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Fraud or Incompetence?

"Insurance Industry Response to Flood Affected Buildings in Carlisle 2005"

Cost of Restoration:

£10,000
Cost of Restoration:

£200,000
See Audit 1 case study 1 on right hand audit index

Date of Survey 25-27th January 2005
Date of Flood 8th January 2005
Surveyor Jeff Charlton


Foreword

For five years or so I have stated my concerns about competence and response to disaster recovery. As a winner of two industry sponsored disaster recovery awards and several other industry nominations and extensive certifications my views may be seen as realistic. So concerned that I spent two years and £20,000 of my money in developing and supporting the formation of the BDMA, British Damage Management Association of which I was proud to be the first elected chairman. Unfortunately as I pushed to improve safety and competence I was ostracised and called a scaremonger, loose cannon etc.

My experience of 20 years working and training world wide in disaster recovery is unfortunately seen as a threat to some and I hope this report will be taken as a gesture of positive critique. The contractors work hard but need to work smart. Insurers may need to allow profits on results not turnover of claims or capped costs if they are to save money and improve client satisfaction.

Method

A tour of the main flood area off Warwick Rd Carlisle was undertaken over four days. The inspection was simply to drive along the road and photograph any property where a contractor was seen to be drying by virtue of their signage that “drying works were being undertaken”. Photographs were taken of properties where uncontrolled drying was obvious or where preventable secondary damage was most likely. Many more photos are available and this report provides an overall picture only.

Objective

To prove to the Insurance industry that the independent audits, training and contractor support, can provide tangible benefits. To save insurers money and reduce claim costs by focused and speedy restoration principles.

To reduce the public and insured’s disruption and loss by mitigation of damage through education and prompt action. To improve safety and reduce health threats of all those engaged in or affected by fire, floods and disasters generally. I am looking for consultancy work not explanation or answers about this report.

Summary

The photographs show extensive secondary damage, little or no control and in some cases total incompetence. It appears that insurers are facing extensive additional and unnecessary costs due to preventable secondary damage incurred to areas well above the primary damage zones (upstairs) or where materials are unlikely to be salvaged due to mould, or the effects of bound water, shrinkage, swelling etc.

It should be noted that in many properties adjacent to those photographed showed either NO condensation, similar levels and very few showed extreme condensation, probably caused by the misguided belief that heating alone would dry the property. Most significantly this audit was undertaken three weeks after the flood! While individual cases listed may have complete and genuine excuses or answers to my criticism, the overall picture cannot be denied.

Ambient Conditions

  Monday 24th Sunday 25th
Temperature 5.1c 1.8c
Relative humidity 68.5% 57.4%
Specific humidity 0.0375kg/kg 0.025kg/kg

Section 1

Uncontrolled Evaporation

This section shows many properties under the care of nominated preferred contractors. Their names have been obscured. This section is important because it shows that evaporation is uncontrolled, not collected by adequate dehumidification. The drying process is efficient when the free or bound water is released usually by evaporation encouraged by heat and movement of the boundary or surface layer of moisture, often seen or identified as condensation or vapour pressure. Efficient drying follows when sufficient dehumidification is available to strip this released moisture from the air. When moisture is seen streaming down ground floor windows it can be generally assumed that hydroscopic materials in the building are also absorbing moisture and therefore secondary damage to previously unaffected materials or contents follows. When condensation is seen in upper floor windows it means the problem is far greater because the upstairs obviously not affected by floodwaters is now absorbing moisture and may be damaged.

Equally when temperatures are high enough to cause or encourage evaporation within a closed environment, the potential for mould growth is increased. Few buildings in this small sample area were seen to be under control.

Insurers may face additional unnecessary losses caused by mould, delamination or blistering of wall finishes in floors well above the flood line, which may also affect clothes, and soft furnishings, electrical equipment etc.

The high number of photos is reflective of the general condition of response some 20 days after the flood.



Three weeks after the flood the windows are streaming and likely to create unnecessary secondary damage, mould etc.



See roof lights, condensation proving secondary damage. Flood affects now two floors up.



Condensation on ground and 1st floor. Uncontrolled evaporation and damage likely!





Condensation on windows, secondary damage although power requirements are a consideration different drying approach would be beneficial.



Drying floors or using pews as moisture absorbent?



Plastic chairs disposed off, cost of cleaning against replacement?



Both properties signage stated, drying by contractors. See wet curtains and upstairs condensation





Both properties show signs of secondary damage. See wet newspaper!







Upstairs windows saturated !



Streaming windows. Secondary damage and mould likely!



Streaming windows





Both windows Streaming, see wet signage and curtains soaked



Streaming windows all over. Contractor in attendance but secondary damage likely!



Condensation upstairs



Desiccant working well! The first good job seen!



Totally uncontrolled evaporation, expect increased damage





Total air movement and all dry? (Excepting sub soil?). Save the joists, they are connected directly to the wet bricks and soil!



Upstairs window condensation



Condensation side windows and upstairs, curtains absorbing moisture, good potential for mould and odour, shrinkage, swelling..



Lower windows condensation, streaming!



Top window condensation unnecessary damage?



Top windows wet



No secondary damage next door No contractor either!



All windows streaming



Secondary damage upstairs, condensation on double glazed windows!



So wet the contractors sign has run

Wet sign. Contractor in attendance “drying”. A Paradox?



Wet or dry, good work or moisture barrier lower hall left? Painted Embossed wall paper. Perhaps a good decision or perhaps should have been removed?



Airbricks sealed, no ventilation? (flood protection) Not drying under floor areas.

Close up of blocked airbricks, which should have been removed to facilitate air circulation. All floors intact swelling and distortion, mould and possible health threat!



Two Thermo hygrometers inserted to letterbox. (Sauna)?



Windows streaming, see thermal hygrometer reading SAUNA, see inside 96%Rh@17c



This was even worse with heating full on and no ventilation it approached 100%Rh



Contractors removed wallpaper to increase evaporation but no collection, (dehumidifier)



Heating full on too!



Infra red imaging showing high heat from radiators, but no dehumidifiers! Temperature 18c with Rh at 97%. Dehumidifiers were delivered three days later but were not connected or set up.



A perfect job, controlled! Unknown builder

Heating full on too!



Same house in infrared, showing wet lower walls, but high internal temperature, but adequate evaporation collection.



Two properties, on left perfect on right uncontrolled. Different contractors



What no contractor signage? 3 dehumidifiers set up wrongly, doing nothing,



Dehumidifiers set up wrongly in insurance offices, empty buckets for three days? Now water being slowly collected by bucket and re-circulated through machine in continuous loop. Bucket, air, dehumidifier, bucket, air!

Section 2

Fraud, incompetence or bad judgement?

The following two buildings were on the Warwick Road. One is a hotel and the other houses a 95-year-old man. The inspection was initiated when I saw a nominated contractor removing three refrigerant dehumidifiers from the hotel and I was surprised that they had dried the property so quickly. I asked if they had dried the property and they said they had been told to remove the equipment as the Insurance company representative had told them building was beyond salvage and would have to be gutted out. This was surprising to me as the salt line created by the flood line could clearly be seen to be below the front door threshold. I asked the hotel owner if this was true and she said, “ the insurance man said you had better sit down, you won’t believe the extent of damage that the flood has caused, were going to remove all plaster up to the ceiling, floors, joists, doors etc and you will be out of the building for a minimum of 6 months” Both homeowners described how the only time their carpets got wet was when a boat went past and generated wash. All wet carpets had been removed and all floors appeared to be dry.



Efflorescent salt line, above actual flood line but below door threshold!
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