California Fires Deal Multifamily Industry Another Devastating Blow
Renter’s insurance claims processed after fire destroys community, displaces hundreds of residents
(November 26, 2008)—The Southern California wildfires destroyed several structures and rendered multiple buildings uninhabitable at The Cascades apartment community, a 292-unit garden style complex in Anaheim Hills, Calif. LeasingDesk© Insurance Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of RealPage, Inc., and a leading provider of full participation insurance programs for the multifamily industry, along with American Modern Insurance Group, the major underwriter of its liability and renter’s insurance policies, today announced more than 69 renter’s insurance claims have been filed. More than 95 percent of the claims have been closed and the companies anticipate providing more than $750,000 in loss reimbursements related to total or partial loss, smoke and fire damage as well as temporary living expenses once all claims are finalized.
“The loss of personal property is staggering; however, thanks to the community’s quick evacuation plan there were no fatalities or significant injuries,” said Dirk Wakeham, president of LeasingDesk. “Our catastrophe team is on site processing qualified claims, providing residents with emergency reimbursement checks and temporary housing in the wake of this horrific fire. Although a check cannot make up for the loss of sentimental pictures or family heirlooms, our goal is to help deliver peace of mind during this transition period of our customer’s life.”
American Modern deployed a catastrophe team to the community the day after the fires were contained to assist policyholders with the claims process. Six residential buildings were damaged by the fire, four of which were completely destroyed. To date 20 claims were deemed “total losses” and in most cases the policy limits were paid in full. The remaining 49 claims represent “partial losses,” which included water, fire and smoke damage and/or “additional living expenses” for residents who were unable to return to their apartments immediately after the fires. As soon as a resident filed a claim, American Modern processed and provided a $1,500 check to the resident, either in person or the check was sent overnight to the resident for temporary housing, food and clothing. The average reimbursement payment for units damaged by smoke has been $3,000.
“American Modern is the only insurance company with a catastrophe office on site to manage resident claims and ensure each qualified policyholder receives the appropriate financial support during this catastrophic event,” said Bob Crowley, Vice President of Claims for American Modern. “LeasingDesk’s exclusive focus on the multifamily industry makes these residents a top priority and has helped us expedite reimbursement payments. These factors are enabling us to meet our objective of closing all claims before Thanksgiving.”
The Cascades, managed by Sares-Regis Management Company, implemented a full participation insurance program in 2002, effectively requiring residents to carry personal insurance coverage as a condition of residency. More than 80 percent of residents at the community were insured at the time of the fires, nearly half of which used LeasingDesk’s eRenterPlan policy. As part of a disaster preparedness plan, on-site staff had also developed a comprehensive evacuation plan in the event of an emergency of this caliber. Immediately following the evacuation, the community’s property management leadership launched a blog to inform residents of important information pertaining to the damages, actions taken by local firefighters, where residents can go for assistance and when residents can return to their homes to review the extent of the damages. The blog can be viewed at http://cascadesapartments.blogspot.com/.
“You never expect anything like this to happen at your community,” said Chip Harvey, Regional Manager for The Cascades community. “The fires happened so quickly, our evacuation plan was vital to the safety of our residents. It was also very reassuring to know the majority of our residents had coverage and our partners, LeasingDesk in particular, have been exceptionally responsive to the needs of our community.”
Narayanan Iyer and his family have been residents of The Cascades community for several years. Like many residents, Iyer viewed his eRenterPlan renter’s insurance policy as an essential item in life, but hoped he would never have to use it. Thankfully, the fire did not destroy the building where his family lived; however, his unit suffered smoke damage causing significant disruption to his family’s lives.
“I was unfamiliar with the claims process and was quite apprehensive, but fortunately my American Modern adjuster was there to help,” noted Iyer. “The representative discussed the claims process, provided options for our consideration and was empathetic to our situation. Within one hour my claim was settled and I was issued a check; the entire process was dignified and respectful.”
The local Red Cross is on site providing basic living necessities to those in need of assistance. Residents who need to file a claim with LeasingDesk Insurance Services should contact a claims representative by calling (888) 205-8118, option #4, or visiting: http://kb.erenterplan.com/idx.php/0/007/article/How-do-I-file-a-claim.html
To schedule an interview with a LeasingDesk or American Modern executive, please contact Don Canfield at (303) 682-3942 or at email@example.com.
Located in Irvine, California, LeasingDesk offerings are specifically designed for the multifamily industry. The suite of products and services automates everything from the lease application through execution of a signed lease. The product line includes online leasing, resident screening, electronic leasing forms and renter’s insurance. For more information on LeasingDesk, visit www.LeasingDesk.com, call 888-484-7132 or send an e-mail message to Sales@LeasingDesk.com
Located in Carrollton, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, RealPage provides products and services to more than 20,000 apartment communities across the United States. Its six on-demand product lines include OneSite© property management systems that automate the leasing, renting, management, and accounting of conventional, affordable, tax credit, student housing, and military properties; CrossFire© sales and marketing systems that boost occupancy and build retention; YieldStar© asset optimization systems that maximize asset valuation and investment return; VelocityTM utility management systems that accelerate payments for resident charges; LeasingDesk© risk mitigation systems that reduce a community’s exposure to risk and liability; and OpsTechnologyTM spend management systems that help owners manage and reduce operating expenses. For more information, call 1-87-REALPAGE or visit www.realpage.com.
About American Modern Insurance Group
American Modern Insurance Group, founded in 1965 and headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a provider of specialty insurance products and services. American Modern specializes in writing physical damage insurance and related coverages on manufactured housing and other specialty insurance products including coverage for site-built homes, motorcycles, watercraft, snowmobiles, recreational vehicles, classic vehicles, physical damage on long-haul trucks, extended service contracts, excess and surplus lines coverages, credit life and related products, as well as collateral protection and mortgage fire products sold to financial institutions and their customers. American Modern serves 1.4 million policyholders nationwide, and is licensed in all 50 states. Additional information on the company can be found on the Internet at www.AMIG.com.
American Modern is a subsidiary of The Midland Company, which has been in business since 1938.