FROZEN PIPES AND WATER DAMAGE
It’s February! And as temperatures across the US trend toward extreme, sub-zero climates and severe wind chill factors threaten to freeze and burst a great deal of pipes! But, keep in mind that as temperatures rise, ice and ice dams may cause further damage to doors, windows, drywall, flooring and paint. Insurance claims for water damage, in general, have increased to nearly 50 percent of total claims filed in recent years, each averaging around $10,000 in cost. Its therefore understandable why insurance companies would want to avoid these claims as much as property owners do.
Expectedly, there are greater numbers of frozen pipes claims in colder climates. Areas with older homes (where contractors were commonly using cast iron instead of PVC piping up until the 1980s) are prone to a greater volume of damages due to pipe corrosion. When determined that damage from a frozen pipe could’ve been easily prevented, most policyholders will be denied by their insurance companies. It is therefore of paramount importance to educate policyholders on the preventative measures they can take to keep pipes from freezing wherever possible.
FROZEN PIPE CLAIM BEST PRACTICES
As a field or desk adjuster, there are several items to discuss and document on a water loss from frozen pipes. Here are some great things to document
- Ask the insured if heat was maintained on the risk?
- Ask the insured if the property have been vacant for any time period leading up to the loss.
- Ask the insured to have the plumber/handyman to leave the section of damaged pipe with instructions to show it to the field adjuster and to retain the piece until the claim is settled.
- Ask the insured to have the repair contractor to separate out cost for access to plumbing from the cost of the actual repairs.
- Ask the insured to involve mitigation experts depending on the severity to ensure that unknown/hidden damages are identified.
- Field adjusters should take a picture of the thermostat showing the interior temperature.
- Field adjusters should take good overviews of the area the plumbing lines are located and images showing the damaged section or repair sections of supply lines.
FROZEN PIPES COVERAGE
Each policy and individual state case law will have different criteria to determine if damages from frozen pipe claim will be covered. It is therefore important that as a local claims adjuster, you are current with the ongoing developments in your state’s industry to ensure that the insured individual’s claim isn’t covered or denied on a technicality.
When applicable Frozen Pipes Coverage will include:
- Water damage to home, property and/or contents, including personal effects, furniture and electronics.
- Costs relating to accessing plumbing, as in repairing drywall and flooring.
- Additional living expenses (or ALE) should homes become uninhabitable or need to be mitigated for mold and mildew damage.
At Vector Risk Solutions our client’s experience is the most important part of the claims process. We strive to lay a foundation of trust and look for the path of least resistance to resolution. We work to educate our team, so that our adjusters can provide outstanding service to our client base. Our knowledgeable and experienced claims adjusters are posted nationwide, to be available at a moment’s notice at any local claims site.
For more information on the complexity of frozen pipes claims or assistance with investigating related losses, contact us at 1-800-451-0798 or email any assignment to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to help you find unique solutions to complex issues created by cold weather.