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Beware Roof Collapse, Ice Dams and Frozen Pipe Burst from Winter’s Deep-Freeze and a Tip from the Red Cross

Beware Roof Collapse, Ice Dams and Frozen Pipe Burst from Winter’s Deep-Freeze and a Tip from the Red Cross

With New England and now the eastern United States in a deep freeze from record snow and ice accumulation, remember the old saying, it’s the darkest before the dawn.  Yes, there will be a spring and it’s just around the corner according to the Old Farmers Almanac. Spring, also called the vernal equinox comes in the Northern Hemisphere on March 20th at 6:45pm to be exact. This shouldn’t minimize the extensive property damage being caused this winter as this excellent article on Ice Dams discusses. Many of our staff are gearing up to head north in order to help current clients and work with our public adjuster partners.

So all the folks in New England and elsewhere, need to hang tough for a little while longer.  In the meantime, with more snow predicted, things could get a lot worse with roof failures due to heavy loads of snow, frozen pipes and ice dam problems.

I suspect the extreme cold will abate before the official Spring date so a lot of snow and ice will start to melt causing additional issues. As things thaw, there will no doubt be significant water losses to buildings interiors. You may want to check your insurance policy, as some will have named perils that may exclude coverage for contents unless there is direct physical damage caused by a named peril in the policy. Particularly for your contents also know as personal property. The Red Cross recognizing the frozen pipe severity put out a very useful publication Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes that we want to share with you and suggest you read or pass along to a northern relative.

Please remember that structural damages from heavy snow loading may not be apparent even after the snow is cleared off.  Our firm was just retained on a condominium roof failure where one section of the roof completely collapsed. The problem may have been developing for a while as the support beams holding the trusses were hidden from view in the crawl space above the unit owner’s ceilings.

It would behoove property owners with heavy snow loading to have inspections by professionals to ensure structural components in the roofing system have not been compromised.  Remember, just like our current condo client, roof and structural damage may start before the actual physical collapse occurs.  Damages that may have occurred or that unknowingly develop and result in a failure may also complicate an insurance claim. Especially if you change insurance companies or your carrier later raises a policy defense that you failed to mitigate the loss because you should have been aware of the problem given the widespread publicity regarding roofs being overloaded from the near record breaking snow event.

Finally, as a preventative measure, it may be a good time to get a licensed and reputable water extraction contractor lined up and on-call for clean-up that may be required when the melting process starts. Those folks will be busy and you may need professional help to mitigate your loss. If you have questions regarding any property insurance claim related issues please call 800.321.4488 or contact us to submit a question to one of our public adjuster or insurance claim experts.

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