W^H? The Holmes Murphy Blog

  • Avoiding a Spring ‘Break’

    I bet you’re thinking, “Why in the world would I want to avoid a Spring Break?” Well, the kind of break I’m talking about isn’t a nice trip to a relaxing beach or resort. I’m talking about a pipe break…you know, the one that leaves water damage all over the place in your house. A broken pipe is just one type of water damage claim the Fraternal Property Management Association (FPMA) Property Program deals with during “break” times. Water damage caused by the overflow of plumbing fixtures, broken pipes, frozen pipes that burst, sump pump overflows, roof leaks, wind-driven precipitation, sewer back-up, flood issues, and ice dams happen most frequently and severely during winter, spring, and summer breaks when college students are away from their chapter houses.

    Check out these fraternal stats. From 2002 to present:

    • 1,043 water damage claims have been reported resulting in total damages of approximately $25,600,000.
    • 489 claims involving water damage occurred during school breaks, resulting in total damages of approximately $14,662,500 (an average paid claim of approximately $30,000).
    • Freeze claims accounted for damages of approximately $8,211,000.

    Another crazy statistic…in January 2014, the country was impacted by a polar vortex. During this period of time, approximately 80 freeze claims were reported to our office in a 30-day timeframe, which ultimately resulted in paid damages of approximately $2,600,000. Several of these claims were initially reported by a party who witnessed water exiting the facility from underneath the front door.

    Here’s the thing, many of these freeze claims could have been avoided (or the subsequent damages substantially reduced) if the chapter house was properly monitored.

    So what do we recommend?

    • First, we strongly encourage chapter houses be monitored during winter, spring, and summer school breaks. More specifically, we recommend that a designated person conduct a daily walkthrough during winter and spring school breaks to ensure the house is OK. As for summer school breaks, we recommend a designated person conduct a weekly walkthrough. Taking a few minutes to check in on the house can go a long way in avoiding and reducing the damages resulting from a water damage claim. It’s an inexpensive process to implement and can save chapter directors, officers, and members from the inconvenience and confusion created due to the interruption of normal chapter operations.
    • Second, you may wish to consider installing the PipeBurst Pro Water Detection System in each of your chapter houses. This can minimize the severity of water damage claims that occur. The system is designed to either automatically shut the supply of water off or contact a pre-designated individual(s) when water usage exceeds a pre-set threshold. The cost of the system varies depending on the total square foot area of the chapter facility, but typically costs $2,500 to $4,000. For more information on the PipeBurst Pro Water Detection System, click here. The good news about this is that the FPMA Property Program offers a premium discount for the installation and use of the PipeBurst Pro Water Detection System. A premium discount of 20 percent is offered for the first two years the system is in place and 5 percent for every year thereafter. This discount allows fraternal organizations the opportunity to recoup the full cost associated with the purchase and installation of the system over a period of time.

    Properly monitoring chapter houses during school breaks as well as installing the PipeBurst Pro Water Detection System can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of water damage claims. This can ultimately (directly and indirectly) save the house corporation and chapter premium dollars and avoid an unnecessary disruption of chapter operations. After all, the last thing anyone wants to deal with when they come back from relaxation is stress!

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