Why a Property Inspection Needs to Consider Winter Flood Risk

Why a Property Inspection Needs to Consider Winter Flood Risk
Flooding, particularly in Florida, is the number one re-occurring natural disaster to impact properties in the United States. Unfortunately, when the temperatures dip during the winter months, more properties are vulnerable to experience winter flooding.
The “bomb cyclone” Winter Storm Grayson that recently made its way up the East Coast is a prime example of the tremendous damage that winter flooding can do to properties. Coastal waters reached record highs in the Boston area, and vehicles were seen floating in streets in suburban Massachusetts. The town of Winn, Maine received approximately 20 inches of snow over the course of two days. As this snow melts, homeowners may be impacted by water seeping into the property’s foundation, roof leaks, flooded basements, and more.

While properties can experience flood damage at any time during the year, it’s especially important to consider the winter flood risk when underwriting properties. Insurance carriers can offer a lot of value to insureds by conducting a property inspection to assess for potential winter flood risks.

Here are some areas that a property inspection should address in regards to winter flood risks:

1. Ensure that the foundation is protected.
If the property’s foundation is not adequately sealed, water has the potential to enter the property. A property inspector can help to identify cracks in a weakened foundation and other areas where water could enter the property. A property inspection can make property owners aware of vulnerabilities with the foundation so that they can take precautions to minimize flooding risk.

2. Check gutters.
A property’s gutters can become blocked during the winter months due to leaves, sticks, and other natural debris. When gutters are not able to drain water, they can cause serious structure damage to the property. Standing water in gutters can destroy shingles, cause wood rot, and lead to mold growth.

3. Inspect water heater.
The average lifespan for a water heater is anywhere between 8 and 12 years. If a property uses a traditional tank-type water heater, it should be inspected on an annual basis. As the water heater reaches the end of its useful life, the tank can corrode and flood the property. Considering that the average tank holds 80 gallons of water, a burst water heater tank can cause significant flood damage to a property.

4. Inspect Plumbing System.
As temperatures dip down during the winter months, the potential for burst pipes increases. Exposed pipes in unheated areas of the property such as the basement, attic, and under sinks pose the biggest risk. A property inspection may reveal that insulation should be added to these unheated areas. While Florida offers a mild climate, it is possible for temperatures to reach freezing temperatures in the winter. If a freeze is in the forecast, property owners should drip faucets to prevent pipes from bursting.

Insurance carriers need to take winter flooding into consideration when underwriting properties, and conducting a winter property inspection can add a lot of value to insureds that want to protect their properties.

Our team at Insurance Risk Services has more than 35 years of experience in conducting thorough in-person property inspections for insurance carriers. Contact us to learn more about how our accurate underwriting support can help you to make more informed decisions.