Window sash damage is a common building problem addressed byclaims personnel. Insurance coverage of window related losses isoften dependent on the nature of the damage and whether it occurredas a result of one incident or over time. Pane breakage, rottedframes, foggy double panes, and jammed frames are among the manyproblems that perpetuate insurance related claims. Thefollowing are three classic examples of window sash losses thatserve to illustrate the issues faced by the claims analyst.

|

1. Interior Moisture Damage

|

Moisture damage to windows can occur from the inside, primarilyfrom condensation on window components during the winter. Highhumidity levels mean moisture laden air condenses on cold surfacessuch as single pane glass and window sash without thermal breaks.Without proper maintenance the sash deteriorates as exemplified inthe window shown in Figure 1 to the rightbelow.

|

Humidity levels in the home are often a result of personallifestyle choices and significantly affect the deterioration ofwindow sash. Some insured's prefer unusually high humidity in thehome, which can accelerate window sash deterioration if appropriatemaintenance is not performed.

|

Defective humidification units in a home may lead to higherhumidity levels, exacerbating deterioration of window sash.

|

For the past 30 years, window frames have been constructed withthermal breaks that tend to reduce cold areas that encouragecondensation.

|

Some thermal breaks have been improperly designed, allowingsignificant cold transfer and increased condensation. Theseproblems occur over time.

|

2. Sash Deterioration Defect

|

Older sash was constructed of hard woods with closed cellstructures, which minimized the damage from water as compared tomodern sash, which utilizes soft woods with an outer,water-resistant cladding. Figure 2 below shows anexample of a modern casement window 10 years after installation,well within the warranty period.

|

Rain water has penetrated the outer aluminum protective coverand has rotted the bottom of the sash. This area is typicallyunseen by the home owner and becomes noticeable when there isdifficulty opening or closing a window. The rotted bottom ofthe sash near the sill does not retain a square shape, causingjamming of the window while opening.

|

|

Figure 3 to the right is a close-up of thedeteriorated wood where water became trapped after penetrating theouter cladding. The windows were properly installed andmaintained. A design defect exists in that water could easilybypass the seal and accumulate in an area that did not drain or dryout readily.

|

Researching recalls by the window manufacturer may reveal arecall as was the situation in this case where the manufactureracknowledged the defect and gave a prorated credit to thehomeowner for the failure during the warranty period.

|

Of course, water can enter a properly designed window system asa result of improper installation, handling damage (shipping)or other external damage (rocks from lawn mowers) suggesting thatan inspection of the window system may be necessary.

|

3. Building Structural Movement

|

Structural movement of a building can cause problems with windowsystems. Deflection of the building structure can occur fromsettling, nearby construction, excessive loading, defectiveconstruction, deterioration of the structure, foundation movementand wind. Building deflection in the form of racking causes thewindow frame to distort, resulting in sash failure, window crackingand jamming when the window sash is raised or swung outward (Referto Figure 4 below).

|

|

The damage can occur suddenly as a result of high wind pressureor excavation close to the building. The damage can also occurgradually as exemplified by settling or structuraldeterioration.

|

The window in Figure 5 below suffered fromcracking and deformation of the sill.

|

|

As evident in Figure 6 below, arotted support beam (arrow) under the sill that is deflectingdownward. Brickwork also attests to the downward deflection of thesupport beam, a long term deterioration related problem.

|

|

As in most losses, it is prudent to inspect the window systemand obtain information from the insured as to the particulars ofthe problem with the window system.

|

This may include:

  • The age of the window.
  • When the damage was first noticed.
  • Or any coincident circumstance, etc.

Photographs from the underwriters or an aerial (satellite photo)view of the home may show evidence of a preexisting condition.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free PropertyCasualty360 Digital Reader

  • All PropertyCasualty360.com news coverage, best practices, and in-depth analysis.
  • Educational webcasts, resources from industry leaders, and informative newsletters.
  • Other award-winning websites including BenefitsPRO.com and ThinkAdvisor.com.
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.