Water Damage Can Sink Your Family’s Lifestyle

It could have been a total disaster. 

My first experience with large loss was in 2010, and it was quite unexpected. I lost my mom to cancer as a boy and my dad eventually remarried. As a blended family, my parents thought it was important for us to go on a family vacation every summer. There were six of us in total and we had some great trips, including a trip to New York over the Fourth of July week. It was filled with unforgettable memories including the fireworks over New York City, Broadway shows, the incredible Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, and a visit to historic West Point (one of my favorite parts of the trip since I was a high school senior just a few months from joining the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M). 

Ironically, the most memorable moments of the trip were made when we pulled into our driveway after being away for eight days. I will never forget my dad saying, “Kids, of all our trips, 
this was the best because everything went smoothly and it was perfect!” As we were unloading the car, I turned to see my petite stepmom tiptoeing back out of the front door uttering indistinguishable sounds. Soon I realized she was saying, “Oh no, oh no!” Naturally, my dad ran towards her and entered the front door to be greeted with the reason for her panic – a stream of running water flowing through the entry way. My 50-year-old father tore up the stairs two at a time like he was back in college. He found the cause under my sister’s bathroom sink and was able to stop the torrent of water. 

Meanwhile, the rest of us stood like statues – in shock looking at a complete disaster -contemplating just how many hours and thousands of gallons of water we were seeing 
manifested in the damage. We had no idea if the hot water had been spewing for days or hours, but it didn’t really matter. The damage was clearly devastating. I learned firsthand that day how powerful water is in the destruction of a family’s treasured possessions. Literally half 
of our home had been destroyed – both upstairs and downstairs. The living room, master 
bedroom and bath, both of my sisters’ rooms, a playroom, a music room and my dad’s study were gone… ceilings and walls absent.  

As dehumidifiers and fans were brought in immediately, and workers salvaged what little 
they could, none of us had any idea of the enormity of the repair that would begin that very night 
– or what the impact of this occurrence would be on our family’s life for the foreseeable future. In all of the devastation, Chubb Insurance was a bright light. That very night, they had us in a nice hotel near our neighborhood. For the next ten months we would watch our house gutted and rebuilt from the ground up. 

If you are part of a big or a blended family, you know that space is important. It was the reason my parents had chosen our home in the first place. The floor plan was perfect for two boys and two girls. We had been forced out of our familiar surroundings which created some additional stress for us all. But to our relief, our claims adjustor made certain that we were able to get a nice comparable home after about three weeks in a hotel. As I look back, we enjoyed some of our fondest memories together as a family in that rental home. The contractor and his wife – who were Russian immigrants and superb artisans – became good friends of ours in the long hours and days that were to come in the process of rebuilding our home. And my father will tell you that Chubb worked with us to make sure they resolved and paid out every aspect of the claim (approximately $850k). 

Of course the whole experience was extremely inconvenient, especially finding the best possible living situation for our family and the financial aspects, but it was a hassle-free customer-centered experience. Imagine how much more difficult a situation like this would be if you have to fight for every penny of the reconstruction cost for ten months on top of rebuilding.  
After we moved back into our house – which was actually even better because of some additional upgrades – I remember thinking, “Wow, all of this trouble was the result of a worn out 22-cent rubber washer in my sister’s upstairs bathroom sink.” It had worn out in the hot water hose that came into the sink underneath. It was something that could happen on any day in any house.  
I can tell you with certainty that when something like this happens, it’s important to be with the right insurance company. Saving a few dollars in premium with an inferior carrier will be of little consolation if you ever have this kind of misfortune (or worse). We were fortunate to be using a broker that was fully-aligned with their insurance carrier and able to leverage their influence. This level of service is indispensable today in the age of phone trees and auto-generated emails. 
As a Risk Advisor, I can show you how it’s possible to protect your home and other valuables in the same way my parents did. At Insgroup, it is our mission to provide you with the same extraordinary service that my family received – so you can have that same peace of mind if a rubber ring the size of a quarter ever ruins the end of a perfect vacation.  

By: Johnathan Whiddon, Risk Advisor

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