Shatterproof Covers Hurricane Challenged Properties So Insurance Companies, Will Too
By Renee Burrell
Shawna and Bill Hargett of Shatterproof Protection in Clearwater
Hurricane shutters are said to be the most important protection for homes and businesses, yet four out of five have no type of system for wind protection in place. Soon insurance companies are expected to only provide coverage of properties with approved systems and when that is mandated, it will drive costs for the products sky high and result in long waits for individual installations.
Bill Hargett, the owner of Shatterproof Hurricane Protection in Clearwater, provides people in need of protection with some versatile and affordable options. One is a windscreen made of hurricane fabric. Shatterproof has serviced over 450 customers and is proud to have received no complaints.
Hargett evaluated storm and wind damage for insurance companies for 15 years before passing his expertise to his customers. Hargett says he went into business for himself after seeing the windscreen's effectiveness. "I chose to go into hurricane protection sales and installation due to the '04 season in which Florida sustained over $50 billion in damage after all was said and done. I got involved with Hurricane Fabric, Inc. and helped develop a windscreen system that can accommodate any large or hard-to-protect opening, including high rise balconies, which we can turn into a protected storm-room at the outer edge with our virtually invisible, patented anchoring system."
Hargett says the windscreens can save customers over 75 percent the cost of big and bulky conventional shutter systems that come with limited warranties and an iffy rate of approval from home owner's associations. "This windscreen product takes the place of products that are five to ten times more expensive," he claims.
Based on the savings on the wind premium granted by insurance companies, Shatterproof's products return of investment is typically five to seven years with a lifetime warranty on the installation. Our competitor's products take three times longer to pay themselves off and only come with five year warranties, putting the customer in a maintenance situation forever."
Hargett oversees each job. "We bring our reference list on every appointment for potential customers to view and verify. I am personally involved in every installation at some point, and for every job perform final inspections with the proper Building Department officials."
June 1 and the start of the hurricane season will be quickly upon us. "The first official prediction of the year by NOAA says we will see eight Hurricanes," states Hargett. "Four major hurricanes with a CAT 3 or higher, which are very destructive with a 79 percent chance that the USA will be hit somewhere. The water is warm off Africa and the prevailing winds are predicted to be in a slower pattern, which causes tropical storms to develop easier."
That prediction sounds a lot like last year's and since Floridians haven't had to undergo strong storms the last few seasons, authorities will soon be issuing warnings to communities about the dangers of complacency. Hargett sees complacency as not only dangerous but astronomically expensive, too.
He warns, "Complacency is a huge problem because sooner rather than later, all insurance companies will require wind protection on every opening of every dwelling in Florida for both business and residential properties. This will most definitely throw the supply and demand curve out of the customers' favor, and prices will sky rocket and installation times increase by 20 fold."
Many residents will rely on hanging plywood over windows, thinking all they need do is protect the glass from flying debris. Hurricane Fabric Inc. argues the case against plywood succinctly. "There is a common misconception that by shielding windows and doors with hard coverings such as storm panels, plywood or other barriers prior to a major storm event, the openings are secure and everyone inside is safe. WRONG! The real objective in preserving the openings is to save the roof, hence the entire structure. Here is how it works: As hurricane force winds strike the side of a building and are redirected over the roof, the wind speed can accelerate by as much as 30 percent going over the top. This vacuum puts a tremendous upward strain on the roof, much like the lift of an airplane wing. Any sudden positive pressure change created by a window or door blowing in will force the roof to yield to this pressure and fly off, creating the maximum breach of safety for the inhabitants and the ultimate property damage. With the primary structural component of a building gone, the building is declared a total loss and must be rebuilt from the ground up."
"It only takes one small opening to compromise the roof system and it will become very weak, very fast. Compromising the roof displaces families and businesses and takes three plus years to rebuild," says Hargett.
Hargett gives this advice, "The ultimate secret for your readers-- if they get nothing else is to at least get insurance approved, Florida building approved protection with a licensed contractor now! If you don't want to spend a relative small fortune . . . get our patented windscreens with a lifetime anchoring system. The real beauty is the system's simplicity coupled with a 75 percent savings compared to other shutter systems."
For optimum protection, Hargett advises getting storm windows, due to the fact that they're passive. . . But, he reminds, "Total costs for storm windows can be 20 times more than the windscreens and other solutions."
Shatterproof can and will install storm windows if desired. "In fact," says Hargett, "I recently saved a customer in the town of Belleair $135,000 dollars over storm windows. The job took only five days to complete and was finished, inspected, and approved just last week. I will gladly provide details to any interested party regarding that job."
As far as comparisons go, the price for protection is small when compared to, say, loosing everything. "If you lose your business it can take five years to rebuild. Can you trust your insurance company to reimburse you in a timely fashion so you can? There is still hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid claims due to the '04 season alone. Catastrophic loss claims are extremely difficult to prove when it comes to undocumented holdings, such as jewelry, heirlooms, priceless and irreplaceable works of art etc. . . .
"Shatterproof offers free estimates that take about one hour for most homes, with businesses and high rise condos taking a bit longer. At present, the whole process takes about one month from start to finish. "Our lead time averages 30 days in peak season compared to 50 to 100 weeks for roll down shutters during times of high demand," says Hargett. "During the '04 hurricane season, Roll-Away, now out of business, actually told my mother, it would take 53 weeks to perform a service call on shutters that were not operating properly in her roll-down system that she paid $50,000 over 10 years ago!"
"It is a mathematical certainty that the Tampa Bay area will have landfall of a major hurricane at some point, and it's not really a matter of, 'if'. The big question is 'when'," concludes Hargett.
Visit their website at: www.175mph.com for more information and to watch a quick two-minute video that shows how the patented windscreens held up against a super typhoon in Japan.
Call Shatterproof at 877-735-SAFE. Phone Bill Hargett on his cell at 727-858-4245.
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