After several extraordinary winters of snow and ice, there have been tens of thousands of homes and other buildings that have suffered damage from ice dams and subsequent water damage. Here is our opinion of what you should do to deal with this situation.1. First, eliminate the source of the water. If there is snow or ice on the roof, hire a roofer, contractor, or remediation company to remove it. Many insurance companies are paying from $300 to $550 per roof. If there is a broken pipe, shut off the water supply and call a plumber to fix the break. Keep all the parts that are replaced. You have an obligation under the terms of the policy to prevent further damage.
2. Report the claim to you insurance company or agent. You will be asked for information such as:
- When did it begin?
- Have you done anything to the home?
- Are the dams or snow still in place?
- Describe the damages? Be careful and thorough when answering. You want to make certain that you give a true and complete picture. Describe all the damage and don’t leave anything out.
- If you have hired us, let the insurance company know and give them our contact information.
- Request an immediate meeting with an insurance company adjuster. If there is widespread damage, there could be a time lag before the insurance company schedules an inspection, even if they have brought in adjusters from other parts of the country. (It's the nature of the business when so many others are affected.)
3. Document the loss with photos. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is taken.
4. Call a remediation company such as a local ServPro or ServiceMaster franchise or other reputable local company immediately. Your agent or Public Adjuster can advise you as to who are the good remediators in your area. Here is a checklist of what a remediation company should do:
- Use moisture meters (hand held or infrared camera) to determine where the affected areas are. You should point out areas of concern when the inspection is being performed.
- Decide the best course of treatment to deal with the water intrusion. The remediation company will use multiple tools to help with the dry out. They may bring in several “whistle” fans, dehumidifiers and other devices to help dry out. Remove interior and exterior wet drywall; insulation will likely be done as required.
- Apply antimicrobial solution to prevent mold or mildew growth.
- Remove other building components (such as carpeting) as required.
- Move personal property where needed.
- Do what ever else is needed to dry out the building and its contents.
It is your obligation to reduce the damage. Mold can develop in days and mold coverage in water damage claims is typically limited to $10,000. For many reasons, it is best to prevent mold from occurring.
If you wait for your insurance company's adjuster to appear, it may be too late to do a proper remediation job. A professional remediation company should know what they can do without jeopardizing the claim.
I you do not hire a professional remediation company, do not remove material or dry out the property yourself unless your insurance company adjuster approves the work beforehand. Otherwise, the adjuster may feel that the work was not required or not done properly. You could then have difficulty getting paid for the work you did and for the cost of restoring the property.
If this is a significant claim, give us a call at 888-747-8260 for a no-obligation assessment of your situation. We are here to help you substantiate the damage, submit your insurance claim and help you get a fair settlement from your insurance company.
[Download the checklist: Things You Should Do Immediately Following an Insurance Loss]