Summer is upon us. I hope you all are staying safe and enjoying the hot weather.
I wanted to take a few moments to discuss two of the most frequent summer claims and a few tips to prevent them from happening.
They all relate to water damage from heavy rain. This can come in a number of different ways:
The most severe is flooding. In general, flood is excluded on the homeowners policy and must be purchased separately.
There are cases where if your home is located in a flood plain and there is a mortgage, the lender will require coverage. Otherwise, it is up to the homeowner to decide if they want flood coverage and purchase it from their agent.
Some carriers are starting to create endorsements for inland flood coverage that can be added to a homeowners policy. If you have interest in finding out more, give your agent a call.
Basement Water Pooling
More commonly, the water damage comes from a heavy rain where water pools near the house and then gets in through basements walls or windows. Water can also back up from underneath the home because the sump pump cannot keep up or a municipal sewer system malfunctions.
In the case of the pooling water, the homeowners policy, again, will not respond before water coming in from the ground or seeping through basement walls is excluded.
How to Prevent Water Damage
There are a few easy things that we can do in the spring and early summer to prevent this issue:
First, make sure that gutters and downspouts are clear of debris. If those things get a lot of water and they are not working properly water will often times cascade over the gutters, collect near the house, and ultimately find its way in.
The second thing that can happen is that the grade of the ground near the home way actually ends up collecting the water. A constant malfunction of the gutter system might lead to this, but it can also happen if you do a project around the house or the ground just settles differently than previous years. An easy thing to do here is just take a quick lap around the house after a heavy rain and make sure there are no pools or puddles in unexpected places near the home.
It is also a good idea to make sure that if you have any window wells or egress windows, that the water is not finding its way in there. We do see issues from time to time where the water enters through a window well and that is also not covered on the homeowner policy.
Water Back Ups
If water backs up through a floor drain or sump pump, this is also excluded on your basic policy. In these cases, however, you can purchase coverage for water back up to protect yourself.
The coverage is sold in $5K increments typically from $5-50K. We always suggest having at least $5-10K to cover cleanup and some minor repairs.
We have found the average cost of a claim has increased significantly as the technology to clean the water has improved. The end result is a better way to treat the damage so that mold and other future issues are prevented.
Again, keeping the water away from the home is one way to prevent. Another big thing would be to test the sump pump equipment periodically to make sure it is operating. Finally, if you do not have one, installing a battery backup system on the sump system could eliminate a backup issue if the power goes out. We see many claims as a result of power outage and a sump failing.
As always give your agent a call to discuss any of these concerns.
Thanks again for the opportunity to protect your families.