Winter Is Here. Are Your Insureds Following Reasonable Standards of Care?
A Note from our President Doug Bentley
Several years ago here at Friedline & Carter, I took over a freeze-up loss adjustment for an insurer who had originally assigned the loss to another adjustment firm. The evaluation was months along, and substantial payments had already been made.
As I examined the loss and its details, it was clear that multiple pipes had frozen and split, causing significant water damage. To my surprise, I discovered no investigation had been completed to determine why the freeze-up had occurred and whether the insured had followed reasonable standards of care in maintaining heat in the dwelling.
Friedline & Carter’s service area includes a large percentage of secondary or vacation homes, so many years before assuming this loss adjustment, we had developed a Freeze Loss Questionnaire that we require an insured to complete in response to any freeze-up losses. This questionnaire provides details as to how the home was used, when it was last visited or occupied, any caretaker services employed, the type of heating system (gas, oil, etc.), the maintained inside temperature, the number of zones, and various other questions related to the insured’s “reasonableness” in protecting the property from a plumbing freeze-up. We also require the insured to produce two years of heating (oil, gas, propane) and electrical records. The insured sign the questionnaire as to its accuracy. Currently, I find most insurers are now using their own version of this questionnaire.
With the questionnaire’s information, we can determine “reasonable care” and whether further investigation is needed, such as obtaining water records (Several towns in our area now can supply daily reading allowing us to pinpoint the exact date of loss and compare it to the insured’s questionnaire answers.), having heating systems examined or enlisting engineering consultants.
At Friedline & Carter, our message is simple. If you experience a frozen plumbing loss, we can help.
Connect with Doug:
508‐771‐3232 Ext. 225