Water damage is one of the most common insurance claims, second only to wind and hail damage, according to the Insurance Services Office. Homeowners Losses Ranked by Claims Frequency
Approximately 1 in 60 homes with insurance have a property damage claim caused by water damage or freezing each year (Facts + Statistics: Homeowners and Renters Insurance). Given this, it's not surprising that many property owners have questions about filing a water damage claim and understanding what is covered.
What to do if I need to file an insurance claim for water damage?
If you need to file a water damage claim under your property insurance policy, here are 6 steps to help you get started.
Step 1: Mitigate the water damage without doing a total repair (Don’t Destroy Your Evidence).
Your property insurance contract may have certain requirements that you must undertake to maintain insurance coverage after water damage has occurred. Take immediate action to locate the source and stop the water from flowing.
Most insurance contracts have a "Duty to Mitigate" clause which requires you to take reasonable steps to minimize water damage. However, these standards can be vague, making it easy for insurance companies to deny claims.
Some Reasonable Mitigation Methods:
Shut the water valve off
Shut the water meter off
Use Dryers (rentable) to stop the mold (mold is usually excluded)
Place a tarp over the opening in your roof where the water is leaking
If your insurance company denies or underpays your water damage claim, an experienced property insurance attorney can help you recover compensation for your property loss.
Step 2: Confirm that the water damage is covered under your property insurance policy.
Water damage is usually covered by property insurance if it's accidental or sudden. In other words, you couldn't have predicted that the damage would occur. Review your insurance policy to find the water events that are covered in your homeowner’s insurance policy.
What type of water damage does my home or commercial property insurance policy cover?
Your insurance policy may cover the following:
Sudden or accidental discharges of water (e.g. burst pipe)
Sewer backup or water backup
Storm-related water damage
Step 3: Call your homeowner’s insurance agent and file your water damage claim.
According to FEMA, mold and mildew can develop 24-48 hours after exposure. Call your insurance agent as soon as possible.
Many insurance companies offer 24-hour automated services to help you file claims by phone or online. Your insurance company may also be able to refer a water damage/restoration company to help with mitigation and clean-up.
Step 4: Take pictures of the damaged area and any damaged belongings.
Taking pictures of the damage will help you build evidence to support your claim. The more picture the better so make sure you take pictures of everything affected by the damage.
NOTE: In the event of water damage, most insurance policies do not cover the appliance that caused the problem in the first place. For example, if your ice maker or dishwasher leaks behind your cabinets, your insurance may cover replacement drywall and cabinets, but not a new fridge or dishwasher. C&S Insurance
Step 5: Meet with your assigned claims adjuster.
Once your claim has been filed an Independent Adjuster (IA) or a company adjuster will be assigned to your claim. This adjuster will evaluate the water damage and take pictures.
To estimate the cost of repairs and identify fault, your adjuster may ask questions about how and when the property damage occurred.
What if the water damage was your fault?
Even if you caused the problem unless you intentionally created the problem, your insurance policy would shield you. "If you install your own toilet (improperly, by accident), and water starts raining through your ceiling, you are still covered" (C&S Insurance).
Step 6: Call an expert property insurance attorney at The Cedrick D. Forrest Law Firm.
The insurance companies are known to blame the policyholder for failing to properly maintain their property. Hiring an expert property insurance attorney can help you get the proper settlement for your claim.
Here’s what you can expect from our experienced property insurance attorneys:
Our team will assist you with your claim management.
Your attorney will prepare you for your Examination Under Oath (EUO).
We will take the necessary steps to ensure that supplemental settlement payments aren’t unnecessarily delayed.
A team member will attend inspections and re-inspections.
Your attorney will engage an expert to determine the cause of your water damage if the carrier denies coverage.
We will negotiate the settlement for repairs if the carrier underpays your claim.
Remember, your insurance policy is a legally binding contract. Insurance companies often try to deny claims by excluding coverages or making low settlement offers. Let your property insurance attorney enforce the terms of the homeowner’s insurance contract.
What to do if my insurance claim has been denied or payment is delayed?
If your insurer is delaying payment of your claim or denying your property damage claim, you should contact a skilled property insurance lawyer for assistance. Let our experienced lawyers help you protect your home and commercial business.
If you need to file a water damage insurance claim, call us toll-free today at 1-888-777-1204 to begin your case.