Protective Safeguard Endorsements

The Hidden Guardian of Your Insurance Policy: Protective Safeguard Endorsements

At Clarke & Cohen, we have seen firsthand the value of thorough policy examination and understanding the intricacies that often escape the average policyholder’s attention. The Protective Safeguard endorsement is a critical yet often overlooked aspect of many insurance policies. This seemingly innocuous addition to your insurance contract can play a vital role in ensuring that the safeguards you’ve put in place, such as sprinkler systems, smoke detectors, and fire alarms, remain operational. Failure to maintain these safeguards could jeopardize your claim in the event of a covered loss, making this endorsement an essential element of your insurance protection.

Let’s dive into what a Protective Safeguard endorsement is and why it’s essential to keep these safeguards in good working order:

Understanding Protective Safeguard Endorsements:

A Protective Safeguard endorsement is a condition in your insurance policy that specifies specific safety measures you must maintain to ensure the integrity of your property and minimize the risk of loss. These safety measures typically include fire prevention systems like sprinklers, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, fire alarms, and even security systems. The endorsement serves as a reminder that your insurer expects you to take reasonable steps to protect your property from risks that these safeguards are in place to protect.

The Role of Protective Safeguards:

Protective safeguards are the unsung heroes of property protection. They act as your first line of defense against potential disasters like fires, which can result in extensive damage and loss. A properly maintained sprinkler system can swiftly suppress a fire, minimizing its impact and potentially saving lives. Smoke detectors and fire alarms alert you and emergency services to smoke or flames, allowing for rapid response and reduced damage. These safeguards protect your property and contribute to the safety of occupants and nearby structures.

The Maintenance Dilemma:

One of the critical aspects of Protective Safeguard endorsements is the requirement for regular maintenance. Insurance carriers understand that, over time, even the most reliable systems can experience wear and tear, leading to potential malfunctions. This understanding is why insurers emphasize the need for routine inspections and servicing.

For example, a poorly maintained sprinkler system might have clogged nozzles or malfunctioning valves, rendering it ineffective at a crucial moment. Similarly, smoke detectors with dead batteries or fire alarms with faulty wiring could fail when you need them the most.

The Implications of Neglect:

If a loss occurs, and your insurer determines that you failed to maintain the required safeguards, the implications can be significant. They may argue that your negligence contributed to the extent of the loss, certainly this might provide them with a legal basis to reduce the amount they pay out on your claim or, in extreme cases, deny your claim altogether. Keeping your protective measures up to date is not just a matter of good practice but a condition of your insurance coverage.

Proactive Measures:

So, how can you ensure that your Protective Safeguard endorsement doesn’t become a liability? Here are a few proactive steps you can take:

  1. Regular Maintenance: Schedule routine inspections and servicing for all protective systems. Document these activities, including dates, details of work done, and the service provider’s name.
  2. Battery Replacement: Replace batteries in smoke detectors and other battery-operated safety devices at least once a year. Specifically a good rule of thumb is to do this during daylight saving time changes.
  3. Testing: Test your safeguards periodically to ensure they are functioning correctly. That includes running tests on fire alarms, checking sprinkler heads, and verifying the operation of security systems.
  4. Records: Keep detailed records of all maintenance and testing activities related to protective safeguards. These records can be invaluable if you comply with the endorsement’s requirements.
  5. Professional Help: Consult with experts, such as fire safety professionals or security system specialists.  This will ensure your safeguards are operational and up to current safety standards.

Protective Safeguard endorsements are a crucial aspect of your insurance policy that highlights the importance of maintaining essential safety measures. These safeguards protect your property and its occupants and play a pivotal role in the event of a covered loss. By understanding the requirements of this endorsement and taking proactive measures to keep your protective systems in good working order, you can ensure that your insurance coverage remains robust and effective when you need it the most. Remember, prevention is not only better than the cure, but it’s also a central part of maintaining a healthy insurance policy.

Contact us at (610) 668-0144 to discuss any questions you may have about protective safeguard endorsements.

Navigating Business Interruption Insurance

Navigating Business Interruption Insurance

Ensuring Stability for Your Business with Clarke & Cohen Public Adjusters

Picture this: your business is thriving, operations are running smoothly, and suddenly, disaster strikes. A severe property damage incident occurs, leaving your business paralyzed.

How can you continue paying your employees and covering expenses during this challenging time? That’s where business interruption insurance steps in, and Clarke & Cohen Public Adjusters is here to guide you through this process.

Understanding Business Interruption Insurance

Business interruption insurance is a vital component of any comprehensive risk management plan. It is designed to protect businesses from the financial fallout that occurs when they are forced to halt their operations due to property damage caused by a covered peril, such as fire, water damage, or certain natural disasters. This type of insurance coverage helps ensure that your business can continue to pay its key employees, meet other payroll obligations, and cover ongoing necessary expenses during the restoration and recovery period. It may also cover emergency and ongoing extra expenses that occur such as temporary work locations and marketing and advertising to help your customers find you.

Securing Stability for Your Employees

Your employees are the lifeblood of your business, and ensuring their financial stability during a crisis is paramount. Business interruption insurance allows you to continue paying your employees, ensuring that they can meet their personal obligations while you work towards getting your business back on track. The policy provides coverage for employee wages and benefits based on their pre-interruption earnings, helping to ease the burden on both your staff and your company.

At Clarke & Cohen Public Adjusters, we understand the importance of maintaining a supportive and motivated workforce during a difficult period. Our team of experienced professionals will work closely with you to assess the impact of the property damage incident on your business and ensure that your employees’ financial well-being is prioritized.

Continuing to Cover Business Expenses

When disaster strikes, the bills don’t stop. From rent and utility payments to loan installments and supplier invoices, your business still has financial obligations to meet, even if operations are temporarily suspended. Business interruption insurance provides coverage for necessary expenses that your business would typically incur. This will ensure that you can keep up with your financial responsibilities during the restoration period.

Clarke & Cohen Public Adjusters dedicated team is well-versed in navigating the intricacies of business interruption claims. We will meticulously assess your business’s expenses and work diligently to negotiate with insurance carriers to maximize your coverage. We will also work hard for you to secure the funds needed to sustain your business operations throughout the interruption period.

Proving Business Interruption Losses

When it comes to making a successful business interruption insurance claim, meticulous documentation and accurate financial records are crucial. Clarke & Cohen Public Adjusters understands the complexities involved in proving business interruption losses. Our team will help you compile all the necessary documentation.  This includes financial statements, tax records, and other supporting evidence, to substantiate your claim and ensure that you receive fair compensation for the losses you have incurred.

Navigating the Claims Process with Clarke & Cohen Public Adjusters

The claims process can be overwhelming, especially during a time when your focus should be on restoring your business. That’s where Clarke & Cohen Public Adjusters comes in. Our expert team specializes in handling business interruption insurance claims and will serve as your trusted advocate throughout the entire process.

We will conduct a comprehensive analysis of your policy, ensuring that you understand the coverage and limitations in place. Our adjusters will assess the extent of the property damage, evaluate the financial impact on your business, and carefully calculate your losses. With our vast experience and in-depth knowledge of insurance policies, we will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, working tirelessly to secure the maximum compensation you deserve.

Business interruption insurance is an essential safeguard for every business owner. It ensures that your employees are taken care of and that your business can weather the storm during times of property damage and operational disruption. Clarke & Cohen Public Adjusters is committed to supporting you through these challenging times, offering the expertise and dedication needed to navigate the complex world of business interruption insurance claims successfully.

Don’t face the aftermath of a severe property damage incident alone. Contact Clarke & Cohen Public Adjusters today, and let us be your trusted partner in securing the stability and financial well-being of your business. Together, we’ll overcome the challenges and emerge stronger than ever before.

Protecting Your Assets

Protecting Your Assets: Taking Inventory for Insurance Purposes 

In the face of severe property damage or catastrophic loss, ensuring that your assets are adequately protected becomes crucial. One of the most vital steps you can take as a homeowner or business property owner is to create a comprehensive inventory of your possessions. This inventory is a valuable tool for insurance claims, providing detailed documentation to support your case.

Why Take Inventory?

When disaster strikes, such as a fire, flood, or severe storm, it can be overwhelming to deal with the aftermath. Taking inventory in advance allows you to be prepared and makes the claims process more efficient. Here are a few key reasons why stock is essential:

Accurate Documentation:

An inventory provides an itemized list of your belongings, including their descriptions, values, and supporting evidence such as receipts, photographs, or videos. This documentation helps establish the existence and significance of your property, aiding in a fair and prompt settlement.

Enhanced Claims Process:

With a comprehensive inventory, you can substantiate your claim accurately. It eliminates guesswork and provides detailed evidence supporting your valuation, minimizing the chances of undervaluing or omitting items.

Streamlined Recovery:

A thorough inventory enables you to assess the full extent of the loss, facilitating a quicker and smoother recovery process. It allows you to prioritize replacements, repairs, and rebuilding efforts promptly.

Located in Bala Cynwyd, PA, Clarke & Cohen is a trusted name in public adjusting and loss consulting. They specialize in representing policyholders, ensuring that their clients receive fair and equitable settlements from insurance companies. Their team of experienced professionals possesses extensive knowledge of the insurance industry, policy language, and claims processes. With their expertise, they can guide you through the complex maze of insurance claims and help maximize your recovery.

Apps for Taking Inventory:

Taking inventory no longer requires manual note-taking and paperwork. Numerous smartphone apps simplify the process, making it more efficient and organized. Here are a few highly recommended apps:

Encircle: Encircle is a user-friendly app that allows you to create a comprehensive inventory by simply taking photos or videos of your belongings. You can add descriptions, values, and other essential details, making documenting and categorizing your assets easy.

Sortly: Sortly is an intuitive app that helps you create a detailed inventory. It provides customizable categories, allows you to attach photos, receipts, and warranties, and even generates QR codes for efficient tracking.

Nest Egg: Nest Egg offers a straightforward approach to inventory management. You can create an inventory by scanning barcodes, taking photos, and adding relevant information. The app also provides features for organizing items by room or collection.

Preparing for the unexpected is integral to responsible homeownership and property management. By taking inventory of your possessions, you can safeguard your assets and ensure a smoother claims process in case of severe damage or catastrophic loss. Clarke & Cohen, Public Adjusters and Loss Consultants in Bala Cynwyd, PA, can provide valuable assistance, advocating for your best interests during the claims process.

Use modern tools such as smartphone apps like Encircle, Sortly, or Nest Egg to simplify and streamline your inventory process. These apps can significantly reduce the time and effort required, making maintaining an accurate and up-to-date record of your possessions easier.

In times of distress, having a trusted partner like Clarke & Cohen can make a significant difference. They will work tirelessly to protect your rights, negotiate on your behalf, and ensure you receive a fair settlement for your losses.

External Links:

Clarke & Cohen, Public Adjusters and Loss Consultants:

Nest Egg:

Shore and Mountain house preparation for Winter

It’s time to leave your vacation home!

What should you do for shore and mountain house preparation for the winter?

Your shore or mountain home has been a flurry of activity all summer, but now it’s time to close for the season and get it ready for the elements ahead. With the onset of hurricane season wind and rain, followed by the brutal winter freeze, there are many steps to take to protect your summer home from the elements.

Here is what you need to do to prepare your shore or mountain home for the winter:

  • Check your home’s heating and air conditioning systems. HVAC maintenance involves changing filters and having your HVAC contractor check that all systems are a go.
  • Protect your pipes. See if there are any exposed pipes in need of insulation. Turn off your water supply to avoid any burst pipes or flooding from leaks. Open cabinet doors during frigid periods to allow warm air to circulate the lines. Disconnect garden hoses and drain those, too.
  • Clean your Chimney. Remove nests and check your flue damper to ensure it opens and closes properly. If you last cleaned your fireplace a while ago, schedule a chimney sweep to come and clean it for you.
  • Clean your gutters from debris and leaves. Clogged drains can contribute to ice damming and cause basement flooding when the snow melts. Clear out your gutters to avoid any unforeseen problems.
  • Have a Roofing contractor safely inspect your roof for any missing shingles or leaks.
  • Check the Weather Stripping on all doors and windows and replace the sealing, caulk, or stripping where you see dried, cracked, or peeling.
  • Protect your Outdoor Living Space by bringing in or covering your furniture, drain any water features or fountains, and clean up and cover the barbecue grill.

For Shore and Mountain house preparation for Winter:
Once your systems are cleaned up and winterized, you can rest easy at home, knowing your investment property at the shore or mountains is safe.

We are your severe damage experts and are here with advice to help you avoid future problems. Contact Clarke & Cohen at (610) 668-0144.

Condominium Insurance Claims

Condominium insurance can be complex, with different coverage responsibilities and regulations depending on the state in which you reside. In general, a condominium owner’s insurance policy will provide coverage for the interior of their unit, while the condo association’s insurance policy will cover the building’s exterior and common areas.

However, the specific details of insurance coverage can vary significantly from state to state. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations in your state, as well as your specific condominium association’s insurance policies, to understand what types of damages are covered and by whom.


In general, condominium owners are responsible for insuring the interior of their units, including their personal belongings and any upgrades they have made to the unit. This insurance coverage is typically referred to as HO-6 insurance, which is a type of homeowners insurance policy that is designed specifically for condo owners. HO-6 policies can vary widely in their coverage, but they typically cover damage caused by things like fire, theft, vandalism, and certain types of water damage.

The condominium association, on the other hand, is responsible for insuring the building’s exterior and common areas, such as the roof, walls, hallways, and elevators. This insurance coverage is typically referred to as a master policy.  A Master Policy it’s designed to protect the building and the association from liability in the event of property damage or bodily injury.

Types of Policies

There are two types of master policies that a condominium association may carry: a bare walls-in policy or an all-in policy. A bare walls-in policy only covers the structure of the building, leaving unit owners responsible for any damage to their unit’s interior. An all-in policy, on the other hand, covers everything in the building, including the fixtures and appliances in each unit.

Even with an all-in policy, the association’s insurance may not cover certain types of damage, such as damage caused by floods or earthquakes. Unit owners should understand what their association’s master policy covers and what they are responsible for covering themselves.

In some states, the laws and regulations regarding condominium insurance can be particularly complex. For example, in Florida, condominium associations are required to carry insurance that covers the full replacement value of the building, including any upgrades or improvements made by individual unit owners. This requirement can make insurance claims more complex, as unit owners may need to provide evidence of their upgrades or improvements to the insurance company in order to receive compensation.

Using a Public Adjuster

A public adjuster can be a valuable resource for condominium owners who need assistance navigating the complex process of filing an insurance claim. Public adjusters are licensed professionals who work on behalf of policyholders to help them maximize their insurance claims. They can help with everything from filing the initial claim to negotiating with the insurance company.  This helps to ensure that the policyholder receives fair compensation.

Public adjusters can be particularly helpful for condominium owners, as they can navigate the complex rules and regulations surrounding condominium insurance claims. They can also help unit owners determine what is covered by their own insurance policy and what is covered by the association’s policy. Public adjusters work with both the unit owner and the association to ensure that all parties are fairly compensated.

When working with a public adjuster, it’s important to choose a licensed and experienced professional who has a deep understanding of the insurance regulations surrounding condominium insurance claims in your state. Look for a public adjuster who has experience working with condominium owners and who has a proven track record of success in maximizing insurance claims.

In conclusion, navigating condominium insurance claims can be complex.  There are different coverage responsibilities and regulations depending on the state in which you reside. Condominium owners are responsible for insuring the interior of their units. The association is responsible for insuring the building’s exterior and common areas. It’s important for unit owners to understand what’s covered in their policies.

Contact Clarke & Cohen, Greater Philadelphia Public Adjusters, for your Condominium Insurance Claim at  (610) 668-0144

Co-Insurance in a Commercial Property Claim

Co-insurance is a common concept in commercial property insurance policies. It’s an important aspect of insurance policies that can have a significant impact on the amount of a claim that a policyholder is able to recover. In this blog, we’ll discuss what co-insurance is and how it applies to commercial property claims.

What is Co-insurance?

Co-insurance is a term that refers to the percentage of an insured property’s value that the policyholder must insure in order to be fully covered in the event of a loss. It’s essentially a requirement that policyholders insure their property for a certain percentage of its value, typically 80% or 90%. If the policyholder fails to meet this requirement and the property suffers a loss, the insurer may reduce the amount of the claim payout by the same percentage that the policyholder was underinsured.

How Co-insurance Works in a Commercial Property Claim

Co-insurance applies to commercial property insurance policies in the same way that it applies to other types of insurance policies. In a commercial property insurance policy, the policyholder is required to insure their property for a certain percentage of its value, typically 80% or 90%. If the policyholder fails to meet this requirement, they are said to be underinsured.

When a loss occurs, the insurance company will calculate the amount of the loss and compare it to the insured value of the property. If the policyholder has met the co-insurance requirement and insured the property for the required percentage of its value, the insurance company will pay the full amount of the claim, up to the policy limits.

What if you’re Underinsured?

However, if the policyholder is underinsured, the insurance company will apply the co-insurance formula to the claim payout. The co-insurance formula is used to determine the amount of the claim payout. This is based on the percentage of the property’s value that was insured. In its simplest form, the co-insurance formula is the amount of insurance carried on the property divided by the amount of insurance required, multiplied by the amount of the loss. For example, if the policyholder insured the property for only 70% of its value, the insurance company would reduce the claim payout by the same percentage, paying out only 70% of the claim.

Let’s say a commercial building has a value of $1 million and the policyholder insured the property for only $600,000. Assume the insured is required to insure the property for 80% of the replacement value and the building suffers a loss that results in $500,000 in damages. Then the insurance company will use the co-insurance formula to determine the amount of the claim payout. In this case, the claim payout would be reduced by the same percentage that the property was underinsured, which is 25%. Therefore, the policyholder would only receive a claim payout of $375,000, or 75% of the total amount of the loss.

Why Co-insurance is Important in Commercial Property Claims

Co-insurance is an important aspect of commercial property insurance policies because it helps ensure that policyholders are properly insuring their property. The co-insurance requirement is intended to prevent policyholders from underinsuring their property in order to save on insurance premiums.

Co-insurance can also have a significant impact on the amount of a claim payout in the event of a loss. If a policyholder is underinsured and suffers a loss, they may not receive the full amount of the claim payout that they expected. This can result in significant financial losses for the policyholder. And that’s why it’s important to properly insure commercial property and meet the co-insurance requirement.

In conclusion, co-insurance is an important aspect of commercial property insurance policies. It requires policyholders to insure their property for a certain percentage of its value, typically 80% or 90%. If a policyholder is underinsured and suffers a loss, the insurance company may reduce the amount of the claim payout by the same percentage that the policyholder was underinsured.

Contact Clarke & Cohen, Bala Cynwyd, PA Public Adjusters, in case of a commercial property insurance claim.


Philadelphia Area Commercial Property Owners Need This

As a commercial building owner, you have a lot on your plate. Not only do you have to manage the day-to-day operations of your business, but you also have to make sure that your property is well-maintained and protected. Unfortunately, no matter how well you take care of your building, there’s always a chance that something could go wrong.
Whether it’s a natural disaster, a fire, or some other type of property damage, the costs associated with repairs and rebuilding can be staggering.
That’s why Philadelphia Area Commercial Property Owners Need This.

It’s important to have a professional licensed public adjuster like  Clarke & Cohen, that you can rely on in case of property damage. A public adjuster is a professional who specializes in helping property owners navigate the often-complicated process of filing an insurance claim. They understand the ins and outs of the insurance industry and can help you make sure that you get the maximum amount of compensation for your loss.

When you work with Clarke & Cohen, they will take the time to thoroughly assess the damage to your property and provide you with an accurate estimate of the costs associated with repairs and rebuilding. They will also help you gather all of the necessary documentation and evidence to support your claim. This can include photographs, videos, and detailed reports of the damage.

In addition to helping you file your claim, Clark & Cohen will also act as your advocate during negotiations with your insurance company. They will work to make sure that your claim is processed quickly and that you receive the full compensation that you’re entitled to. This can be especially important if your insurance company disputes the extent of the damage or the amount of your claim.

Another important benefit of working with a professional licensed public adjuster like Clarke & Cohen is that they can help you avoid common mistakes that many property owners make when filing an insurance claim. For example, they can help you make sure that you don’t inadvertently undervalue your claim or overlook important coverage that you may be entitled to.
They can also help you avoid common pitfalls that can delay the processing of your claim or result in a lower payout.

Finally, working with a Clarke & Cohen can help you avoid the stress and frustration that often comes with filing an insurance claim.
Dealing with property damage can be overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to juggle the demands of running your business at the same time.
A public adjuster can take the burden of dealing with your insurance company off your shoulders, allowing you to focus on what you do best.

In conclusion, every commercial building owner needs to have a public adjuster they rely on in case of property damage. They can help you navigate the process of filing an insurance claim, ensure you get the maximum amount of compensation, and act as an advocate on your behalf during negotiations with the insurance company.
Public adjusters can also help you avoid common mistakes and reduce the stress and frustration of dealing with property damage.
Having a public adjuster on your side can give you peace of mind knowing that you have a professional handling the insurance claim process for you.  That’s why Philadelphia Area Commercial Property Owners Need This (a public adjuster) in case of unexpected property damage.

At Clarke & Cohen, we are professional licensed commercial public adjusters and charter members of NAPIA, we specialize in significant and severe damage to area businesses and institutions with our commercial claim services. Whether a fire, natural disaster, or structural damage has hit your business, commercial property, or institution, call Clarke & Cohen to get the money you deserve today.

Property damage can be devastating to your company. Your next move should be to contact Clarke & Cohen so we can help you get back in business.



Sound the Alarm

**Updated June, 2023:

~In April and May, our dedicated team joined forces with the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania to bring safety and peace of mind to our community. Together, we made a significant impact by installing smoke detectors, creating personalized escape plans, and sharing vital fire safety information in underserved neighborhoods.
Many homeowners do not replace smoke alarm batteries frequently enough, allowing existing batteries to die. We see residential fires every day and these new 10 year batteries will save lives!

We’re deeply committed to making a lasting difference and ensuring that everyone has access to the necessary resources and knowledge to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
The numbers speak for themselves – a staggering 906 homes are now safer thanks to the “Sound the Alarm” program! We are honored to have been able to contribute to this life-saving initiative and extend our heartfelt gratitude to our partners at the American Red Cross for giving us the opportunity to volunteer and support this important cause.

Stay tuned for more updates on our ongoing efforts to create a safer community and empower individuals with invaluable fire safety tips. Together, we can make a real impact and build a stronger, more resilient neighborhood.

~On January 16, 2023, in honor of MLK Day of Service, the Clarke & Cohen team volunteered for the American Red Cross, installing free smoke alarms and sharing safety information to several Frankford area neighborhoods.

The American Red Cross of Southeastern PA program “Sound the Alarm, Save a Life” rallies volunteers to install free smoke alarms and share safety information within at-risk communities.

The volunteer team, including Clarke & Cohen, installed 198 free smoke alarms, made 88 homes safer, and served over 240 community members.

Home fires claim 7 lives every day, but having working smoke alarms can cut the risk of death by half.


About the American Red Cross of Southeastern PA:

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Region of the American Red Cross serves approximately 4.2 million people in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. Our region provides food and shelter in emergencies, assists members of our armed forces and their families, teaches lifesaving skills, collects lifesaving blood, and so much more. All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. The American Red Cross “Sound the Alarm, Save a Life” rallies volunteers to install free smoke alarms and share safety information within at-risk communities throughout the United States.

About the Clarke & Cohen Foundation:

Providing support for fire protection to underserved residents of Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.  Clarke & Cohen is a public insurance adjuster and property loss consultant in the Philadelphia, South Jersey, Delaware and surrounding areas.

Why hire a public adjuster after severe property damage?

Why should a business hire a public adjuster after severe property damage?

There are several reasons why a business might want to hire a public adjuster after suffering severe commercial property damage.
First, a public adjuster can help the business accurately assess the extent of the damage and determine the full amount of the claim. This can be especially helpful if the damage is extensive or if the business owner is not familiar with the insurance claims process.

Gets your claim paid in a timely manner

Second, a public adjuster negotiates with the insurance company on the business’s behalf. They will help ensure that the claim is paid in full and in a timely manner. If the insurance company is disputing the claim or offering a lower settlement than the business believes is fair, the public adjuster will move the claim forward with beneficial results.
Third, a public adjuster can provide valuable advice and guidance throughout the claims process. This helps the business avoid common pitfalls and mistakes that can delay or reduce the amount of the claim.
Overall, hiring a public adjuster after suffering severe property damage can help a business to recover more quickly and more fully from the loss, allowing it to focus on rebuilding and moving forward.
These are just a few reasons why a business should hire a public adjuster after severe property damage.
Established in 1921, Clarke & Cohen is a fourth generation, family-owned Philadelphia public insurance adjuster and a professional member of NAPIA.  We provide 24/7 emergency service, immediate response and a consultative approach.  We aim to settle claims to the benefit of our clients.
Contact us at 610-668-0144 for professional help with your commercial property claim.

Forensic Engineer Fire Evaluation

Home type is critical to determine the structural viability of homes after a fire.

Fire damage is the No. 1 insurance loss category nationwide and 80% were in residential structures. Kitchens are the prime location of origin. Commercial fire loss evaluation involves structural inspection and testing of wood, steel, concrete and masonry materials. Insurance carriers are seldom inclined to pay for post-loss structural testing and will attempt to settle claims based on visual observations. In extreme loss situations (i.e., “total loss”), this may be acceptable, but, in many cases, there is partial fire damage linked to the structural system. This article will share insight on the structural test procedures for evaluating fire loss claims and focus on coverage dispute issues as they pertain to insurance assertions of preexisting damage.

Forensic Engineer Fire Evaluation

Fire losses account for approximately $22 billionDisplay footnote number:1 in 2020, with 3,500 civilian deaths. Forty percent of these losses were structure-related fires and the death toll is 64% attributed to residential one- and two-family dwelling units.

The 2020 estimate of 11,900 residential fire injuries was 44% lower than the 21,100 in 1980.

a figure fire loss valuation

Figure 1: Fire Loss Valuation 1990-20201

These facts point to the idea that the most dangerous place for fire deaths is at home, most likely due to fires originating in the kitchen area. Structure types drive these statistics. There are five categories of structures: Type I, II, III, IV and V. Each type is based on its resistance to fire. Type I and II are deemed the highest resistance with Type V the lowest. The simple definition is Type I and II are broadly classified as providing three- to four-hour fire ratings with materials of concrete, fire retardant encased steel and reinforced masonry. Type V buildings are wood-framed construction. Type IV is “heavy timber” construction which, although wood, has better fire resistance than conventional wood framing.

Of 195 countries in the world, the United States is the largest (perhaps only) purveyor of wood framed buildings that comprise 75-80% of our total floor space. All other countries, especially industrialized nations of the G7, use Type I, II and III construction. Even “developing countries” (Brazil, India, Mexico) rarely use Type V construction. This author is not an advocate for wood-frame buildings in areas that are susceptible to large fire loss. Think of California and the wildfires. Why does the fifth largest economy in the world rely on wood for their residences in wildfire zones? This is a mystery.

a figure excerpt from nfpa report for 2020


Figure 2: Excerpt from NFPA Report for 2020

For insurance adjusters, the tools to evaluate a fire loss and determine coverage are critically important. Insurance adjusters seek two critical objectives:

  1. Determine the full scope of the fire loss.
  2. Value the fire loss and reconstruction scope of work.

Insurance carriers may conduct these investigations with “traditional methods” of empirical valuation mixed with limited testing. Tests cost money, but they bring analytics to the insurance valuation process, which adds value to the process of estimation and scientific accuracy, which is necessary in the 21st century.

Four materials constitute civil engineering for the past 5,000 years: masonry, concrete, steel and wood. There are new versions of materials such aluminum, fiber composites, post tensioned concrete, etc. But these four basic materials are the building blocks of our civilization and wood is responsible for 75% of our building space in the United States. How should insurance adjusters approach fire loss evaluation?

I. Investigation

Fire loss investigations invest resources, time, testing and apparatus to determine the cause, origin and structural damage. For structural evaluations, a few tools beyond the visible eye are useful. These include both non-destructive testing (NDT) and destructive testing (DT) methods to assess the residual strength of materials.

Steel structures: NDT methods are X-ray, Ultrasonic Testing (UT) to examine the welds and bolts. Steel has a melt point of 2,600 F, and the fire proofing will last usually less than one hour. It’s imperative to examine residual strength of materials after the fire.

Masonry/Concrete structures: NDT methods are Schmidt Hammer for concrete compressive strength. DT methods are core extraction followed up with petrographic examination. NDT and DT methods will provide evidence of the remaining structural capacity and heat effects on steel reinforcement.

Wood structures: Wood requires testing in a lab by extracting samples (DT). Charring of wood members usually indicates lack of reuse and this impacts the replacement cost because code issues will raise the bar for the new design. Code upgrade is the most significant impact on Type V structures post-fire loss.

II. Structural Engineering Analysis

The structural redesign of the post-fire loss building must consider code upgrades, whether this is part of the coverage or not. The design engineer for the reconstruction must include this in their scope of work, although it may be separated out for cost valuation purposes. Certain carriers will demand that code upgrade design be excluded in the reconstruction plans purposely unless the building department demands them. This is an incorrect approach because the building authority is not the responsible party and is not liable to the owner for missing design elements that are required by code. The engineer of record is the responsible party and must include all design elements to satisfy the building code, whether the building department asks for it or not. Conflicts often arise on this point and insurance adjusters should be aware of this critical step.

III. Reconstruction Engineering with Cost Valuation

The reconstruction plan should follow through from Phase I and II to include all fire loss related items, code upgrade features and may trigger additional requirements that are required for the building permit. A few peripheral items that get triggered are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements that can be expensive, time consuming and require additional resources. ADA is a critical element on all post-loss reconstruction plans. Fire sprinklers are usually triggered in the reconstruction process. Upgrades to new roof materials and fire-retardant wrapping that was not in the original design may become cost additions.

Reconciling these additional costs with the insurance policy coverage is a prime challenge for insurance adjusters. Owners need to budget for the “true reconstruction” with building code upgrades, better materials, ADA, fire sprinklers and other elements that may not be covered under the policy but which they must pay for. It’s not the conversation anyone wants to have but needs to be done upfront and reconciled before the project starts, rather than surprising our clients with these additional expenses.’

Reprinted with permission from

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1“Fire Loss in the United States during 2020,” National Fire Protection Association, Marty Ahrens and Ben Evarts, September 2021 Report.