All of us tend to store our stuff in our basement, we put it down there and forget about it. It is only when our sump pump fails or our sewer backs up that we phone our insurance company and come to realize what we had actually accumulated down there. You would be surprised at what you have accumulated over the years!
Even if we have the proper insurance coverage and our insurer pays us for our losses we still find that there are items of far more sentimental value than what that payout can replace. As an insurer, we often suggest that policyholders try their best to prevent the basement from extensive water damage. This can include battery back up sump pumps or the installation of a back-flow value, but an easier way to ensure that particular items are not ruined by water is to store them on shelves above any anticipated water level. Our experience tells us that in most cases of sump pump failure you can expect approximately 6-8 inches of water in the basement, this means that every cardboard box filled with keepsakes, crafts or other items is damaged. Our claims department promotes the importance to Get it Up. Had that box been on a shelf even 12 inches off the ground it would have been safe from the water. Just think of the things you could have salvaged!
So what other alternatives are available should you not be able to store items on shelves? What if you are unable to get items up off the ground? We realize there is only so much wall space available before the basement begins to look a bit more like a storage closet. As a suggestion, consider an inexpensive option of waterproof containers. They can be piled one atop each other and will store anything from small trinkets to clothing. Regardless of the size of the containers you purchase, the fact that they will keep items dry in a wet basement is of the utmost importance here.
If you have closet space available in the basement you should give thought to hanging clothes, hangers will help to take up less space than storage containers or shelves for that summer or winter wardrobe being set aside for next season. Make sure that your basement is not damp to avoid worries of mildew or mold on such items.
We know that you cannot always avoid damage due to water, regardless of the preventive measures in place or the proactive approach you take to protecting your personal belongings. But you can reduce the risk, and you are able to eliminate or decrease the overall loss experienced when such a disaster happens at home. We encourage you to discuss how best to keep items dry in your basement. Make a plan and implement the changes necessary before water hits home!
Article Written by Tom Pooler
Erie Mutual Insurance Manager – Claims
Please contact us with any questions you may have about this or any other topic related to your insurance.