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“Ohhhh $$$%^&^@#$%^^&*&+@@#>”: A Homeowner Catastrophe

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

Ever had a homeowner’s disaster? Beth Gibson Lilja has, and she’s learned many lessons about homeownership and how to deal with calamities and insurance claims that she’s sharing with you today.

“It was October 21, 2018. I was busy in my basement studio working and preparing for my annual mom-duty trip to Arizona, while doing laundry. I came out and saw water flowing out the utility room. I looked across the family room and saw water seeping up through the carpet from the drain. ‘Uh-oh. Been there; done that,’ I thought. We had our first sewer back-up 18 months ago. I knew what I was in for.”

With a drenched carpet, Beth says she had a lot of choice words—not suitable for print. But, her previous experience, coupled with her organized lifestyle and her FOREVER® guaranteed photo and document storage account saved the day.

First, she called her insurance agent—immediately—followed by a call to ServPro for cleanup. Within five minutes recovery operations had begun. Beth practices what she preaches. The damage could have been far more serious, but Beth already practiced safe photo and document storage, so nothing of value was sitting on the floor, or close to it, unprotected. Beth is also a saver—including receipts for her home and business dating many years back. Turned out that was a pocketbook saver, too.

Beth had purchased for the lower level of her home high-end carpet to handle traffic of people and carts used during her studio workshops. When she requested replacement-value carpet, the insurer balked, due to its higher price. Here’s where Beth’s FOREVER® guaranteed storage account made things a breeze. Beth simply logged onto her account and retrieved and sent the digital receipt in about two minutes. That receipt allowed her the carpet upgrade of $1800.

The cause of her sewer back-ups? Glorious mature trees in her yard whose roots had penetrated the sewer line. Unfortunately, the only solutions were to either cut down the trees (NEVER!) or replace the sewer line extending from their home to the city sewer. Not cheap, but a necessary preventive measure to avoid future problems.

As insurance claims go, the top catastrophes (in order) are:

  1. Wind damage and hail

  2. Water damage unrelated to weather (sewer back-ups, pipes bursting, etc.)

  3. Weather-related water damage

  4. Theft

  5. Fire damage

  6. Electrical fire damage

  7. Personal injuries on property (slips, falls, dog bites, etc.)

You’ll be amazed at the simple things you can do to minimize catastrophes. For tips on how to prevent damage, check out these Web sites:

7 Common Home Insurance Claims and How to Avoid them:

The Most Frequent Homeowner Claims and Average Damage Costs:

Meanwhile, here’s Beth’s advice on proactive measures you can take:


  1. Do you have drain back-up in your policy?

  2. Do you have flood insurance?

  3. Review your policy annually with your agent—like an annual physical. Policies change each year. Make sure your coverage remains as good as you expect.

  4. Save your receipts—sometimes required by insurance.

  5. Invest in a FOREVER® guaranteed storage account to store documents, photos and passwords. Then you can access your Forever account from ANYWHERE and instantly send information to an insurer. If a problem surfaces, your FOREVER® guaranteed storage account has the photos, passwords and information you need: proof of ownership and cost. This could save you an urgent trip home—from vacation, even. And, of course, in the event of a tornado or fire, your photos, passwords, documents and receipts are gone for good—unless you store them digitally. Also, FOREVER® storage accounts are not shared with anyone-your privacy rights are preserved. Your digital storage is multi-generational and guaranteed for not just for your lifetime, but 100 years beyond that. You pay once, up front, and it’s yours for good. Check it out: No more multiple digital storage sites. It’s all in one, safe place.

  6. Make sure you’ve inventoried and photographed your possessions. Have proof for your claims.

Preventative measures

  1. Sewer back-up, burst pipes and hoses: Don’t keep photos on the floor or bottom shelf. Anything on the floor—it’s damaged. Take care about anything you put on lower levels. If you must store items on the floor, keep them in plastic tubs that seal tightly. And don’t forget to label them!

  2. Unfinished basements or attics—without temperature regulation: BEWARE. You’re putting them at risk. Documents and photos should be stored in temperatures equal to your living space.

  3. Be proactive with weather conditions. Rake snow off your roof to prevent ice dams.

  4. Remember that flood insurance is a separate policy, and no claims can be honored within the first 30 days. If you’re in a flood plain or near water—especially this year—DON’T DELAY. Order flood insurance NOW.

  5. Make friends with your neighbor. You watch out for them and vice-versa. If they see a strange car in your driveway or other unusual activity, give them blanket permission to call 911. Same holds true if they see water flowing out a door or window…definite sign of trouble. Your neighbor’s help can mean the difference between minor or major damage, or a burglary. Also, share garage door codes so you can access one another’s home in the event of trouble.

Inspired? Now’s the time to take action—before the unthinkable happens to your home.

Call or email us today. Let’s get started: 612-616-1215;

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