Deep Freeze Will Create Frozen Pipe Leaks and Water Damage Insurance Claims
A historic deep freeze is gripping the US with sub-zero temperatures and even more serious wind chill factors. With it will come unprecedented frozen pipe bursts, iced dams and roof collapses that will cause extensive property damage and loss to personal and commercial property as well as business inventory. As for homeowners, if you discover a leak, turn off your water, call in a reputable plumber, inform your insurance company of the damage and get their agreement to fix and pay for the damage before hiring a reputable clean-up company.
Remember, it’s not only the visible damage that will immediately occur from the freeze. As the snow and ice starts to melt and exposes the damage, there will be significant water losses to building interiors. Property owners need to be vigilant and not fall into a false sense of security if you see no immediate damage. You may want to check your insurance policy, as some will have named perils that may exclude coverage for contents unless there is direct physical damage caused by a named peril in the policy, particularly for your contents, also known as personal property. The Red Cross recognizing the severity of frozen pipes put out some very useful tips Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes that we want to share with you and suggest you read or pass along to any friends or family.
We also expect the deep freeze to take a toll on municipal infrastructure as it pushes south and impacts infrastructure pipes that could be over 100 years old. We also have seen schools and other public facilities experience frozen pipe damage. When there is widespread damage from weather events, we’ve seen these local governments bring in Public Adjusting firms to manage their claims since they are typically short on expertise and resources and need their staff to concentrate on keeping the local government running for its citizens.
Please remember that structural damages from excess cold and heavy snow loading may not be apparent even after the snow is cleared off. Our firm was previously retained on a condominium roof failure where one section of the roof completely collapsed. The problem may have been developing for a while as the support beams holding the trusses were hidden from view in the crawl space above the unit owner’s ceilings.
It would behoove property owners with heavy snow loading to have inspections by professionals to ensure structural components in the roofing system have not been compromised. Remember, roof and structural damage may start before the actual physical collapse occurs. Damages that may have occurred or that unknowingly develop and result in a failure may also complicate an insurance claim. Especially if you change insurance companies or your carrier later raises a policy defense that you failed to mitigate the loss because you should have been aware of the problem given widespread publicity about record cold and roofs being overloaded from water laden frozen snow.
Finally, as a preventative measure, it may be a good time to get a licensed and reputable water extraction contractor lined up and on-call for clean-up that may be required when the melting process starts. Those folks will be busy and you may need professional help to mitigate your loss.
If you have questions regarding frozen pipes or freeze related insurance claims please call 214-396-5768 or contact us to submit a question to one of our public adjuster insurance claim experts.