One of the major causes of home insurance claims is water damage. This is also the type of claim that has several gray areas as some scenarios may be covered while others may not. These types of claims are increasing and most homeowners are wondering about what is covered. A good look at your policy wordings may uncover the mystery and you may also review your policy with your home insurance company. This would help to get the right level of coverage when you buy the policy and know the exclusions too. In any case, you may not agree to the claims settlement if you find it unfair. You may dispute it but do not sign the release form. Be aware of your rights and obligations and you may expect a positive outcome. Even for a water damage claim!
Making A Homeowners Insurance Claim For Water Damage
Inform your insurer
It is very important that you notify your insurer as soon as possible about the water damage. All insurers have a claims department open 24/7, whether day or night. You may not attempt to repair or remove damaged contents until the claims adjuster has assessed the damage.
Secure your property
After you report your claim to the insurer, you may expect an adjuster to visit you to assess the damages. It is your obligation to secure your property and make arrangements to avoid further damages. You may remove any stagnant water and dry out the area as part of emergency repairs.
Find alternative living arrangements
If your home is not fit to live in then you may look for temporary housing. This is part of your additional living expenses for an insured peril and you may inform the insurer. You are entitled to a comparable level of accommodation and contents until you can move back to your home.
Keep an inventory of damaged stuff
You have to make a detailed list of all damaged contents. Make sure that you include the make, model number, age & item description, the replacement cost of the item, and the actual cash value. However, if any items are totally destroyed then you may make an inventory based on your memory. This is not easy and you may also have to provide some kind of proof of purchase or ownership of those items.
Hire a professional
Quite often you may find the services of a licensed claims adjuster helpful through the claims process. They represent you and not the insurer and so would handle all the claims aspects to your benefit. This includes temporary residence, contents inventory, repair estimates, and also negotiating with your insurer for a fair deal.
Beware Of the Mistakes For A Water Damage Claim
When you file your claim with the insurer do not use the words ‘flood’ or ‘flooded’ if there was no flood damage. Flood damage may be a common exclusion and hence a red flag. For example, if a washing machine hose bursts and water fills up in the laundry room, do not file a claim for flooded water.
Early repairs before claim approval
Just after informing your insurer, do not start any repairs on your own even though you may be tempted. Your claims adjuster may want to see the damages and the site without any alterations or repairs.
Do not discard damaged stuff
Do not throw any damaged stuff since this may not favor you. Once the damaged contents are assessed then the adjuster may write to you to discard those. Take photos or record videos before you discard damaged stuff as these are all evidence of damage.
You have a choice in vendors
It is not necessary that you have to accept your insurer’s contractors for repairs or clean-ups. In very rare cases, the insurer may insist on a particular vendor. You may keep a record of past vendors who had done a good job of repairs etc. over many years for you. When you suffer a loss you may contact them to get a fair estimate.
Do not pay your claim settlement to third parties/vendors
When you hire a vendor for repairs, your insurer may want to cut the settlement cheque payable to them. Do not agree to this as you may not know if the repairs may be done on schedule and to your satisfaction. So, the best idea is to have all settlement cheques payable directly to you and then you pay the contractor as per your agreement with them.
Water Damage Claim Tips
It is possible that the claims adjuster may deny or underestimate your water damage claim. So, you may keep some tips in mind to get the best outcome for your claim.
Get a copy of your insurance contract
Your insurance contract outlines your policy coverage, your obligations, and any exclusion. This will help when there is any dispute and a public adjuster that you hire may interpret the policy wordings for you.
Mitigate the damage
You may start to mitigate the water damage temporarily to avoid further damages. But you may not restore or rebuild the damages unless you have agreed with the insurer about the damages.
Take photos, record videos, and save samples of damaged items to document the loss. Save any samples of totally destroyed items.
The claims adjuster would assess the extent of the damage and send a report to the insurer. Whether it was your contractor, adjuster or insurer may matter as each plays a different role, so you must clear any misunderstandings.
You may get estimates for the damages using different contractors to replace or repair the damages. At least 3 estimates may be obtained that you may submit to the insurer.
Request explanation for any delay
If your claim has not been settled within 45 days then you may ask your insurer for an explanation in writing.
Hire a public adjuster
You may also hire a public adjuster, although at a cost who would work in your favor for a fair deal.
Know your additional living allowance
When you vacate your home due to water damages, confirm with your insurer about your additional living expenses coverage. Keep a record of all expenses from the day you vacate till the day you return.
Water Damage Claim Denied
Your insurer may not cover water seeping through siding, windows, foundation, or overland flooding. You may need to purchase a sewer backup coverage add-on as it is not part of standard policy. When your insurer denies your water damage claim, you may ask them to give you a full explanation in writing. It is your right to know why the claim was denied and which part of the policy wording justifies the denial reason. There are many people involved in your claims process that represent your insurer so you must know who formed the decision. If you are still not sure why your claim was not covered and need a review then you may discuss it with your insurance representative.
Check if you could have got coverage for that type of damage by adding an endorsement as this may help in the future. If you could get that coverage elsewhere then consider a switch so that you are adequately protected. When you are sure that your policy should have covered the water damages then you may approach the Insurance Ombudsman Service. You could file a complaint and request for a review too. If you were right and the insurer denied your claim in bad faith then they may have to compensate you for that.
Home Water Damage Recovery What Should Insurance Pay
It should pay you as per your policy limits for insured damage. When you file a home insurance claim, for a covered water damage risk they will dispatch a qualified restoration contractor. You may choose this contractor or another contractor to provide you with emergency restoration services. They will visit your home and identify the source of water damage, assess the scope, and perform emergency repairs. For this, they may get moisture readings and humidity level checks inside and outside your home. They determine the volume of equipment that is needed to dry out your home. When you authorize their restoration contract and your insurer agrees to settle your claim, they would pay as per the contract.
Typically the restoration would involve removing all stagnant water, preventing bacterial growth, protecting adjacent rooms and contents, etc. These may be done by using dehumidifiers and high-speed air movers and dryers. In 3 to 5 days, the emergency services may manage to dry out the moisture levels in your home back to normal. When applicable, the cost of repairing drywalls, floors, cabinets, carpets, and ceilings is also included in your claim. This would depend on the claims assessment and your coverage. Any damaged contents may be restored, replaced or you may receive compensation for their depreciated value (electronics). This would be as per the current replacement value of the damaged items. The insurer would explain to you as to what costs for restoration for home and contents, their repair or replacement would be paid by the claim.
Does Home Insurance Cover Water Damage From Roof
Not if it was due to gradual damage. If you had ignored a hole or a chip in the roof then your claim for water damage could be declined. However, during a severe storm if a tree fell on your roof damaging it then it might be covered. In this case, the part of the roof impacted by the tree may only be covered, and do not expect to replace the whole roof. Sometimes, a few months after such repairs you may smell mold or some dampness. Then you need to inform your insurer right away. So that this is treated as part of the original claim and the repairs were not perfectly done.
Does Home Insurance Cover Water Damage To Laptop
Yes in some cases. Your home insurance may cover water damage to your laptop if it is specifically mentioned in your coverage. You may need to check if your policy covers electronics for water damage. Most often if your policy covers only permanent fixtures then the laptop damage may not be covered. If you had used your laptop for any business purposes then that is another reason for your claim denial. You may also need to prove that the water damage was not due to your negligence or ignorance. If you left your laptop near an open window during rain then who is to be blamed?
In case your claim is covered then you may expect the insurer to pay you the current market value. This means that they will reimburse you for the depreciated value of the laptop. You may pay a deductible too and then it is up to you to decide whether it is worth claiming.
Does Home Insurance Cover Water Damage From Rain
Yes, when it is unexpected and sudden. Most home insurance policies cover water damage that is accidental or sudden and this includes rain. A heavy downpour is sudden and could cause severe damage. However, if the damage was due to poor maintenance and gradual wear & tear of your home then it may not be covered. Any negligent action from you may trigger the alarms for the claims adjuster. Your insurer may deny your claim citing reasons for maintenance and plumbing issues that were pending for a long.
Does Home Insurance Cover Water Damage To iPhone
Yes if you have cover for personal possessions/contents on your home insurance. Again if the water damage to your iPhone was due to your negligence then it may not be covered. Instead, you may check with your phone insurer as they may have a lower deductible. More than likely it may not be worth claiming for your phone on your home insurance and then losing your no-claims discount. Another interesting aspect is that Apple may replace your iPhone if it was brand new and less than 12 months. This depends on a case-by-case basis and you may be given a new replacement phone, the first time.
Does Home Insurance Cover Water Damage From Ice Dams
Yes, quite often the water damage may be covered but not the ice dam removal. When ice on the roof edge stops melting water to run off, it creates ice dams. If the ice dam damages your home then it could be covered as per your policy terms and limits. This type of damage can be avoided if you do maintenance on regular basis, especially during winter. This would stop any gutter blocks and let the water runoff easily.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage From Burst Pipes
Yes, you may be able to claim burst pipes on your home insurance policies under certain policy conditions. You may not leave your home vacant for more than 4 days without any heat. And you must also appoint someone to supervise the property daily. Else, your claim for burst pipes could be denied. Read through your policy documents to check your policy terms and limits for burst pipes.
Will Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage From Leaking Or Broken Pipe
Not if it was due to gradual wear and tear damage or poor maintenance. If you ignore cracks on pipes then they may leak causing huge damage later. If your washing machine pipe leaks suddenly and damages the floor then that may be covered. Any continuous leaking faucet or plumbing issues must be taken care of and not ignored. Such a mistake may cost dear when later on you claim for water damages. Your insurer may deny your claim since you did not perform maintenance and leaks do not happen overnight.
Will Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage From Dishwasher
Yes, if it was sudden damage and not gradual damage. If you don’t maintain your dishwasher and it breaks down due to wear and tear then that may not be covered. Most often, when a dishwasher breaks down suddenly it may damage the floor. Your policy may cover the damaged floor and the costs of replacing it. However, you may not be covered for the replacement cost of the dishwasher itself. Usually, the source of water damage is not covered and hence they may not replace the dishwasher.
Will Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage due to Broken Toilet
Yes, any water damage due to a broken toilet may be covered if sudden or accidental. If there had been some blockage or leaks that you ignored earlier then you may be out of luck. Any gradual damage, even a broken toilet due to poor upkeep may cause water damages and your insurer may deny your claim. They may cite this as your negligence and poor maintenance of plumbing and toilet leakage. However, accidental damage to the toilet and the subsequent water damage would be covered. The home insurance claims adjuster may ask questions to check whether you were negligent in the maintenance of the toilet.