The holiday season is upon us and with all of the stress generally associated with this time of year, you probably haven’t given much thought to frozen pipes, roof collapses, ice dams, or any of the other property maintenance issues that can lead to water damage. However, as illustrated in one of our recent blog posts, water property damage can be costly, and is often not covered by insurance. Given that there is an increased risk of water damage this time of year, it’s vital that your nonprofit plan and prepare for the upcoming winter season.
If you haven’t read our blog on water damage claims, you may not be aware that typically, property policies exclude water damage unless something else is accidentally or suddenly damaged first, such as with wind or fire. For example, let’s say the gutters on your building are rusty and water is not being properly diverted off your roof. Then a rainstorm comes along and pushes water through the weakened area into your roof and water leaks under the eaves, into your walls, and starts to pool. Because this damage is due to improper maintenance and not a sudden, unforeseen event, it is not covered by your insurance.
Whether it’s a slow leak, a frozen pipe, or a full-fledged flood, water damage can have a negative effect on your organization and its ability to provide services to the community. Not only can water and moisture damage the interior of your building, but it can also damage or destroy fire protective equipment and electrical equipment. Another unforeseen issue that is more likely to arise in the cooler, wetter months as a result of unwanted water or moisture is mold. Like most water property damage, mold damage is generally not covered by insurance, as it is considered preventable with proper maintenance.
While every building is unique, each is at risk for water damage, whether from a minor roof leak, improperly maintained plumbing, or a violently destructive storm. Before the weather takes a turn, give your premises a good lookover for early signs of damage or wear-and-tear, including damaged flashing, gutters and drainpipes, or broken windows. Identify and repair all leaks and cracks in windows, doors, and exterior walls, as well as in the building’s roof, foundation, plumbing and HVAC systems.
A properly maintained building is only part of protecting your organization’s facility from water damage. Also be sure to check all drains, gutters and down spouts for leaf litter, debris and other clogs or obstructions that cause water to collect or travel toward a building. Remember, standing water is a tell-tale sign that water is not draining properly. As a precautionary measure, also consider labeling your water shut-off valves clearly so that they are clear and noticeable, in case of an emergency plumbing situation. Repairing damage early can prevent more extensive damage from winter weather conditions.
Here are links to a few resources from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) for your reference: