Water Damage Claim
Water damage is one of the most frequent home insurance claims. In fact, the high number of water damage claims and a combination of other factors is the real reason behind the soaring home insurance rates. These claims increase the financial burden on carriers who in turn transfer the financial expense to homeowners in the form of higher rates. A standard home insurance policy entails coverage for sudden, accidental water damage. For instance, if an upstairs pipe breaks and saturates the ceiling below or the water heater ruptures and drenches drywall, your homeowner’s policy is probably going to cover the damages.
Flood Vs. Water Damage Claims
However, in many cases, claim disputes arise when homeowners seek compensation after extensive water damage. These disputes result from confusion since many homeowners fail to understand the specifics of their coverage. There are two types of water cleanup-related plans. They are flood insurance and water damage coverage in your homeowner’s insurance. They are two complementary home insurance coverage types that may, or may not, overlap. The major difference between these coverage types is the source of the water.
Flood insurance covers damages resulting from a large body of water finding its way into your house. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers separate flood insurance policies under the National Flood Insurance Program. Water damage resulting from within your house (burst pipes and broken household appliances) are typically covered by your homeowners’ insurance policy. Note that not all losses will be covered under your homeowners’ policy and your claim could easily be denied.
How Do I Know what’s Covered in My Homeowners’ Insurance and what’s Not?
The details of your water damage coverage are hidden in the wording of your policy. Make sure that you read and understand the specific coverage. If you find the wording too technical, you can reach out for help from an agent or a broker. An insurer will always try to avoid paying your claim to protect its bottom line. The primary duties of insurance adjusters and investigators are to find a reason to deny your claim, so if you don’t read your policy carefully, you give them a chance to deny your claim.
Filing the Claim
If extensive water damages occur at your house, your first step will be to establish if the loss is covered by your policy to avoid the denial of your claim. After that, approach your insurer with a list of items that sustained excessive water damages. It helps to have a property inventory with you in this kind of situation. Where possible, present the insurer with prices, warranties, and proof of purchase and equipment model for the damaged properties.
Take as many pictures as you can. While it may be important to mitigate the loss by taking the necessary steps to prevent further damage, leaving clear evidence of what caused the water damage in place is crucial. Try to avoid situations where it’s the adjuster word against yours; you’ll lose. Taking photos of the original situation is essential to the process.
The insurance company will send an adjuster to investigate your claim and the circumstances of your loss. Depending on your coverage and the nature of the damages, the adjuster will explain the due process. It the damage is extensive, and the adjuster decides that it’s covered, the insurance may recommend a water damage restoration company or agree to work with a company of your choice in the restoration and reconstruction of your damaged house.
Things to Avoid
Do not claim things you have never possessed or inflate the value of the things own. Attempting any of these things will result in dire consequences. You may lose your indemnity, and you’ll have a very hard time purchasing coverage from another carrier if that happens.
What’s Not Covered?
In most cases, standard homeowners’ insurance will not cover the source of the water damage. The coverage will pay for the cost of tearing down and replacing your damaged ceiling, drywall or flooring but will not replace your faulty washing machine, dishwasher or burst hot water pipe.
Also, if the water damage resulted from a broken sewer line or drain outside your house, the insurer may refuse to pay the claim. Damage resulting from floods will not be covered by your standard homeowners’ coverage. You will have to purchase a separate flood insurance coverage to complement the homeowners’ policy if you want sufficient coverage from water damage. If the water damage extends outside the house, say to property laying in the yard, swimming pool, or an attached garage, the insurance company will most likely pay for the losses.
The most denied type of claim is gradual damage. Gradual damage occurs slowly over time and causes massive damage to your house. This type of damage is common in American homes. Our houses are complex structures. All we see are our decorations, ceiling, and walls but beneath those walls is a system of electrical wiring, pipes, ventilation systems and other things that keep the house running. Anything could go wrong within all those layers of activity and what’s worse is that you may never find out until the damage is already done.
If a pipe leaks and causes water damage to the walls or on the ceiling, you will file a claim under your homeowners’ insurance. However, if the insurance adjuster finds out the damage wasn’t sudden or accidental and instead it was a long standing problem that went on undetected, you claim will be denied. Therefore, conduct frequent verification of the key components in your house through proper maintenance procedures to avoid claim denial due to gradual damage.
Effects of Denied Claims
Make sure you have all information regarding water damage from your homeowners’ insurance. Understand all your responsibilities the homeowner as well as all the listed policy exclusions. Denied claims lead to higher rates, so try to avoid them at all costs. However, if you feel like the insurer is denying or delaying your claim in bad faith, seek the services of an experienced attorney.