How a Business Can Maneuver the Difficult Insurance Claims Process after a Water Damage Disaster?
Blog Summary: SERVPRO® of Palo Alto explains how businesses affected by a water damage disaster can resume normal business operations and navigate the complex insurance claims process.
The team at SERVPRO of Palo Alto is dedicated to getting a business up and running as soon as possible after a commercial fire damage or a water damage disaster. A burst water pipe can disrupt and possibly shut down normal business operations. In business, time is money. Here are some tips to help business owners navigate the turbulent waters of the claims filing process. The goal is to ensure maximum coverage for water damage to a commercial building.
Not all burst pipe claims are the same
Some burst water pipe claims are more costly than others. This variation in the cost of the water damage cleanup and restoration reflects the difference in the extent of the actual damage. A flooded office may only require the repair of the damaged pipe and the replacement of the carpet. A slow, undetected leak may impact not just one office but several floors of offices. In a best-case scenario where the leak only lasts for a few minutes, the mini flood can soak flooring and walls. Repairs can cause the partial or total shutdown of the business.
Many considerations factor into the scope of damage from a burst pipe, including:
- The location of the business
- The design and construction of the building
- Fire sprinkler system
- Number of floors in the building
- The age of the structure
The location of the business
A burst water pipe is one of the most common causes of water damage in a commercial building. One of the leading causes of the ruptured pipe is freezing temperatures. A sudden drop in temperature can cause water in the pipes to expand, rupturing the pipe. Areas, where snow and ice are infrequent, may be at the greatest risk. Proper pipe insulation may have been neglected or ignored. On that rare occasion when the temperatures dip into the twenties, unprotected or exposed pipes freeze and burst, causing a massive water damage disaster.
The design and construction of the building
How a building is designed and constructed will have an impact on both the probability and scope of a water damage disaster. Burst water pipes are directly related to several common design and structural features. Water pipes in an unheated attic are at high risk of freezing during a cold snap. The failure to appropriately insulate pipes between interior and exterior walls can lead to a water damage surprise on Monday morning after a weekend cold wave. Faulty or substandard plumbing installation will become evident sooner rather than later.
Fire sprinkler systems
A fire suppression system in a commercial setting can effectively extinguish flames before fire damage is extensive. A fire sprinkler system also saves lives. A discharge from a fire suppression system can cause widespread damage, driving the flooding insurance claim to astronomical heights. Fire sprinklers emit large amounts of water under high pressure, and the overhead location and wide angle of the water discharge amplify the effects of the water damage.
Number of floors in the buildings
The physical properties of water are such that it will spread across floors, seep into porous materials, and stream into the lowest regions of a building. Water from the burst pipes contaminates everything in its path. A flood originating on an upper floor of a hotel, apartment complex, or office building may result in the owners having to replace lights, flooring, drywall, and carpeting on every lower floor affected by the water.
The age of the structure
An older building is subject to greater risks of flooding from burst pipes. Plumbing materials have a limited lifespan, and with age, the risk of a pipe burst increases. The costs associated with cleanup and restoration also tend to be elevated.
A failure in one section of the plumbing may indicate an imminent catastrophic failure of the system. The entire system may need to be replaced. The water damage restoration and repairs must meet current building codes, and this code compliance could be very costly.
Below are several important steps to take when a burst water pipe causes water damage in a business or commercial building.
Before a property damage disaster strikes, take time to understand the terms and conditions of the property damage insurance policy. The best time to work through this document is before a property damage disaster occurs. If needed, set up a consultation with an insurance agent to discuss the policy in detail. Focus on these three elements:
- what losses are covered by the policy
- what events will trigger coverage
- which, if any, coverages may be extended in a large-loss situation
In the event of a water damage disaster, take the following steps:
Step #1. Shut off the water flow to the burst pipe. This step may be as simple as turning off the main valve. In some instances, the services of a professional plumber may be needed.
Step #2. Notify the insurance company. Strict guidelines must be followed regarding prompt notification of losses. Early reporting allows the claims process to commence as soon as possible.
Step #3. Before any cleanup or restoration, document the extent of the damage with pictures and video. The goal is to capture the condition of the property damage immediately after the flooding occurs.
Step #4. Prevent further damage to the building.
Begin any reasonable or necessary flood mitigation, such as cleanup of standing water and drying procedures to prevent further losses. Do not make any permanent repairs until an insurance agent has inspected the damage.
Step #5. Complete and file the claim.
The claims process can be challenging, requiring extensive documentation, including an inventory, past and projected income estimates, and receipts for out-of-pocket expenses. Keep a copy of the claim.
The solution for dealing with a water damage disaster
A water damage disaster from a burst water pipe disrupts normal business operations. The goal is to get the doors open and the products or services flowing as soon as possible. The cleanup and restoration process and the insurance claims process are distracting and time-consuming. The solution is to call in the property damage professionals at SERVPRO of Palo Alto. Crews arrive in about an hour. A trained technician inspects and assesses the damage. A detailed and well-documented estimate (including photos and video) is presented to the customer. The industry-standard estimate meets or exceeds the rigorous demands of the insurance company. Cleanup and restoration begin without delay, as delays can lead to advanced secondary damage such as mold.
For more information about commercial water and fire damage restoration and cleaning services in Sunnyvale, CA, contact SERVPRO® of Palo Alto by phone at (650) 800-3448 or email at office@SERVPROpaloalto.com.