Water Loss? Albatross!
Most of us who survived high school remember the two lines immediately following this famous passage from Samuel Coleridge's poem, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" -- the one about having "water, water every where/nor any drop to drink" However, for the adjuster who is handling a nasty water damage claim, shrinking boards and soggy couches are far more worrisome than finding the next bottle of Evian.
Water, by far our most precious resource, can also be one of our cruelest, most insidious foes when it shows up in abundance. In windstorms, broken windows and damaged roofs are wrenching enough. But what about the rest of the home's contents, now that all the rain from the storm has seeped into the home through the cracks? After a few days, a damaged roof will still be a damaged roof. Waterlogged carpets and sheetrock, on the other hand, will become veritable mold farms. What was once merely a damaged home is now an uninhabitable, costly mess.
Last year, we got a sobering look at the awesome destructive force of slowly rising water. Hurricane Floyd, a medium-sized, Category 2 storm by the time it hit the North Carolina coast last September, caused an estimated $1.3 billion in insured losses. Some insurers breathed a sigh of relief, since they had been expecting more than $4 billion before the storm's winds weakened. The rain, however, did not follow suit. In some areas, Floyd dumped 29 inches of rain in a 24-hour period, plunging most of eastern North Carolina under water.
Nearly a year later, the uninsured loss tallies from Floyd are still incomplete. FEMA recently reported that it spent in excess of $1.2 billion in flood aid, but this does not include the $8 billion in agricultural costs and the uncounted billions lost through business interruption.
In this issue, Claims dedicates much of its space to battling the tenacious water damage claim -- from better drying techniques (p. 24 and 46) to tips for preventing deadly mold growth (p. 38). Even though flood damage is not covered under most homeowners policies, water intrusion or freezing was the basis of 16.85 percent of average homeowners property damage claims in 1997, according to the Insurance Information Institute's "Fact Book 2000." Not only do these claim costs add up quickly, they have a tendency to hang around if not immediately addressed.
In the poem, the Ancient Mariner was cursed to forever wander the Earth for a seemingly minor offense -- the off-hand killing of a loyal albatross. In this season of violent storms, don't let a neglected wet carpet be the albatross around your neck for the rest of the summer.
Welcome, Dick Moessner
I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome Dick Moessner to Claims magazine. Dick joins us in our Seattle office as publisher of Claims and it's sister publication, Insurance West, as well as advertising sales manager of the "Kirschner's Directories." In addition to his role as publisher/ad sales manager, Dick will serve as office manager for the Seattle office of the National Underwriter Co.
Dick comes to us with a number of years of publishing, advertising sales and marketing experience. His background includes 13 years with the A.M. Best Co. and Best's Review, and, most recently, regional sales manager with Global Technology Business magazine.
Dick's primary focus is to ensure that, as we approach our 50th year of serving as the voice of the adjusting industry, Claims continues to be an indispensable tool for today's claims executive and corporate risk manager. We're happy to welcome him aboard (but we're not letting him near any large sea birds).