Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Water Damage Shown in 'Flood House' House Flooded to Teach Agents, Realtors, Technicians What to Do

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Water Damage Shown in 'Flood House' House Flooded to Teach Agents, Realtors, Technicians What to Do

Article excerpt

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Diane Hopp says she doesn't have a green thumb, so if her neighbors were around, they might be surprised to see her spraying a garden hose - particularly in December inside the living room of a newly renovated home. "It really bothers me to see all this mess, and that we did it," she said.

The insurance agent from Petersburg, Ill., was one in a line of hose wielders helping christen the small, frame structure on the edge of downtown Springfield - fondly nicknamed "flood house" - as part of an unusual experiment to assist the untold thousands who bemoan indoor flooding from the showers of spring and the burst pipes of winter.

The owner of the house, Peerless Cleaning and Restoration Services, says it is one of just a few "flood houses" it knows about. The company intends to flood it twice a month to help insurance agents know better what to do when a client calls, real estate agents more readily spot long-ignored problems that spawn mold, and eventually would-be technicians in learning to run vacuums and moisture meters.

The company promised that within days the custom rebuilt structure - outfitted with its own industrial strength sprinklers and spigots sticking out of the walls - would be bone-dry and ready to be doused again for the next demonstration.

Michael Barry, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, said Americans generally underestimate the chances they'll be hit by unwelcome water. He said he hadn't heard specifically of "flood houses," but applauded efforts to teach homeowners and agents what's at stake.

"Any time you can expand public understanding of the risk a homeowner faces, it's a good thing," Barry said. Water damage is the second-leading cause of insurance claims in Illinois, according to 2009 data from State Farm Insurance Cos. After wind and hail, water wreckage comprised the largest number of claims, averaging $7,900. Crime was third, and a different kind of water devastation - drain and sewer backups - was fourth, averaging $8,800 per claim.

Decatur, Ill.-based Peerless thinks its novel "flood house" laboratory will add depth to classes like "Hands-on Water Damage," which they offered in December to nine insurance agents and assistants needing continuing education credits. …

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