You're Most Likely Underinsured
Water Damage throughout a finished basement can easily cost more than $5000 to fully repair. Make sure you have what you need when the time comes.
The Man Family Cave
I was supposed to have the project done before my son was born, but before I knew it, there he was at 2 years old, climbing through the cabinets I was about to install as part of my basement remodel. It turns out that when you do it yourself, it takes a little longer! When I finally completed it, my family had a re-vamped basement that we could use for entertaining, playing or just connecting while watching a movie together. I was proud of my work and began to add up all the money I saved by doing it myself. Then I thought about the money I spent just on materials like carpet, drywall, paint, cabinets and tile not to mention the furniture and my son’s toys.
Being a SERVPRO owner, I know that the most common damage in basements is water damage. There are all kinds of sources like broken pipes, water heaters, washing machines, water softener tanks and of course anything that happens upstairs will eventually find its way down to the basement. But I felt really good knowing that if any of those things happened in my revamped basement my insurance would kick in and I could have someone else repair it!
Not So Fast!
Our customer was a young traveling sales rep and was gone from her home for several days at a time. This particular time, she had returned to find that the basement she just recently spent thousands of dollars to have finished sustained a water damage. There was a drain in the laundry area that backed up after a heavy rain and it was estimated that only about an inch or two of water got into the basement, but it made its way all over. By the time she returned home to find her wet basement and called us out, the water had already wicked up the walls about 14 inches!
No worries though! Insurance was there to cover the loss and everything was returned to preloss condition with little-to-no financial harm to the customer, right? I wish I could say that was the case. However, our customer discovered that this source of loss was only covered by a special coverage attached to a homeowner’s policy. Good news – she had that coverage. Bad news – there was limit of only $5000!!! For this job we had to cut out drywall 2ft from the floor, tear out carpet, remove baseboards, steam clean, apply a sanitizer and install drying equipment just to get the basement clean and dry. There was also a small bar that had to be removed and 4 rooms of furniture that sustained water damage plus the cost of repairing everything that had to be removed. I’m sure you can see that $5000 left our customer woefully underinsured.
The next day I began to think about my own basement and a particular drain right in front of the washing machine. I knew that I had drain back-up coverage, but I never really looked at my policy in detail to see how much. My basement wouldn’t be nearly as expensive to repair as our recent customer's if the same thing happened, but I also knew that it would take more than $5000. The next day I called my agent and found out that that I did indeed only have $5000 of coverage, so I asked to increase it. At that time, for an extra $50/year I could increase my coverage by $20,000 with my carrier. What a bargain!
All Things In Moderation
I’m not saying to run out and buy a bunch of insurance for drain back up if you don’t need it. I’m not saying go buy $50,000 or $100,000 of drain back up coverage if you do need some. However, I highly recommend taking a quick inventory of what you have in your basement and maybe do some online shopping to see what it might cost to replace those items if they were damaged by either rain water or sewage backing up from a sump pump or drain. Think about the materials that were used to finish your basement. Tile can withstand water damage especially when installed on concrete. Carpet may survive a sump pump or water heater failure, but it has to be disposed of if the water originated from a sewer drain. Cabinets may survive a sump pump failure, but not if the water sits long enough to cause warping. My advice is to work with your insurance agent to determine the right coverage for you and your situation. If you need this special coverage, you will be happy you have it if you sustain this kind of loss. If you need higher limits because you have more to lose it will cost a little more, but you will be relieved that you have it if you ever need it. Make sure you review your policy or call your agent today before it’s too late.
The last thing you want is to find out it’s going to cost more than you have to put your home back “Like it never even happened.™”
It Will Be Alright Again
Sunrise on Virginia Beach . . . nothing more to say.
The Sun Is . . . Rising
While in Virginia Beach helping to clean up from the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew I was fortunate enough to stay right on the beach. (It turns out off season rates are as good as anywhere else in the area!) I began taking a picture of the sunrise over the ocean each morning because I don't get that opportunity very often and I would send the picture to my wife each day.
I was in Virginia Beach throughout the Presidential campaign season I returned home just before election day. When I was looking back over my pictures from this trip I saw this particular sunrise and thought of a story I have heard several times over the years. It is said that when the Constitutional Convention was concluding Benjamin Franklin commented on a chair that George Washington had been sitting in throughout the convention that had a semi-circle sun carved into it. He said that he was unsure if that was a rising sun or a setting sun throughout the convention. Finally, at the end of the convention he became certain that for America, the sun was indeed rising.
When I thought of that story and this picture of the sun rising over Virginia Beach I thought about this Hurricane and all the other Storm Events that I have travelled to. I thought about all the storms that have hit our country in the past and I thought to myself, it's going to be alright for these people. Our country is at its best when helping those in need and we have an amazing ability to overcome difficulties in order to keep moving forward. That story of the rising sun chair and the picture I took reminded me that everyone on the East Coast that was affected by Hurricane Matthew may never be the same and it may take a long time to fully recover. But I am certain because of the people I met that for Virginia Beach and any other community affected, the sun is rising.
City crews in Virginia Beach take garbage from the mess created by Hurricane Matthew. Servpro was there to take care of people and property.
Too much Too Fast
Recently we were able to serve customers out of town that were affected by Hurricane Matthew. While North Carolina grabbed most of the headlines, our crew was sent to Virginia Beach, VA. It never ceases to amaze me how nature can put a wrench in our plans by damaging our property. We saw a tremendous amount of damage, not from ridiculously strong winds or trees falling on homes, but from flooding. While I certainly believe that North Carolina sustained heavier damage, Virginia Beach got a lot of the rainfall that accompanied the hurricane which caused pockets of extreme flooding. One of our customers was injured during the flooding and rescue crews had to use a boat to get him from his house to an emergency vehicle. I couldn't imagine having to boat up to my front door!
Many Hands Make for Light Work
Once the flood waters receded it was time for SERVPRO to go into action. One thing that excites me about this company is our ability to respond in times of need. SERVPRO's Storm Team is able to organize and send hundreds of crews to help when our customers need it the most. We have the resources to get all the equipment, supplies, tools and trained team members to the right spots quickly. It was phenomenal yet again to see so many SERVPRO trucks and vans from so many different parts of the country helping a city in need.
Help Isn't Just Being There, It's More
It's not just quantity that matters. We follow the same standards to help flood victims that we do every other day of the year. It's important to me that our customers know that we are there to help, not to take advantage of the situation they are in. Some contractors only see dollar signs. We follow IICRC standards for completing the job and we use the same estimating and pricing system that we always use. I found that this allowed our customers to trust us immediately even though we were from out of town. And trust is important to helping restore our customers. After all, it's important to restore the property, but it's more important to restore the customer's faith that it will be alright.
Our crew recently returned home from a two week trip to Chicago to aid in storm damage cleanup. On the night of April 17th the Northern Illinois and Western Michigan areas recieved around 5-7 inches of rain. SERVPRO was ready and dispatched one of our Storm Teams to help the massive amounts of customers with flood damage.
Our Storm Teams were developed precisely for this type of situation and have specially designed systems to get help to our customers as fast as possible, even during trying times like these. SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves is proud to be a member of the Storm Team that responded to the Chicago area.
We handled many different situations during our trip from an inch or two of water all the way up to 5 1/2 feet of water in basements. Some basements were not finished and some were. Many of the customers we helped experienced sewage backing up into their basement because the storm and sewer drainage systems in the area could not handle the tremendous amount of rain. Thankfully we are always ready with the knowlegde, training, equipment and willingness to handle even the toughest jobs. In Chicago we definately helped to make it "Like it never even happened."™