Viewpoints from Timothy Brenneman
Imagine returning home after a long day, only to find your kitchen ankle-deep in water from a burst pipe, your floors ruined, and your appliances damaged. Leaking dishwashers, faulty toilets, and the dreaded burst water pipe – these are not just nightmares, but unsettling realities that homeowners face in the battle against water damage. According to Kevin Daley, EPIC’s Private Client Practice Leader, at least two leading insurance companies indicate the average water damage claims nationally are approaching $100,000. Coupled with the fact that 1 in 50 homes experiences a water damage claim annually, this can understandably cause concern for even the most cautious homeowner. The added inconvenience of a 90-day repair timeline or longer amplifies these concerns.
EPIC receives an abundance of homeowner claims across insurance carriers related to water damage. The primary culprits behind water damage are home appliances and plumbing failure. And don’t assume that water damage won’t strike a second time. Homes that have experienced water damage before are actually twice as likely to face similar incidents in the future. The issue of insurance eligibility due to repeated water claims is also a significant concern. This cycle can be broken through preventive measures.
The most effective strategy to avoid and minimize water damage involves the installation of an automatic water shut-off device. This device provides preventative measures, promptly detecting leaks and abnormal water consumption throughout the household. When a threat is detected, the system immediately shuts off the main water supply, preventing further damage, and instantly notifies the homeowner. This technology is paired with a smartphone app that provides real-time notifications for remote monitoring. The system can also integrate with your existing home security or “Smart Home” setup. To further mitigate water damage, consider installing flow-based leak water sensors at vulnerable water points in your home, including plumbing fixtures, appliances, water supply lines, sump pumps, hot water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, ice makers, toilets, and water softeners. These sensors will offer timely alerts if a leak or overflow occurs, allowing you to turn off water access to the water supply. It’s estimated that these water mitigation devices have the potential to decrease water claims by up to 93%.
Water sensors are effective at detecting:
- Malfunction of water supply lines to appliances, sinks, wet bars, and toilets.
- Bursting of pipes due to aging, freezing, or deterioration.
- Failures in plumbing systems or appliances.
- Overflows from sinks, toilets, and bathtubs.
- Issues arising from faulty construction practices.
EPIC’s Personal Insurance teams have the capability to research your insurance carrier’s preferred water mitigation system. Together with a licensed local plumber, they can provide guidance on selecting the most appropriate water mitigation system for your home. An added benefit of installing such a device is that homeowners may become eligible for a premium discount on their homeowner’s policy. These discounts vary by state and insurance company, so it’s important to consult with your EPIC advisors to understand how it will specifically impact your policy. Depending on factors like the size of your home and your annual premium, discounts can range from $200 to $2,000. It’s also worth noting that, in the aftermath of a water loss, many insurance companies are now offering an additional benefit as part of their water damage claim coverage. Some companies will contribute up to $2,500 toward the purchase and installation of a water mitigation device to help reduce additional water damage claims.
Insurance companies have also started to require water mitigation systems as part of new business eligibility. Given the size and frequency of water damage claims, this trend is likely to develop a new standard.
Water damage is an escalating concern that homeowners can no longer afford to ignore. With the frequency of incidents on the rise, the financial implications and inconveniences are substantial. By adopting preventative measures, such as automatic water shut-off devices, homeowners can safeguard their properties, reduce risks, and potentially reap financial rewards through insurance discounts. Don’t wait for a disaster to strike; take control of your home’s safety today.
Strategies to prevent water damage
- Regular check-ups and maintenance can help identify potential issues early, preventing major water-related problems.
- Replace supply lines every ten years to avoid unexpected leaks and failures.
- Swap out rubber washing machine hoses with steel braided hoses for enhanced durability and leak resistance.
- Add drains to laundry rooms on the upper floors to prevent flooding in case of leaks or appliance malfunctions.
- Install water detection devices and flow-based water leak sensors that can automatically shut off the water supply when a leak is detected, providing an extra layer of protection.
Timothy L. Brenneman, CIC
President and National Private Client Practice Leader