Water Damage – A Claim Nightmare

Did you know that one of the most damaging claims you can have on a homeowners policy, is also preventable?

Water damages to the interior of your home is likely the homeowner insurance claim you will experience. Statistics show that there is almost a 70% chance you will experience some type of water damage claim, large or small. One statistic, which is extraordinary, is that the EPA estimates that over 25% of homeowners have a water leak to which they are unaware. Scary isn’t it?

Water damage claims can make you home unlivable and in the long run can also bring on hidden mold damage. Mold damage is usually not covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy. There are steps you can take to prevent and minimize the chances for a water damage claim coming from leaking or burst pipes. Many water damage claims occur when your home is unoccupied for a period of time.

Here are some tips for both cold weather and warm weather areas:

  • Insulate your pipes which are most exposed to cold temps
  • Turn off water supply to your washing machine, icemaker, toilets and other bathroom fixtures
  • Install a leak detection system – there are many in the market today. These devices will automatically turn off the water supply should a leak be recognized, perfect for secondary or vacation homes
  • If you have a sump pump test it throughout the year
  • Turn off water to the house and drain pipes if you will be gone for an extend period of time such as months
  • Check you hose fittings to your washer – metal fittings are preferred
  • Shut off supply line to any water softener
  • Replace the water heater per mfg recommendations – may leaks occur due to faulty water heaters

Yes, water damage claims from pipes or internal fixtures are covered by homeowner’s insurance, but put up with the inconvenience and the indirect costs associated with a water damage claim. Any ounce of prevention is always preferred.

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What to Do If You Have A Property Claim

How to maximize your recovery and ensure a smooth claim process:

  1. Take photos of the damage
  2. Protect your property from further damage – this may entail some temporary repairs
  3. Do not allow the disposal of any damaged property until the claim is settled
  4. You, the insured, control who can do temp repairs or mitigate cleaning. You have the right to approve anyone who works on your property
  5. Can you still occupy the premises? If not make arrangements for temporary accommodations
  6. List and inventory the damaged items – remember it is your responsibility to prove your claim
  7. Identify items damaged by Make or Model # if available – if possible use an Excel spreadsheet
  8. Pricing of the items can be found on the internet – remember we want the current replacement cost value of the item
  9. Remember you are paid on the replacement cost value only if you replace the item, otherwise you only receive the depreciated actual cash value
  10. Document every phone call, email or contact with the insurance company and adjuster
  11. Do not sign any documents that state it is final payment of the claim
  12. Consider hiring a public adjuster if the claim is too large or complicated. The public adjuster represents your interests
  13. You have the right to request a new adjuster or any expert the insurance carrier sends out if you are not comfortable with the level of expertise
  14. Always be in attendance when the adjuster visits
  15. Always get permissions granted by the insurance adjuster in writing
  16. Request a copy of the adjuster’s report to the insurance company
  17. Always insist on the level of quality and tradesmen who built the house or certain parts of it. You are not required to accept lesser quality.
  18. If you feel you are getting the runaround, seek out the department of insurance and or local attorney who specializes in property insurance claims