Water and flooding cause more damage than any other cause of loss, and insurance claims for water damage are the most complicated when it comes to determining if coverage applies and the amount of coverage. Almost every insurance policy excludes certain types of water damage. There may be exclusions such as “wind-driven rain” specified in a policy. Many insurance policies contain exclusions that are “Acts of God” such as hurricanes and floods. Flood damage that is a result of water coming in from outside the insured property is typically only covered with flood insurance.
Flood insurance coverage in the United States is handled separately through the National Flood Insurance Program which is a federal program managed by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). Flood damage claims can become even more complicated under flood insurance with stipulations such as: two or more acres, or two or more properties must be inundated with water to be considered a flood. Then, there is also a distinction between mudslides and mudflow. Mudslides are earth movement, like a landslide for example, and though these are often as result of water, they are not covered under flood insurance. Mudflow which is a steady flowing stream of mud is covered under flood insurance.
Hurricanes are becoming stronger and more frequent as a result of warmer temperatures and they are bringing massive amounts of heavy rain, flash flooding and wind damage. With these catastrophic storms and massive amounts of damage, determining insurance coverage, the causes of damage, and dealing with the insurance claims process can be quite a difficult feat.
Water damage insurance claims can get messy in more than just your home. The following water damage insurance claims tips can help you avoid losing money owed to you from your claim on your insurance policy.
Notify Your Insurance Company Immediately After The Disaster Occurs
Most homeowners’ insurance policies require the homeowner to give “prompt notice” to the insurer. If you fail to report a claim immediately after it occurs, or if you start removing and fixing things before reporting it to your insurance company, then your claim may not be fully honored.
Every insurance company in the world has a 24/7 claims reporting system. Use it, then proceed to the next tip.
Secure The Property And Prevent Additional Damage
Another common property insurance clause is that you’re required to prevent further damage to your property. When water damage occurs, and you can do something to reduce the damage, then you should take that step (without endangering yourself, of course).
If your insurer finds that you could have reduced the damage had you taken a simple action, then your claim may be reduced. In other words, additional damage that occurs after you’ve reported the claim is not always covered by your insurer.
Some of the tips for reducing further water damage inside your home include:
-Removing any standing water
-Drying the affected area
-Boarding up doors or windows to prevent the ingress of water
-Removing property from the water to prevent further damage
While performing these tasks, keep in mind that you should throw away nothing, nor should you alter the scene until the insurance company’s adjuster comes and inspects your property. If you hire professionals or spend any money in order to reduce the amount of loss or damage be sure to keep records and receipts. Most insurance policies will include reimbursement for reasonable expenses to mitigate (reduce) the loss.
Take Photographs And Inventory
Make sure there’s evidence of the damage that occurred to your property. After you’ve performed a basic cleanup and lockdown of the scene, take lots of photographs of all the damage that occurred. One of the most important things to remember when dealing with any type of insurance claim is to always have more evidence than you think you need. So take dozens of photos of all areas of damage, from several distances and angles. Remember to keep organized records of your evidence and all communications between you and your insurer while you’re at it.
Combine your photographs with a written inventory of lost or damaged property. This inventory should include:
-Description of the item
-Make and model number of the items
-Age of items
-Replacement cost of the item (which is the price it would cost to replace the item today, not what you paid for the item 10 years ago), and the item’s real cash value (the value of the item at the time of the loss)
The more detailed you are with photographs and inventory, the better off you’ll be.
Find Temporary Housing To Live In
Water damage can be nasty. It can lead to contaminants, bacteria, mold problems and structural issues. If your home’s safety and security are compromised, then you may need to find temporary housing.
Your insurance company may provide you with additional living expenses. Feel free to use that to get a hotel for the night. However, if your home is going to be unlivable for a long period of time, then your insurer may be responsible for paying for a comparable dwelling for the near future. Be aware that flood insurance policies do not include additional living expenses. If the only cause of damage is covered by your flood insurance policy then there likely will not be any coverage for additional living expenses. Although with a major storm such as a hurricane that causes wind damage and flooding, that wind damage may be covered under your homeowners, commercial property or business owners policy and include additional living expenses. Check your policy and check with your insurance company to determine if additional living expenses are provided.
Consider Hiring ClaimsMate To Get Past Red Tape
If your home has suffered serious water damage – like over $10,000 in damages – then a public adjuster may be a great option to get professional assistance with your insurance claim. A public adjuster is a licensed professional who represents homeowners and business owners like you – not the insurance company.
In short, ClaimsMate knows the insurance industry comprehensively and will put that knowledge to work on your behalf. This can be the difference between having your water damage insurance claim fully covered – or missing out on tens of thousands’ of dollars in compensation legally owed to you.