Texans are dealing with an unprecedented disaster. The storm we are experiencing together is a true test of our Texas spirit.
As many of us at Jansen/Adjusters International are Houston residents ourselves, our team is living this experience alongside you. Our staff is coping with the same freezing pipes, power outages, road closures, fuel challenges, and all the other side effects of a brutal winter storm.
During this time, we would like to remind commercial property owners about some key points regarding property insurance, particularly mitigation efforts.
Human safety is always paramount! It should go without saying that your safety and the safety of your residents must come first. If a building is on fire or a road is flooding, do not go near it. For more subtle types of property damage, you must do your best to mitigate damage before it happens or as it occurs.
Mitigation (prevention of damage) can include measures such as:
- Boarding up windows
- Placing tarps over broken windows and damaged roofs
- Posting signs or closing off public access to the damaged property
- Employing security guards
- Installing temporary heating equipment and/or draining plumbing lines
- Pouring nontoxic antifreeze in toilets and sink traps
Remember to take photos and keep receipts as you make efforts to repair damage to your home, business, or commercial property to reduce further storm impact. Keep track of everything you purchase to maintain your property during this unprecedented storm! Things like wet-dry vacuums or "shop vacs," tools, sandbags, plywood, and caulk will all add up.
By keeping a record of these purchases, you help the insurer and the claims adjuster understand your dedication to preserving your property. If you hire extra help to perform repairs or preventative maintenance, keep a detailed record of their hours and payment.
There is most likely a “Safeguard Warranty Clause” in your insurance policy for warranties and endorsements. An example could be that sprinklers must be operational at all times, or coverage for a fire will be voided. More information on builder risk policies can be found at the International Risk Management Institute, Inc website: Learn Builders Risk Protective Safeguard Endorsements and Warranties.
During the storms, the Harris County Fire Marshal sent word to the Houston Apartment Association that included more useful advice for Commercial Real Estate (CRE) owners. They suggest you shut down sprinkler systems to reduce potential damage from freezing pipes that can cause leaks. The Marshal's office also suggests that commercial property owners designate a specific individual with the role of contacting residents and emergency personnel in case of a fire.
We know that sprinkler maintenance companies will be overwhelmed with work once this storm passes. You may need to help tenants make temporary living arrangements or block-off portions of your buildings for safety.
When the weather eventually warms, property managers should also be proactively looking for mold or other damage that might not be immediately visible. In other words, this storm will have lasting effects.
Finally, know that emergencies and catastrophes happen all the time. That is why you have insurance! Remember, this too shall pass.
The team at Jansen/Adjusters International is experiencing this storm, too. You can contact us by phone at 888.370.8909 or online. Remember, we are coping with the same road closures, electrical outages, and cell phone issues as everyone, but we promise to respond as soon as possible.
In the meantime, remember to keep a record of your mitigation efforts and expenses. Our thoughts are with you, your families, and your tenants during this incredible winter storm.