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Hauglie Insurance of Snoqualmie Valley: Helping prepare for winter’s worst
While no flood waters rose in the Snoqualmie Valley last winter, many homeowners experienced headaches and hits to the wallet from cold weather and storm damage.
Agents at the Valley’s Hauglie Insurance branches fielded numerous calls for frozen pipes and water leaks. They put pipe protection first on a winterization checklist aimed at saving time, money and peace of mind.
“We can prevent a lot of things that happen to homes, just through good maintenance,” owner Kevin Hauglie said. “It’s one thing to have insurance—we can get you back to where you were. But what about the inconvenience?”
Twenty-eight years ago, Hauglie learned the hard way about frozen pipes. He had turned off the outside faucet in the fall, but left the connected hose, which led to a burst pipe inside an interior wall and thousands of dollars in repairs.
As winter approaches, homeowners should clean chimneys and gutters. Debris on the roofline can lead to moisture damage, damaging and lowering the value of a home.
Winter storms can bring down tree branches, damaging the roof and potentially causing water leaks to the inside of the home.
Owners who don’t check for cracks after storms may not discover the leaks until springtime, Farmers agent Angela Donaldson said.
Knowing current rules and monitoring effective changes is essential. There simply is too much at risk. It is your investment and your family.
With forecasters predicting a hard winter, homeowners should consider flood insurance coverage in the event of a disaster. But insurance alone isn’t enough. Proper planning is also vital to avoid major headaches, extra expense or tragic losses during flood.
Hauglie agents advise residents to make a flood plan, which includes making sure family members know how to get out of the house and neighborhood, where to meet up and how to contact each other.
Flood planning also includes readying the home for a disaster. A good exit plan is vital. Ensure that contents are protected and valuables removed or stored out of harm’s way.
“You need to have a plan in your head, so you’re not just throwing stuff in bags and hoping you remember later,” Agent Elizabeth Gildersleeve said.
Vital medications, for example, needs to be accounted for early on. If medicine needs to stay refrigerated, have a cooler handy, because floods often mean power loss.
Antiques are covered, but only at functional value. That means that your grandmother’s antique table may wind up being replaced by just another new table. Homeowners should ensure that valued antiques are safely high and dry or removed out the flood zone in a disaster.
Homeowners also need to ensure that invoices, receipts and flood claim documentation are kept in a waterproof bag. Documentation is needed to prove to FEMA that repairs were completed for previous claims in order to have the same repairs approved again.
Time-stamped photos are also a great way to document before-and-after realities.
“Photos are the least expensive and most valuable thing you can do in protecting your home and contents before a fire or flood,” Donaldson said. After a disaster, “not only are you emotionally stressed, but now you have to remember where everything was and what it looked like—and you have to articulate that an adjustor.” All that stress can be saved or minimized by having photos on hand.
Homeowners who live outside a flood zone can still face floods from accidents and human error as well as natural events. Insurance agencies like Hauglie Insurance offer preferred risk flood insurance to provide an extra level of protection.
In 2009, The Hauglie Agency handled more than 100 flood claims providing clients with over $2 million in settlements. Some were $100,000-and-up claims, but many were in the $30,000 to $20,000 range or less.
That is a lot more than the average amount received from Disaster Assistance. “People outside the special flood hazard area are more likely to have flood damage than they are to experience a fire over the course of a 30-year mortgage,” Gildersleeve said. “Even if you buy a small amount of coverage, that’s some protection.”
Early fall is the time to buy a flood policy. Flood insurance can have a 30-day waiting period and you must be aware of that. Valley storms and floods have been known to hit before Thanksgiving.
While the annual premium must be paid up front, Hauglie offers several payment options, including a credit card choice, to fit buyers’ budgets.
Agents urge homeowners to have their residence properly surveyed. Homeowners need to know their elevation for proper flood coverage and best possible pricing.
Separate outbuildings need separate flood coverage. If a homeowner has built a freestanding office, garage or guest house on their property, not connected with the main roofline, that building needs its own policy.
Flood water can take their toll on fences, which are not covered by flood insurance.
Angela Donaldson and Elizabeth Gildersleeve will answer policy questions at an informational flood meeting, 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov 3, at the Carnation Library.
If you have questions, give them a call at (425) 222-5881.
Preparing for flooding:
What you can do now
• Keep all flood claim-related receipts in a waterproof bag
• Take photos of your home and business as it is now
• Look into alternative storage options, such as raising or moving
• Develop an evacuation plan with your family, employees and for your pets
• Have a list of important phone numbers and sandbag locations
• Teach everyone how and when to shut off gas, electricity and water lines
• Keep household chemicals above flood levels to avoid spills
• Review your declaration page
After the flood:
Surviving your claim
• Make sure your home is safe to enter
• Take photos, inside and out
• File your flood claim with your agent. Ask if you can begin clean-up immediately
• Keep an inventory of all damaged items
• Keep samples of carpets and flooring removed from each room
• Keep estimates from contractors
• Keep receipts for everything