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Frozen pipes lead winter-related insurance claims PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, March 16, 2014 8:12 PM


Staff Writer

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DELPHOS — The unyielding winter weather has taken a toll on every facet of our lives; from stressful driving conditions to the potholes in the roadways to the disastrous outcomes of frozen water pipes, the weather weary just want to put winter behind them.

Unfortunately, that’s not so easy for households who have or are still experiencing the effects of winter-weather damage to their homes.

Gilden Insurance owner Jerry Gilden said he has seen an increase in claims due to bursting water pipes this winter.

“We have had a dramatic increase in these types of claims as compared to the few previous years,” Gilden said.

Owner of Schmit, Massa and Lloyd Insurance and principal agent Bill Massa said with weather like this, it is commonplace to see exposed plumbing cause pipes to burst, especially with the zero and sub-zero weather the area experienced in February.

Gilden said claims of snow collapses have not been a big problem since up until the last storm — which was a wet and heavy snow — most of the accumulations have been lighter in weight.

“Any structures that were marginal or could sustain damage probably took a hit back in June of 2012,” Gilden reasoned. “The wind probably took care of them back then.”

Massa reported his office has not seen any issues with damage to roofs from the weight of snow or ice this winter. He said as a preventative maintenance measure, many folks shovel it off to be safe.

“The weight of heavy snows on older roofs can cause structural impairment and damage joists,” Massa detailed. “In such cases, homeowners will see water appear on their ceiling.”

Karen Dickman of Dickman Insurance said over all, the industry was hit pretty hard with frozen pipe claims and this winter, her office has handled a few broken/burst water pipe claims. In addition, one individual called about water backing into the house from the gutters.

“They sustained minor damage to a ceiling in their living room,” she said. “It did not amount to enough to file a claim.”

Massa said when water gets trapped in the gutter and freezes, it expands and ice is pushed into places it should not be; and once it starts melting, that’s when we see the water damage.

Gilden said there have been a few calls about water backing up in gutters — gutter dams — and in basements.

“Tiles around the house can freeze and block the water being pumped out by the sewer pump,” Gilden detailed.

Dickman said with the last big thaw, one individual called about water backing up in their basement. She said it’s good preventative maintenance to have a spare sewer pump on hand.

“Equipment like that only lasts so long and with the amount of work it was doing, it gave out,” Dickman said. “More often than not, that’s when it happens, during a big thaw or rain event.”

She said one thing they worry about is fires when temperatures get extreme. Fortunately, the company has had no claims due to fire.

“Space heaters and furnaces work overtime and sometimes do not stop,” she said. “People should have their heating systems checked during the latter part of the summer or early fall.”


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