Never Settle For Less: Ice Dams and Water Damage

 
Residential Water Damage | Professional Loss Adjusters

When Brian Lannery was called to his customer’s Newton Center, Massachusetts, home last February, he crossed paths with the homeowners’ insurance adjuster who was there to inspect water damage to the home as a result of an ice dam. Lannery, owner of Bourke Painting, a Newton-based contractor specializing in fine residential house painting, renovation and repair, was shocked at the short amount of time the adjuster spent inspecting the damage.

“He was only there briefly. His inspection was not very thorough,” noted Lannery. A short time later, the insurance company offered the homeowners a settlement for the damage—a ridiculously low figure according to Lannery.

“When you walked in the house, your feet got wet. There was that much water throughout the house. The carpets were wet, the ceilings were wet, and parts of the ceiling were falling down,” added Lannery.

Lannery and the homeowners knew there was no way the insurance company’s offer would cover the extent of the damage. So, they decided to hire their own public adjuster to perform a more thorough examination, and that’s when PLA‘s Len Theran was called in.

The winter of 2015 entered the record books as one of the most severe winters in the Northeast—with more than $2.4 billion in insurance claims filed as a result of the 110+ inches of snowfall to the region. Ice dams accounted for the majority of the damage.

There is a complex interaction between a home’s heat loss, the amount of snow cover, and outdoor temperatures that lead to the formation of an ice dam. Over time the dam grows, fed by the melting snow above it. Water backs up behind the ice dam, finding cracks and openings in the roofing material and, ultimately, flowing into the attic space. From the attic, water flows into exterior walls, through the ceiling and elsewhere throughout the house. It is often difficult to pinpoint the origin, making the diagnosis difficult.

PLA meticulously inspected all of the rooms, walls, ceilings and attic spaces in the home, finding damage in 12 rooms. Photos were taken, moisture readings were performed and the total extent of the damage to the home and its contents was documented at more than six figures.

The image above illustrates the extent of the water damage to the home—some that could not be seen with the naked eye. A Flir E6 thermographic camera and Delmhorst Tech Check combination moisture meter were used to perform the survey. (Image courtesy of Graham Noll)

The image above illustrates the extent of the water damage to the home—some that could not be seen with the naked eye. A Flir E6 thermographic camera and Delmhorst Tech Check combination moisture meter were used to perform the survey. (Image courtesy of Graham Noll)

After five meetings with four separate insurance company adjusters, PLA’s claim and supporting documentation was accepted. The final claim was settled at 23 times higher than the original offer. Lannery and the homeowners were thrilled with the final settlement, which allowed Lannery to properly restore the home. We never settle for less. 

 
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Leonard Theran, SPPA

Len earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Stanford University. He has more than 35 years of adjusting experience and also earned the SPPA designation. Because he has also been involved in the management of several high-tech companies, Len has a unique perspective when adjusting industrial losses. He is a past-President of the Massachusetts Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (MAPIA) and is on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA) and CAI-New Hampshire. He has also qualified as an Expert Witness and has been a featured speaker before several organizations including the Risk and Insurance Management Society, the Institute of Real Estate Management and Lorman Education Services.

Len is licensed in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, Virginia, Oklahoma, Florida, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.