Whether it’s caused by a storm, flood, or break-in, water damage in your home can be one of the most costly, hazardous issues. If you have a homeowners insurance policy, you may or may not have had to file a claim on water damage in the past. Though filing any type of homeowners insurance claim is not the most enjoyable process, your homeowners insurance company will work alongside you to make sure the repairs are done as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Will You Be Covered?
The first step you’ll need to take is determining whether or not your damage will receive insurance coverage. For burst pipes due to extreme weather, vandalism, storms, or other situations that are completely out of your control, you should be able to have these damages covered. If the water damage is a result of flooding, leaks from pipes that haven’t received proper and timely maintenance, or water seepage through the ground, you will most likely not be protected by your homeowners insurance company. In short, your insurance company will not allow you to file a claim if they believe the cause of the accident is your fault, whether it had to do with negligence or forgoing a flood insurance add-on.
A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words
Once you’ve decided that you deserve to be protected by your homeowners insurance policy, the next step is take photos of the areas that were affected the most by the incident and of the source of the issue, whether it’s a burst pipe or hole in the wall or roof. Taking photos right after the accident occurs is a strong way for your insurer to assess the situation, but it’s also a way to prove to your insurance company that any mold that may form was caused by the incident. Mold is only covered when it is proven to be a result of the claimed incident, so including this in your claim with photographic proof will save you a lot in repairs.
Write It Down
In order to have your personal property covered by the water damage, make an inventory of all the items that were damaged, including the model, make, or other specific details about each object. Mark down the replacement cost and the actual cash value of each item as well. This inventory sheet may be time-consuming, but it’s important in making sure your personal property is adequately covered. If you hoard receipts, you’re in even better shape.
Making the Claim
Now that you’ve got some photos to show to your insurance company, it’s time to give them a call. Speaking with an agent about the damage is a crucial step in helping them determine whether or not they will cover the damages, and it also helps you decide if you want to go through with the claim based on the cost of your deductible. If the estimate is substantially lower than the amount you would pay in a deductible, you might consider not filing a claim in the first place. (However, this is a rare occurrence, as water damage repairs tend to cost quite a lot.)
Your insurer will send an adjuster to inspect the damage. Make sure you’re at home when the adjuster comes so you can answer any questions he or she might have regarding the incident. If you feel that the adjuster offers an estimate that you feel is too low for the damage you have, you’re entitled to hire a contractor to assess the damage. If the contractor agrees with you that the adjuster offered too low of a quote, you’re allowed to negotiate with your insurer on this rate. When you and your insurance company come to an agreement on the quote, your insurer will send you half the payment to covers these repairs in advance. Once the repairs are completed, the insurer will send you the second half, minus your deductible.
If you have never experienced water damage or have just experienced it and don’t want to go through it again, try to take certain precautions to make the claim process as simple as possible. First, be sure to take photos of the area before it’s damaged; that way, your insurance company will have a “before” and “after” look at how the incident affected your home.
Water damage is costly. If mold forms as a result of water damage, your safety could be at stake. Make sure you’re proactive in either making a claim or repairing these damages without making a claim. Your home could even be deemed unlivable if the water damage is severe enough, so be sure to make your safety the priority.