Water or flood can cause a startling amount of damage to your property in just a short amount of time. When this happens, you might be faced with a number of contributing factors that will determine whether or not your water damage claim will be accepted or denied by the insurance company.
Whether your property’s water damage claim is accepted or denied highly depends on the type of home insurance policy you purchased, cause of the damage, type of damage (gradual or sudden), and accessibility of maintenance records.
This article will walk you through the process of how the process of a water damage claim works.
Let’s find out the type of damages that are accepted or not when it comes to water damage claim insurance.
Water Damage Claim 101: Water Damage Vs. Flood Damage
One important determining factor when making your claim will be whether or not the damage was caused by flooding. You might be surprised to find out that in insurance vocabulary, water damage and flood damage are two entirely different things. Insurance policies normally exclude damages caused by flooding, which is why it is very important for you to understand the difference.
Water damage claims that are covered by insurance companies are normally intended for sudden, unexpected events like broken appliances causing leaks or damage plumbing.
Water damage from leaking roofs and walls are also covered by most insurance policies. This also includes winter ice and back up damage. Nonetheless there are some policies that only cover interior water damage only if there is direct damage to the building that leads to the creation of an opening that lets water enter. A good example would be wind damage.
Flood damages are those caused by natural disasters such as heavy rains, overflowing rivers, tsunamis, and hurricanes. They are usually not covered by standard property insurance policies. Insurance policy holders need to pay for a separate flood policy in order for any flood damages incurred covered. For the most part, most people’s source for flood coverage is the National Flood Insurance Program or NFIP.
GRADUAL VS SUDDEN DAMAGE
Chronic (or Gradual) Damage
This happens when you ignore a pipe or roof leak resulting to gradual seepage of water over time. Regardless of the cause of damage, if you neglected or ignored the leak, which caused the damage to your property, the insurance company will not honor any claims for coverage for it. Property owners are required to fix any problems related to their property immediately. Failure to do so would lead to claim denial.
A sudden or accidental water damage claim is when non-flood related water damage happens suddenly and accidentally. Your insurance company usually covers this. For example, an appliance hose breaks and affect
Regular policies also reject water damage claim for water that flows over the ground into the building, or trickles through foundation walls. Water that backs up through drains or sewers is also not covered. However there is a special limited coverage applicable for sewer backup damage.
When home and property owners don’t take care of their properties and they end up suffering from water damage, they can find it hard to get their insurance claim approved. For instance, let’s say homeowner XYZ who lives in the Northeast leaves for a vacation in the tropics and turns the heat of in her house. While she is a way, the temperature at her house drops below freezing point. Her pipes freeze and burst due to lack of proper heating indoors. When homeowner XYZ tries to make a claim for the damage, it would be denied because she failed to maintain the heat or drain her plumbing system. Sounds unfortunate, right?
The Solution? Avoid Water Damage Claim!
As a home and property owner, it is absolutely necessary to keep your property, equipment, appliances, and other systems properly maintained, in case they malfunction or break and cause water damage.
If you want to avoid water damage, you need to keep these items regularly maintained:
- Heating equipment
- Hot water heaters
- Indoor and outdoor faucets and pipes
- Appliance hoses
- A/C drain lines
- Windows and doors
- Sewer drains
- Showers, tubs, toilets, and sinks
- Rain gutters and downspouts
- Sump pumps
GET HELP FROM A PUBLIC ADJUSTER
While you might not be comfortable with the idea of having someone help you with your water damage claim, the truth is you do need help and you there’s no need for you to handle your claim alone. You can get professional advice from someone who understands how the water damage claim process works. For this you need the help of a public adjuster.
There are three types of adjusters you’d come across over the course of making your claim. They are as follows:
- COMPANY ADJUSTER –or oftentimes called as the “insurance adjuster”. This person works for the insurance company.
- INDEPENDENT ADJUSTER –works for insurance companies, but they work as independent agents rather than employees. They could be working for numerous insurance companies.
- PUBLIC ADJUSTER –the only type of adjuster that works exclusively for policyholders (which means you!) instead of insurance companies. This means there won’t be any conflict of interest with regards to advocating on your behalf to the insurance company.
How a Water Damage Claim Process Works
Water damage can happen to your home through various reasons and incidences. It could be due to any of the following:
- Roof leak
- Pipe leak
- Dishwasher leak
- Fridge line leak
- Toilet overflow
The important thing to remember when you have water damage in your home is that you NEED to dry the water damaged area out as soon as possible. The sooner you get that area dried out; there will be limited chances for mold to grow as well.
Below are some important steps you need to do once you come across water damage in your property.
- CONTACT AN EMERGENCY RESTORATION COMPANY
Instead of trying to fix the problem yourself, get help from an emergency restoration company. They will be able to dry the area out while limiting the amount of loss as much as possible.
- REPORT THE DAMAGE TO THE INSURANCE COMPANY
While you might not think it’s necessary to contact your insurance company, unfortunately you HAVE to. The insurance company needs to know about the damage/loss so they can pay you.
- GET THE DAMAGE ASSESSED BY AN ADJUSTER
Next, you need to get the damaged area assessed by an adjuster. There’s two ways for you to do this. You can either get the damage assessed by the insurance adjuster provided by the company or you can hire a public adjuster yourself. After the assessment on your property is done, the insurance company will then decide if your claim is approved or rejected. Insurance/public adjusters are required to assess your property’s damage within 15 days of notification.
- ESTIMATE THE COST TO REPAIR DAMAGE
Various contractors will provide you with different estimates on how much it will cost to repair the water damage.
- INSURANCE PAYOUT
If your insurance company approves your water damage claim after assessment and agrees to cover the claim, you both will come to an agreement on the total cost of the claim.
- CHOOSE THE CONTRACTOR
You can choose the contractor who will fix the damage, or the insurance company can provide one for you. This all depends on what is indicated in your insurance policy.
- START FIXING!
Once you’ve got everything figured out, you’re ready to get started with the task of restoring the damaged area of your property.
- INSURANCE CHECKS
Once the restoration is done, have it checked by your mortgage company and if you have a mortgage on your home, you can get paid in installments
Before you file an insurance claim for water damage, remember not to throw anything away. In fact, don’t touch the damage area until you have documented evidence of the damage either by photo or video.
Evidence is extremely important in the water damage claim process. Majority of homeowner’s insurance policies state that the damaged area within the property must be available for inspection at any time throughout the claim period. You run the risk of having your claim rejected or denied if you throw any documentation right away.
Water Damage Claim: What are Emergency Restoration Companies and Where Do You Find Them?
One of the things that might surprise you when you start going through the process of filing your water damage claim is the total cost of having an emergency restoration company come into your home and dry it out. It might seem like they hardly do any work and yet their services cost a lot!
But there’s no denying this truth:
It’s important to have your property dried out as soon as possible and effectively the moment you spot the damage. Doing so will prevent the possibility of mold from growing and you won’t have to throw any personal belongings or building materials as a result.
When Do You Need the Help of Water Damage Claim Emergency Restoration Company?
It is important that you try to run it by your insurance company as much as possible. They can provide their own people to do the restoration for such situations. But, there are instances when you may not be able to reach them. In this case, try check your insurance policy if you are allowed to pick your own good emergency restoration company.
The dry-out process is pretty straightforward. The workers doing the restoration use devices such as dehumidifiers and blowers to heat the air and move it around. In this way the moisture is evaporated into the air and the dehumidifier can take the moisture out.
People need to have a lot of patience during the dry-out process. A normal dry-out process may take around two to five business days depending on the scope of damage. You’ll need to give the emergency restoration company access to your home to make sure that everything is working properly and no further damage has been done. For the amount of money you pay them, you’ll definitely want to make sure that every nook and cranny, or hard-to-reach spaces are also cleaned and dried out.
It’s best to go for an experience service provider when you have water damage. You can discuss with them the kind of materials that can be salvaged, as well as the ones that will have to be replaced. Below is a list of materials that can now be salvaged in case of water damage. These materials used to be labeled unsalvageable before:
- Ceiling tiles
- Dry wall
- Wood and metal studs
- Masonry tiles and etc.
Before you decide to get an emergency restoration company to dry out the water damage at home, seek approval from your insurance company first. If not, you’ll end up paying the difference out of your own pocket. Try to look up on the special procedures you need to follow in order make a successful claim for an emergency restoration service.
Having water damage or any damage to your property is no fun. In fact it sucks! For most people, their home is the biggest investment they ever make in their lifetime. For others, it’s more than just a financial investment—it’s an emotional investment too! To see the home you’ve worked hard to buy or build damaged is not an easy thing to accept. However, don’t try to make the matters worse by making wrong and costly insurance blunders. Be smart enough by learning how to protect this important asset—your home—by filing a homeowner’s insurance claim for water damage.
Don’t come ill-prepared the moment water damage or any form of property damage hits your home. Learn the ropes on filing water damage insurance claims, and educate yourself on what your insurance policy covers. Find yourself a reliable public adjuster if your insurance policy allows you. They are a lot cheaper compared to the ones provided by your insurance company, plus they provide honest and unbiased suggestions on what needs to be done for your home.