When should you file a water damage claim?
Water damage can be one of the most expensive repairs needed when filing an insurance claim. Whether it leaks through the ceiling or your floors buckle due to floods, you may end up spending thousands of dollars fixing your property. It is logical to end up filing an insurance claim since many homeowners buy policies hoping to never use them. You buy the insurance policy in the first place to help pay for the massive expenses of a disaster.
As with most insurance claims, however, there is a chance that your insurer may deny your claim. To decrease the chances of your insurance denying your claim, you should document the loss with photos and file the claim as soon as you can. Many property owners wait until the water has been removed or dried out before notifying their insurance agent or broker. Contacting your insurance agent or broker should be the first thing you do when an event occurs for proper documentation.
Gradual damage vs sudden damage
Depending on how the water damage occurred in your property, your insurance has the right to deny or approve your water damage claim. A rule of thumb is if the damage occurred gradually, then the claim has a higher chance of being denied. If the damage occurred suddenly and internally, then there is a better chance of the claim being approved.
Damages that occur over a gradual period of time like a slow pipe leak usually end up being denied.
Damages that occur accidentally or suddenly like a tree falling on your roof and then breaking the water pipes have a better chance of being approved. Sudden bursts of water from pipes can not be prevented while gradual leaks from faulty pipes can be prevented if caught early.
Water damage vs flood damage
Some common circumstances of water damage are toilet or appliance overflows. Defective washing machines, water heaters, dishwashers and water damage from extinguishing a fire can be considered sudden or accidental. Your regular homeowner’s policy should cover these types of water damage.
Floods are a separate type of insurance that is usually separate from your regular home insurance policies. Flood insurance is recommended by insurance companies if you are in an area with flood warnings, hurricane seasons or near coastal areas.
Flood damage occurs when water flows from an outside water source and runs into the property. The regular homeowners policy will not cover that claim. Flash floods and heavy rain that accumulates and floods into your property is an example of flood damage.
Common causes of water damage:
Nearly one in fifty homes experience water damage each year, resulting in an average of $8,000 in repairs for each insurance claim. You can imagine how costly the damages can be towards insurance companies as well as self-paying property owners.
To be more prepared and proactive about water damage, it is important to take note of the common causes of water damage and how to take preventative measures against it.
Water damage occurs when excess water accumulates and forms pools of water in areas around a property that is not resistant to water. Some common examples of areas easily affected by water are wood floors, drywalls, and ceilings. Some of the most common causes of water damage come from:
- Faulty or leaking pipes in the property
- Preventative Measures: Place and use smart home devices that detect water or moisture near water sources to immediately notify you when damage occurs.
- Plumbing issues due to poor maintenance
- Preventative Measures: Properly clear drains with non-intrusive chemicals or snake drain cleaners.
- Issues with crawl spaces, basements, and attics
- Preventative Measures: Frequent cleaning and maintenance in seldomly used spaces.
- Household appliances with defects
- HVACs issues
- Preventative Measures: Quarterly maintenance with an HVAC professional to switch filters, clean and inspect for damages.
- Weather and natural disasters like wind, rain and earthquakes
Another preventative measure you can take is to sign up for an Emergency Response Program (ERP). Have a trusted vendor immediately take action when you have a flood, leak or water damage.
Tips for filing your water damage claim
- Contact your agent immediately and file homeowner's claim so the date of loss can be properly documented through voice and text records.
- Take actions to mitigate the damages – call out a plumber to stop the leak and a restoration company like Allied Restoration to dry out the water. By mitigating and stopping the situation from getting worse, the total repairs of the loss will significantly be less expensive.
- Accurately record all repairs performed with detailed expenses. Plumbing and restoration work can be covered by the insurance company.
- Document the process with photos and written texts with third parties if involved. Take pictures of the affected areas and the source of the water damage. If you have pictures of before the incident occurred, that may help your claim.
- For example, a picture of a water heater in the condition you bought it with a receipt of purchase including the dates. Then document the water heater in the condition that caused the water leak to occur.