By Cha già José from Vienna, Austria (Frozen Pipes Uploaded by darkweasel94) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
As a resident of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, I do not see temperatures fall below freezing very often. When this does happen it is usually for a brief time and residents usually do not have much worry. Last night and tonight put the South Louisiana region in rare air.
When temperatures fall below freezing for durations of such as these its considered a hard freeze
. I have clients, plumbers and HVAC companies who are working over time right now. It is very important for contractors and property owners to know what is happening and how to prevent a possible disaster.
The most common and most harmful result of a freeze such as this is for a water pipe to freeze and burst. I have had clients who have had water leaks for days without realizing and others for just a few hours and the damage was serious. Not only will the plumber bill be high to repair the broken pipe, but the water leak will cause significant damage as well.
If you own property that suffers damage from a frozen pipe breach, you will need to follow a few steps to make sure that you prevent harmful damage and then get made whole for any resulting damage.
Freeze Damage Prevention
Here, in South Louisiana we know how to protect property from Hurricanes and flooding but do not often experience sub-freezing temperatures. The two best ways to prevent pipes from freezing
are to keep water running by dripping a faucet or to wrap your pipes in insulation.
Contacting a licensed plumber or handyman to aid in the quick response is pivotal to mitigating damages. Any insurance claim will be reviewed with the insureds duty to mitigate its damages in mind. The best course of action here is to get the damage repaired and stop further damage from any water leaks. This can be costly and any insurance funds my not be available for months.
Preserving Evidence and Reporting Claim After The Freeze
Once you repair the pipe and remediate the water damage, a claim needs to be processed with your property damage insurance provider. You should obtain this information from your insurance agent or from your policy.
Proper and prompt notice of the damage are essential to any claim. The damage is significant and an insurance claim may be made, then you will want to take pictures as the damages is revealed and through the construction process.
Next you will want to properly notify the insurance company by initiating the claim process. This will be a formal claim made in writing. Many policies need a "sworn proof of loss" to accompany the claim stating exactly how much damage happened. This can be ascertained from the contract you had with the plumber and contractor to repair all the damage.
The insurance company will want to send out its own adjuster to review the damage. Many savvy owners will hire their owner adjuster to provide an alternative report to the insurance adjuster report.
Many times its helpful to retain counsel in more complex situations to make sure you maximize your recovery and make sure that the insurance company is not getting the better of you.