Does Your Insurer Impact The Coverage You Need

Does Your Insurer Impact The Coverage You Need?

Imagine you come home one day to see a raccoon climb out of your attic vent and scurry down a tree. You hurry inside to investigate and find that the raccoon has done considerable damage to your attic. Will your homeowner’s insurance pay to fix it? Coverage varies.

What’s Covered?

Homeowner’s insurance generally covers damage to the structure of your home from things like fires and storms. If lightning strikes your home, the damage will be covered. Similarly, if a tree falls on your roof, your insurance will pay to fix it.

When you get beyond the basics, though, coverage varies. Insurers may cover different amounts of damage. They may also offer additional coverage that can be added to your policy. Often, homeowners don’t realize some damage isn’t covered until after it has already occurred.

Floods and Sewage

Most areas of the country are prone to storms. Although lightning damage is covered by standard policies, if the same storm causes your basement to flood, the damage to your basement will not be covered.

Along the same lines, if flooding causes your sump pump to fail or sewage to back up into your house, that’s usually not covered by standard policies either.

If you live in an area where flooding occurs, even infrequently, it’s a good idea to purchase flood insurance. Many insurers also offer coverage for sewer backup. Paying a small fee now helps you avoid footing the entire bill for cleanup later.

Earthquakes

Like floods, earthquakes are often left out of standard homeowner’s policies. If earthquakes are a concern where you live, it’s smart to purchase coverage that will allow you to repair damage or rebuild your home if necessary.

Mold

Mold is a serious problem that can damage the structural integrity of your home. It also poses a health hazard to you and your family. Unfortunately, the coverage provided by insurers varies widely.

Some insurers only cover mold if it is caused by specific perils listed in your policy. Others offer more broad coverage that pays for mold damage unless the cause is explicitly excluded.

Coverage for mold is often confusing, and many insurers attempt to exclude it altogether. It’s wise to ask your agent about specific scenarios to get an idea of what is covered under the policy you’re considering.

Animals

If we return to the scenario this post opened with, the good news is because it was a raccoon, there’s a good chance the damage is covered. However, there are exceptions. If your insurer finds that the raccoon was nesting in your attic for a prolonged period of time and you made no attempts to block its access, you may not be covered.

Unlike damage from raccoons, rodent damage is virtually never covered. If you have a rat, mouse, or squirrel problem, odds are you’re on your own. In contrast, if a deer crashes into your bay window or a bear pulls your door open and raids your cabinets, you’re probably covered.

When it comes to damage from animals, the damage usually needs to have happened in a single event. If it happened over time, your insurer may say you could have taken steps to prevent the damage.

If you live in a wooded area, where wildlife is plentiful, we recommend talking to your insurance agent to see what types of animal damage are covered by your policy.

ECOS has over a decade of experience working with insurance companies to get our clients covered. Whether you’re experiencing damage from water, animals, mold, or fire, we are happy to help you navigate the often-confusing process of getting insurance claims approved.

In the event that damage is not covered by your insurer, ECOS will work with you on the most cost-effective method of cleaning and restoring your home to a healthy environment. If your home has been damaged, don’t wait for problems to get worse. Call ECOS today.

Common Water Damage to Homes

The Most Common Damage Done To Homes With Water

Your home is your sanctuary, and it’s also a significant investment. Water is a constant threat that has the potential to do profound damage to your home. Below, we discuss the most common ways water damages homes and how to avoid four common plumbing issues that lead to them.

1. Broken Or Clogged Pipes

Plumbing is necessary for us to live healthy and comfortable lives, but when pipes break or become clogged, thousands of gallons of water could leak into your home. According to one report of the most expensive insurance claims made by homeowners, water damage from plumbing and appliances made up 19% of all claims.

The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors recommends regularly checking your pipes to make sure they aren’t leaking, dripping, or clogged. Additionally, make sure you know where your shut-off valves are. Labeling them can help you use them quickly to minimize water damage if a leak occurs.

2. Frozen Water Lines

Plumbing issues aren’t limited to leaky pipes and clogged drains. The weather presents its own set of issues, particularly in the winter. Water expands as it freezes, and that means your pipes may burst.

It’s wise to take steps to prevent your pipes from freezing. The American Red Cross recommends adding insulation to unheated spaces, removing and draining outdoor hoses, and draining swimming pool and sprinkler lines before winter.

Once cold weather arrives, leave cabinet doors open to allow warm air to enter spaces around pipes. Leaving the cold water dripping also helps keep pipes from freezing. It’s also a good idea to leave your heat on while you’re away and keep it turned up at night.

If your pipes do freeze, thaw them with a hair dryer or heating pad. Do not attempt to use propane, kerosene, blow torches, or similar devices. These pose fire and carbon monoxide risks to you and your family.

3. Appliance Failures

Many of the appliances in our homes use or produce water, including the refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher, air conditioner, and hot water heater. If these appliances fail, water can leak into your home.

The Insurance Information Institute suggests checking the hoses leading to your appliances on an annual basis. Replace any that are cracked, and get new hoses every five to seven years.

4. Sump Pump Failure

Homes with basements often have a sump pump. Sump pumps are designed to move water out of your basement and away from your foundation. However, if your sump pump fails, your basement can become flooded.

Since sump pumps run on electricity, a power outage is a common reason for failure. Having a generator can help get you through a power outage.

Sump pumps may also fail if they are the wrong size. Have a professional inspect your sump pump to make sure it can adequately address your home’s needs.

Dirt and debris can also clog your pump. Your sump pump should be serviced every six months to ensure it is working properly.

Getting Help With Water Damage

As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We always recommend taking steps to prevent water damage. However, emergencies happen, and if you experience a leak, we are here to help.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can clean up and repair the damage yourself. It only takes 24-48 hours for mold to colonize, putting you and your family at risk. Additionally, if sewage is a problem, bacteria and other pathogens become an immediate concern.

ECOS is here to help. We are on call 24-hours a day and seven days a week. If you are experiencing a leak or suspect water damage, give us a call. We’ll work quickly to minimize the damage done to your home and restore it to a healthy and safe environment.

Is There Sewage In Your Flood Water?

“It’s just water,” you think. What could go wrong if you just decided to dip a toe into the flood water and work your way to the other side? The water doesn’t look too deep or radioactive from afar.

That standing water looks passive enough, but flood waters pose various risks and may threaten you with injury, chemical hazards and infectious diseases. Don’t try to downplay the risks. Even if the current won’t carry you away, you still need to worry about the possibility of sewage in your flood water.

Sewage Can Leak Into Water During a Flood

According to the Scientific American, sewage floods are more likely to happen in the coming years as heavy rains increase. Between 1895 and 2011, rainfall has increased by two inches each year, and it’s only going to continue rising. In 2016, Baton Rouge, Louisiana faced a deluge of 20 inches of rain within 72 hours, necessitating 30,000 rescues.

Many families end up waiting until the flood hits their front door to evacuate, and then they have to do it by boat. What do they end up seeing and treading through? Raw sewage.

That’s what happened to folks in Baton Rouge. The city’s piping, booster systems and life stations were built around a century ago, and the system couldn’t handle the torrential downpour leading to what is known as a “sanitary sewer overflow” — or unsanitary, rather. Do you know how old the pipes are in your neighborhood? It’s worth looking into.

Cities are responsible for adhering to the Clean Water Act. Older systems are designed with fixed degrees of water and rainfall in mind, but more flexible systems need developing.

Outfall points release the sewage into larger bodies of water, but sometimes, shallow slopes don’t allow for proper flushing. In New York City alone, three billion gallons are released into just one stream — the Newton Creek. Find out about how your city treats and tests its water by visiting your government website and asking direct questions.

How Can You Get Ill From Sewage in Flood Water?

Fortunately, most modern people are good about washing their hands after using the restroom and cautious of spreading possibly infectious viruses and diseases. However, sewage in the flood water can spread fecal-oral diseases from the organisms that are released into the water.

These diseases spread from touching dirty hands to your mouth. Spreading can occur by direct contact with the flood water, sewage or someone who becomes sick with disease. You can also become sick by indirect contact with the flood water when you touch damaged furniture, toys or other items or consume food exposed to sewage-contaminated water.

If infected, you may experience nausea, cramps, fever, headache, vomiting and diarrhea. You should contact your doctor if you experience these symptoms for more than 48 hours.

That’s why it’s important to avoid contact with flood water as a rule of thumb in general. Find a sanitary facility to shower or bathe if you do come into indirect or direct contact with flood water. The incubation period for many fecal-oral diseases consists of one to three days.

Safety Practices Regarding Sewer Contaminated Flood Water

Reduce your risk of contamination and illness by avoiding flood water altogether. If you come in contact with a flooded area, wash yourself with clean soap and water as soon as possible.

Always wash your hands after you use the toilet or eat. Keep your hands under the clean water for at least twenty seconds as you scrub.

For decontamination of objects, in many cases, you can use about eight tablespoons of laundry bleach per gallon of water to preserve some toys and other household objects. Always discard cloth objects, such as clothes, plush toys or pillows.

Use gloves, masks and proper clothing to avoid contact with the water as you clean and throw away the trash. Open up the windows for ventilation.

These tips will help you get through light flooding, but even when the water doesn’t look too deep, you never know what sewage might linger in your flood water — chances are, it’s there.

Don’t risk your health. Contact ECOS Environmental to help clean up, sanitize and restore the area, documenting every step of the process for insurance purposes for you.

Water Damage

How Quickly Water Damage Escalates

Water Damage

When water damage occurs in your home or business, the problem does not go away with time. Secondary destruction takes place as more time passes, causing greater damage.

Overwhelmed gutters, leaking pipes, backed-up toilets and natural disasters are a few common causes of water damage. Water pools into corners, damaging every material it absorbs into as the clock ticks by. Here’s how quickly water damage escalates.

How Water Damages the Home Within Minutes

Did you know that water can damage your home within minutes? Here’s what to look for:

• Furniture finishes, sensitive to moisture, start to turn white.

• Carpets quickly absorb water, and furniture left standing on these saturated surfaces stain the carpeting.

• Water contamination increasingly spreads, accelerating claim costs.

How Water Damages the Home Within Hours

Minutes turn into hours, and as those hours tick by, water damage becomes more apparent.

• Furniture in contact with the spreading water swells and delaminates.

• Increased humidity amplifies everyday smells. The risk for mold development grows. Leaking toilets and food left out increases health risks, as these hazards interact.

• Non-colorfast fabrics dyes bleed.

How Water Damages the Home Within Days

Where moisture lingers, mold and fungi begin to appear, as wood warps and structures break down.

• Mold spores appear within 24 hours, and fungi grow — signaled by their distinct musty odors.

• Severe wood cupping and warping becomes apparent. After days, water damage to wood floors may mean replacing flooring in entire rooms.

• Wallpaper peels away as the adhesives release. Painted walls form blisters.

• Wood structures swell, split and warp.

At this point, if you act quickly to contact water damage restoration professionals, your home or business may be restored closer to its original condition before the loss occurred.

How Water Damages the Home Within Weeks

As the weeks pass, greater risks due to water damage threaten to your home and health.

• Mold roots itself into organic materials, destroying their integrity.

• Increasing health hazards force occupants to evacuate.

• Exposure to mold can result in allergic sensitivity and chronic respiratory issues.

• Weeks worth of water damage may require the residence or business being completely gutted to its bare bones. Occupants become displaced for long periods and claims shoot up astronomically.

Minimizing Water Damage

Basements are the primary culprits for water damage and mold growth, due to humidity, dampness and poor air circulation. The humidity and water in a bathroom can also generate moist, stagnant air, and this air makes for a perfect breeding ground for mold. Attics, laundry rooms and wall cavities are also prone to water damage.

Where there is moisture or condensation, water damage and mold growth can occur. Getting ventilation into the structure and removing furniture away from saturated surfaces helps reduce water damage. But you can only do so much within minutes and hours on your own. Your life and health are the higher priorities.

Do not take any chances. Be safe and get help cleaning up water damage before it accelerates. Water damage can lead to expensive and extensive repairs, but most of these challenges may be made as successful claims through one’s insurance company.

Microbial and mold growth can occur within 24 hours, compromising health for all inhabitants, even pets. Prevent additional damage to your home to save meaningful and important items as well as the structure itself.

ECOS professionals are certified water damage repair experts. With more than 10 years of experience in the industry, a quick response time reduces the risk of extensive damage and repair costs. ECOS professionals are with you every step of the way, as a reputable restoration company should be, documenting the damage before restoration and walking the claims adjuster through the property before and after services are rendered. Serving Colorado, call ECOS 24/7 at (888) 506-3165 to discuss your water damage concerns.

The Benefits of Using Dehumidifiers and Fans to Reduce Water Damages

 dehumidifier and fan

Water damages are a difficult process that will usually need your complete attention. This can become very hard for the homeowner, especially because the determination of what methods should be used to reduce any chances of further damages can get very serious and complex. This is why you should call a professional restoration company who can assess the extent of damages. In some situations, you might have to deal with water damages on your own, and your first dilemma will be between the use of a fan or a dehumidifiers.

Based on how the weather is:

Dehumidifiers are most commonly used when the weather is damp and wet. They can remove the moisture, but they can’t create a ventilation system with the air. This is why in sealed rooms, dehumidifiers are often preferred. One thing you should remember when it comes to using dehumidifiers is to clean them out regularly. Read more

4 Things to Remember When You Hire a Water Damage Specialist

Flood Damage In Home

 

One of the stress-inducing parts of having to deal with water damage as a homeowner, is the hassle of hiring a water damage specialist. The work that needs to be done is strenuous, time consuming, tedious, and the process can be very challenging for some homeowners. There are times when there is a lot of money invested in to the hiring process, and so it is understandable why some would feel frustration when things don’t fall in to place together, especially with a potentially hazardous situation on hands. To mitigate and make the process smoother, please read the guidelines below. Read more

Different Kinds of Water Damages

water damaged ceiling

One of the most important things that a water damages remediation team will do once they get to your home, is to determine the category of water damage, and the class of water damage. These categories and classes of damages are usually placed in the order of severity, and can help your team keep you and themselves safe during the restoration process.

Category one water damages:

Category one damages are considered to be safe. They pose no danger to you or the people around you, and will not harm your body or trigger allergies. Read more

Flooded Damage Colorado

A Comparison of Water Damages from Leaks and Flooding

Flooded Damage Colorado

As anyone who has ever dealt with water damages can tell you, the process is always unpleasant, regardless of why it is happening or how it started. But different kinds of water damages pose different problems. Leaks can cause a lot of problems, but so does flooding. When the question comes up based on which type of water damage is the most problematic, you will need to evaluate the types of problems based on different criteria.

Based on the extent of damages:
When the criteria is the extent of damages, the water leaks don’t come close to the damages produced by water flooding. This is because flooding occurs over a large area and as a result causes more damages. Leaks on the other hand only cover small areas and cause less damage. Read more

Keeping your pipes safe and sound this winter

frozen burst pipe

When cold weather comes around, you bundle up, make sure your pets are comfy; you need to give the same attention to your home.

Let us give you some advice on how to keep your pipes from freezing and how to thaw them out if you need too.

Keep your Pipes from Freezing

Insulate all Pipes, hot or cold Any pipes located in the crawlspaces around your house pipes in the in the basement or attic, and any pipes located directly on exterior walls should be protected with foam or fiberglass insulation.  Your insulation should fit tight with as few gaps as possible.  Duct tape should be used to secure the insulation into place, and seal any joints in the insulation; it is best if you assure that all pipes are completely covered.

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