Adjuster advises neighbors to be proactive, cautious

  • A public adjuster who handled damage claims stemming from last April's house explosion in Long Grove recommended neighbors of Friday's Mundelein explosion hire an expert structural engineer to look at their homes -- but beware of scams.

      A public adjuster who handled damage claims stemming from last April's house explosion in Long Grove recommended neighbors of Friday's Mundelein explosion hire an expert structural engineer to look at their homes -- but beware of scams. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, April 2014

 
 
Updated 1/2/2015 8:34 PM

A public adjuster who worked on damage claims stemming from last April's house explosion in Long Grove is urging those living near Friday's explosion in Mundelein to beware of door-to-door scammers and to hire experts to investigate possible damage.

Though early reports seemed to indicate the Mundelein explosion was not as powerful as last year's in Long Grove's Royal Melbourne subdivision, there's no telling how far away other structural damage may have been caused or how long it may take to be noticeable, said Jon Sabath, a public adjuster for Chicago-based A. Schoeneman & Co. Inc. He said property owners should hire an expert they've found and researched themselves to investigate suspicions of damage.

 

Dozens of claims were filed after the Long Grove explosion, which leveled the home and was heard miles away, and Sabath said he handled cases as far as 1,800 feet away in which verifiable damage occurred.

The key to getting insurance coverage is being able to prove that the damage was actually caused by the explosion, he added.

"Experts like us, we know what we're looking for," Sabath said. "Sometimes you have to look real close."

He cited the example of a hot tub that one family hadn't used since the explosion but that a structural engineer found would have started leaking due to damage.

Insurance companies will send out their own assessors, of course. But Sabath said that while he wouldn't question the honesty of insurance companies, their experts might have a limited time to assess all the damage within a certain area.

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In hiring one's own expert, a homeowner shouldn't sacrifice common sense and allow the first person who knocks at the door to come in, Sabath said. Damage caused by a scammer may prove harder to get insurance coverage for, he added.

Sabath has been a public adjuster since 1997 and works for a company that's been in business for more than 50 years. He said of the approximately 3,000 damage cases he's handled, there couldn't have been more than 10 explosions involved.

That's why he considers last year's Long Grove explosion to have been a particularly useful learning experience. As a nearby Buffalo Grove resident, he was first brought in by friends and acquaintances.

The state's statute of limitations for insurance claims stemming from such a cause is one year.

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