippled system for several hours because we were able to continue to provide excellent service as we were confident in our planned response for just such a situation.  
We handle other peoples’ emergencies and disasters on a daily basis, and it is a relief to know we can handle our own with patience, professionalism and a dedication to maintaining top performance during a challenging experience. 

Letters Like This Is What We Live For.

Dear X,  

I would like to thank you and you crew for the amazing job they did on our basement. We had a huge flood when our sump pump stopped working after days and days of rain on the morning of March 30. Our insurance agent gave us 2 names of companies to call. My husband called you and you were at our house with in the hour. A few hours later a crew came and worked in our basement until midnight – pulling up carpet, cutting out molding and sheetrock and insulation, setting up fans, cleaning everything, etc. They were just fantastic. I will definitely be recommending you and your company in the future. 

Thanks for your wonderful service,

PS The OTHER company called us back finally at 9:30 PM !!!

Lead-Based Paint Law

The dangers of lead-based paint have been known for many years now– use has been discontinued, homeowners and renters don’t reside in old homes where traces are detected… but a facet that hasn’t been considered is the effect of hazardous lead dust and chips that occur when old buildings are demolished, old walls sanded down, and the like.  Until now.
Next Thursday, April 22nd, a new federal law takes effect. To protect that risk, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) issued a rule requiring lead-safe practices. The Renovation, Repair, & Painting Rule will affect contractors, painters, maintenance workers, property managers, owners, and many others who disturb painted surfaces by means such as sanding, demolition, renovation, repair, etc, and applies to residential houses, apartments, and child-occupied facilities such as schools and day-care centers built before 1978. Fines up to $37,500 could be incurred if not followed properly.
What does it all entail? Multi Family Investor outlines it well:

New Training Requirements

The rule requires individual renovators/contractors to complete a state or EPA accredited course and obtain certification. This includes building employees who do work that disturbs lead based paint  Owners and contractors can get a list of accredited trainers online. The rule also requires firms that employ workers to have a company license issued by the EPA. In the past, the EPA rules for lead based paint only governed activities for abatement.  Workers who have already been trained under Local Law 1 and who already have a Lead Safe Work Practices Certificate can be grandfathered in by taking a 4 hour refresher course given by a certified training firm. Owners who use outside contractors should make sure they are properly trained in Lead Safe Work Practices under the new rule and should ask to see their certificates.

Notifications and Disclosures:

The new rule requires contractors to notify tenants before disturbing any painted services by giving them a hand out called the ‘Renovate Right” pamphlet. This pamphlet, replaces the “Protect Your Family from Lead” pamphlet previously required. You can get a copy of a pamphlet by going to the EPA Web site. Contractors must also give tenants a disclosure form informing them of the nature and timing of renovation activity and the potential of lead hazards. The EPA has also provided a sample for contractors and owners can use here.  In addition, workers (including your building staff) are required to post warning signs around the affected areas. If the owner’s employee is acting as the contractor for the work, the owner must give the pamphlet and disclosure form to the tenants. Owners who are using an outside contractor should be certain that the contractors have a copy of the “Renovate Right” pamphlet and a proper disclosure form.

Safe Work Practices

Like the city’s lead based paint law (Local Law 1), the new EPA rule requires safe work practices.  Workers are required to cover all HVAC ducts, remove or cover loose objects, cover floor surfaces and doors.  Upon completion, the work area is required to be properly cleaned using a HEPA vacuum or wet mopping. These work practices are very similar to the ones required by Local Law 1. So owners should easily be able to come into compliance.

Clearance Requirements

Upon completion of the work, the certified renovator must perform the post-renovation cleaning verification by using the EPA provided post verification “check card” to determine if clearance is met.  This will be done by using disposable cleaning cloths to wipe various surfaces in the work area.  The color of the cloth is then compared to the color of the verification check card–if the cloth matches or is lighter than the card, the surface will pass the cleaning verification.  Surfaces that do not pass the first attempt must be re-cleaned.  It is important to note that the post verification check card does not supercede the need for third party clearance dust testing under Local Law 1. Property managers and owners in New York City will still need a certified lead inspection firm and lead inspector to perform clearance testing per Local Law 1 guidelines.

Records Requirements

Owners and contractors must maintain documents demonstrating compliance with the new rule must be maintained for three years.  These include the signed disclosure form, any owner opt-out forms and documentation that safe work practices and clearance requirements, as described above, were used.


The rule allows for exemptions from these requirements. The new rule doesn’t cover lead abatement as defined under the previous rules.  It also doesn’t cover minor repair (defined as work disturbing less than 6 square feet inside the building or 20 square feet out side the building) and maintenance activities (for example, the rule wouldn’t cover the painting of an apartment if the owner did not do any surface preparation that would cause dust to be released), areas found free of lead based paint by a certified inspector or risk assessor, and work performed by an owner in an owner-occupied residence.  Owners who got an exemption under Local Law 1 where no lead based paint was found to be present will be exempt from the new EPA rule.

New EPA Rule and Local Law 1

The new EPA rule does not supersede previous EPA regulations or Local Law 1.  In general, work done in pre-1960 rental units will remain governed by Local Law 1 with certain exceptions.  For instance, owners will need to hand out the new “Renovate Right” pamphlet to tenants.  In addition, Local Law 1 covers a broader amount of work (work disturbing two or more square feet inside the building) than the new EPA rule (work disturbing six or more square feet inside the building). So owners of New York City who make smaller repairs will still need to comply with Local Law 1, even though they are not covered by the new EPA rule.  Any other issues or conflicts that arise will need to be reviewed on a case by case basis. Owners who hire contractors to do work in their buildings that may disturb lead paint should ask for references.  The best way to insure that your contractors are achieving compliance with the various rules is to use a qualified lead paint consultant.

How to Supervise Bad Attitudes and Negative Behaviors

All of us have experienced these ‘toxic personalities’ in our lifetime. Heck, you may have one in your office now! Career Track addresses these issues. How do you correct attitude issues and defuse behavior problems? Protect your team from further contamination. Fred Pryor is hosting a Career Track Audio Conference on how to transform toxic employees into positive performers and he says, “The bottom line is that these ‘bad apples’ and ‘sour grapes’ cost organizations time and money because of their impact on morale, retention, productivity, and teamwork. Attitudes affect everyone, and, as a supervisor, it is your responsibility to manage and improve them.”
With 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed and only a one hour commitment, it seems like a no brainer. Learn about how to enroll here.