Unfortunately there is a common trend of fraudulent activity after natural disasters. FEMA recently published a press release warning wildfire survivors of fraud dangers, giving a few common post-disaster practices to avoid fraud issues of your own should you be affected.
Often someone trying to scam you will call or visit you. When people visit your home, make sure to always ask for an official photo ID badge (all federal employees carry one), as their attire with logos is not proof of affiliation. Another thing is to pay attention to what they offer you, what information they ask for and what they ask to get from you. The questions they ask shouldn’t include anything about your Social Security number or bank information, as this is only asked for when you initially register for FEMA assistance. It is absolutely a scam if someone offers to speed up the process in any way, or if they request money to speed up the process or increase the amount of assistance. Federal workers would NEVER ask for money.
If you can see damage from the street there is a greater chance for fraud. “It is important to note that FEMA housing inspectors verify damage, but do not hire or endorse specific contractors to fix homes or recommend repairs. They do not determine your eligibility for assistance.” Which leads us to contractors: do not allow contractors to start working on your house on the spot. Instead, make sure only to “use licensed local contractors backed by reliable references, get a written estimate from at least three contractors, including the cost of labor and materials and read the fine print.” You should also make sure that your contractors are properly insured and carry “general liability insurance and workers’ compensation. If he or she is not insured, you may be liable for accidents that occur on your property.” For more information about contractors, everything else we addressed and more, see the FEMA press release.
Call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or your local police if you suspect someone is trying to con you.
FEMA information obtained from their press release: http://www.fema.gov/news-release/2015/09/28/wildfire-survivors-warned-beware-fraud
With the warmer, drier weather, we are seeing an increase in fires across the state. There is no greater evidence of this than in Wenatchee, Washington with the Sleepy Hollow Fire. If you are a PropertyEDGE customer, you will be able to watch this fire in real time as the fire perimeter changes. You can also view perimeter data on historical fires across the state.
According to King 5 News, the Sleepy Hollow Fire is currently 47% contained, and we hope it will soon be completely contained. However, conditions can change in a moment’s notice, and this wildfire appears to be changing faster than most. “It seems like we weren’t under evacuation notice until the flames were in our backyard, it was just so quick,” said Ali Marboe in the same article. First responders agree, saying they have “never seen a fire move this quickly.”
This will, of course, have an impact upon the insurance industry. Diane Reed, who evacuated the area on Sunday evening, told the Seattle Times that one of the first things she did was give her insurance company a call. She “figured her home was worth $475,000, but some homes were valued at up to $1.5 million.”
“PropertyEDGE is mapping this fire,” says Tracy Skinner, Manager of Subscriber Services at WSRB. “[Customers] have up-to-date info.” Staying informed about past fires and current fire perimeters is crucial when insuring a client in a fire-prone area, such as Central and Eastern Washington.
Yes, it’s our Fully Interactive Risk Search Tool in PropertyEDGE!
Did you know, when you log in to PropertyEDGE our Class and Specifically Rated risks will appear in an overlay on the map with a link to the loss cost? This overlay will automatically load when you’re zoomed in to approximately the .2 mile aerial overview level. For some areas, the overlay will outline the individual building with a flag showing the risk number. In most areas, there will be a flag on the street next to the address location of the building.
This overlay feature works with any of the basemaps in PropertyEDGE.
Accessing Reports and Loss Costs
Before accessing a loss cost, be sure that your popup blocker is turned off. Once the map is loaded, search for your address in the Address bar. The map will zoom in to this location and the overlay will automatically appear.
At the top left side of your screen, click on “Tools” to open the Tools menu.
– Once the Tools menu is opened, click on “Identify Risk.”
– Once “Identify Risk” is selected, simply click on the outline of the building or the flag on top of it to see the loss cost page.
Note: The loss cost search page will appear as a popup. If you don’t see the loss cost page:
- Is your popup blocker turned off? If you’re not sure how to check, contact your IT Department or give us a call.
- Did it appear behind the PropertyEDGE window? If so, try minimizing PropertyEDGE and other programs to see if it’s open behind everything else.
– Clicking the building or flag will bring up the loss cost page with the risk number automatically entered into the Risk Search box.
Check to be sure the appropriate LOI (Limits of Insurance) and Rule 85 buttons are clicked and hit “Search.”
– The loss costs and a link to the inspection will appear!
Turning Layer Off
– To turn this overlay OFF, simply go to the Layers menu on the right hand side of your screen.
– Click the down arrow or the word “Layers.”
– Click on “WSRB Rated Buildings” to uncheck the box.
Why won’t my map pan?
– If you’re having trouble moving the map, be sure you’ve unchecked the “Identify Risk” button in the tools menu.
Why isn’t the loss cost page showing up?
– If the loss cost page doesn’t appear:
- Be sure you’ve selected “Identify Risk” before clicking on the map.
- Minimize your windows to be sure the page didn’t appear behind the PropertyEDGE window.
- Be sure your popup blocker is turned off.