Protecting Your Property for Storms in Lubbock

Now that the year is almost over, it’s time to evaluate 2016’s storm season in Lubbock and the greater south plains. We interviewed Joel Mowery, Co-Owner of SERVPRO of Southwest Lubbock. Together with Ron Hettler, President of Hettler Insurance, we have two experts on protecting property and restoring what is lost after a disaster.

The Biggest Snow Storm in 30 Years, Winter Storm Goliath

winter-storm-goliath

“The year started with a record snow storm, with large snow drifts on buildings and roofs. We had several commercial buildings where roofs had caved in due to the weight of the snow. With the high winds, we had snow blowing into the attic which was a major issue for some homeowners once the snow melted. Our crew had to physically crawl into attics and pull out all the wet insulation, before the drying process could even begin. We had many calls for a wet ceiling after the snowstorm, some even collapsed.”

Joel Mowery, SERVPRO

“The timing of Winter Storm Goliath was unfortunate. It happened at the very end of 2015, and a lot of property owners were out of town for the holidays and didn’t return for weeks. When they did return, they were faced with paying a deductible and filing a claim in 2016 just as they were receiving bills from Christmas shopping.

– Ron Hettler, HIA

April Showers Bring May Flowers and Flooding

flooding-lubbock

“The Lubbock area had heavier rains and flooding in Spring of 2016. We had customers that were devastated where their house was full of water and they had no flood coverage. Not only did SERVPRO remove carpet and padding, but in a lot of cases we had to remove drywall and cabinets throughout the house. For homeowners with mold, they lost all their belongings and they had no place to stay.

Rising water is a category 3 water loss which needs to be cleaned by professionals, due to health concerns regarding black water. If your home or business gets one foot of water throughout the property, it would be a major cost to not only repair the building, but replace everything inside. There’s also where to stay while the renovation is completed. This could be a two to six-month restoration process depending on the size of the property.”

– Joel Mowery, SERVPRO

Flood insurance can be purchased by any property owner, even if you aren’t in a flood zone as long as your community or county has paid to participate. Lubbock isn’t New Orleans, but it still floods and that was evident in 2016.

If you don’t own the building, buying flood insurance as a renter or condo owner can protect your belongings from rising water. Personal possessions are an option and need to be separately covered in a flood policy, up to $100,000.

Unfortunately, federal flood insurance does not cover relocation costs during a renovation or repair of a home. Hettler sells private flood insurance, which can cover relocation costs.”

– Ron Hettler

Hail Storms Pound Lubbock in 2016

hail-south-plains

Within two weeks, two different hailstorms hit Seminole, TX, the same homes in many cases. Are homeowners covered for damage in quick succession?

“Homeowners are covered for multiple storms. The deductible is a ‘per occurrence’ rather than a calendar year deductible so two separate deductibles would apply to both storms. If a second storm occurs before or after the repairs from the first are completed, then a new deductible would be taken off the repair/clean up costs or deducted from any additional or new damage.”

– Ron Hettler

What are common gaps in hail coverage that many homeowners don’t realize?   “There is rarely coverage for personal property outdoors. When your lawn chairs and trampoline end up a block over with holes in them, you’ll have to pay for those items yourself. Damage from rain or hail isn’t covered, if you leave your windows open on the home.

Replacement cost is another area of concern. If your roof is 50% worn out (still a good roof), then without replacement cost coverage, you would only get ½ of the cost to replace the roof in the event of hail or wind.  You would also have your deductible subtracted from any claim as well.

Hail is an occurrence coverage event, which means if the roof was totaled while:

  1. No coverage existed
  2. Owned by a previous owner
  3. A long time ago (sometimes just a year)….

You may not be covered at all when the hail damage is discovered.”

– Ron Hettler

What Storm Scenarios in 2016 Affected Insurance?

Wind driven snow, rain and hail.

“Many named peril (or basic peril clauses) in property policies don’t cover wind driven wind or snow. Many don’t cover collapse due to buildup of rain, hail or snow either. You need a broad policy traditionally called an “open perils” policy or “special” form to provide coverage for collapse.”

– Ron Hettler

Snow, Rain and Hail on a Roof.

roof-damaged-hail

“Hail hits a roof causing an opening that rain penetrates is almost always covered. What isn’t always covered is hail hitting a roof and the rain seeps through an opening caused by improper maintenance. Water damage from rain, snow/hail melt can also be blamed on improper roof maintenance.

There is a backup of sewer or drains exclusion on many policies and roof drains are still “drains”.  They become clogged with debris, water backs up on the roof, and the cause is improper draining.  Some carriers, not all, allow you to purchase coverage for roof drains backing up.”

Hail sometimes becomes a dam and causes water to backup into the home. That is an example where ‘flood’ coverage would need to exist for water damage caused by hail.”

– Ron Hettler

How Can Homeowners Prepare for 2017 in Lubbock?

Now is a great time to start getting ready for winter. Here’s a checklist from Joel and Hettler:

  1. Protect outdoor water fau Protect water lines in your attic and crawl spaces and make sure they are well insulated.
  2. If you have a fireplace, now is a great time to get a chimney sweep to prepare for winter.
  3. Make sure smoke detectors have fresh batteries. SERVPRO does more fire restoration in winter months than any other time of year. Make sure you have an emergency escape plan for you and your family in the event of a home fire. Have a fire extinguisher ready and be prepared!
  4. For companies, always give a copy of the insurance policy to managers and train staff on what to do in an emergency.
  5. For families, look at increasing homeowner’s policies and check flood zone maps which are updated every few years. It also doesn’t hurt to ask neighbors about damage they experienced and if they were protected.
  6. From what SERVPRO experienced, deductibles were a little too high. Several customers had issues paying out of pocket before the deductible kicked in. Choose a deductible that lowers the policy premium, but be prepared for paying the deductible. Hettler says that many insurance carriers require 1% deductibles (1% of the amount of insurance on your home) so consider setting up an account to save money for the unexpected.
  7. Prepare for 2017 now. Flood insurance policies have a 30 day wait before coverage starts unless you are involved in a closing. Waiting until a few days before or during a storm is not an option. Consider flood insurance now and fine tune your policy before storm season begins.

Posted on: December 6th, 2016 at 11:34pm by Ron Hettler. Filed under: business insurance, home insurance, Renters Insurance
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