There are many causes of water damaged wood furniture and wood finishes. After almost forty years of working in the moving claims industry, I think I have seen them all. Leaky roofs on vans and trailers. Flood damaged storage warehouses. Bent doors and punctured holes in overseas containers. Items that were loaded during a heavy rain storm. A metal roof on a self-load container that was peeled back when the driver took the shipment under a low bridge. These are all just a few of the water damage claims circumstances that I have personally been involved in over the years.
Invariably the common element that I see the most that increases the claims settlement costs is the lack of any mitigation services or services that were performed poorly. Mitigation services, simply stated, means providing services to stop the damages where they are and to prevent any further damages from occurring.
Mitigation services can take on many forms. Wipe down all surfaces if you have visible moisture. Provide dehumidification services coupled with air movement to try and remove moisture that may have penetrated the surfaces. Dehumidification services should be provided in a controlled manner by a professional service who is trained, qualified and experienced with this service. Drying wood goods too rapidly can cause cracks, shrinkage of the wood or other structural problems that could increase your claims exposure. Applying a broad spectrum anti-microbial is also a recommended procedure to prevent or minimize the potential for mold growth. Preventing or controlling mold growth and odor can substantially reduce your potential claims costs in a water damage situation.
The worst thing a mover can do is deliver a water damaged shipment into the home. It is difficult to provide restoration or mitigation services while the items are still in the home. The potential also exists for health issue related claims from placing these damages goods in the home.
As stated previously, restoration and mitigation services should only be provided by skilled professionals. The CPPC (Claims Prevention and Procedure Council) has a roster of hundreds of skilled repair services, many of whom provide these types of emergency services and have the experience to back it up. Determining the scope of work is essential after wooden furniture has suffered water damages. The scope of work simply means determining the level of damages and what services will be necessary to correct the loss related problems. A skilled professional can determine the restoration costs and whether or not each item has the value to justify restoration within your liability. Some wood items night need light restoration or spot finish repairs while others might need complete refinishing. A skilled restoration professional can assist you in all of these areas and make the claims process run smoothly.
This article by Tom Kuhns, Jr. was originally written for an audience of claims adjusters and appeared in a moving claims trade journal. Tom is the president of West Interior Services. He has been working in the furniture restoration industry for over 40 years.