Water Damage Claims
Water is a major cause of damage to homes. From pipe bursts to roof leaks to floods, there are a lot of ways water can damage a home. Water can cause a lot of damage to a home even if it’s cleaned up immediately. But it can cause even more damage over time, including warping and mold. Standard homeowners’ insurance policies typically cover water damage, but they do exclude some perils. Hurricanes and floods from the weather are typically not covered perils.
Millions of homeowners across the country pay into insurance policies so that when something happens to their home, their insurance company will be able to cover it for them. Isn’t that what the insurance policy is for? But insurance companies are still businesses that want to make a profit. Insurance companies can’t make money if they’re paying out a lot of money in claims.
Some insurance companies may deny claims in bad faith in order to increase their profits. If your home has sustained water damage and your insurance company has denied your claim, you may have a case. Contact Farah & Farah for a free consultation today. You won’t have to pay a dime unless your case is successful.
What Can Cause Water Damage?
Water damage can be caused by a number of perils. Any time water enters a home where it shouldn’t, water damage can occur. The water can come from an external source, such as weather, or an internal source, such as an appliance or pipes.
A pipe burst occurs when a pipe inside a house is no longer able to withstand the pressure from the water running through it and bursts, either in the middle of the pipe or at a joint. A pipe burst can be either a small leak that seeps into the walls and floors and causes a lot of damage over time or a large explosion of water that causes a lot of damage all at once. Typically, pipe bursts are covered by homeowners’ insurance, unless the insurance company believes a lack of maintenance is to blame.
A sewer backup can cause a large amount of water as well as other unpleasant material to seep into a house. They occur when a blockage in the sewer line prevents water and other waste from flowing away from your house as it should. They’re also often not covered under homeowners’ insurance policies.
A roof leak can cause water to drip from the roof through the attic and down onto the ceiling before it drips into the room below. Water from a roof leak can get into the walls, where it can get into the insulation or into the wiring, which can increase the risk of a fire. It can also ruin carpeting and belongings inside the house.
A hurricane can cause a lot of water to get into a house very quickly. The strong winds can break windows or drop trees and branches on top of roofs, causing water to get in through the roof. For those who live on the coast, storm surges from the ocean can flood a house, causing a lot of water damage. Depending on your location, you may be required to purchase extra hurricane insurance to cover potential hurricane damage.
When a flood occurs, whether it’s caused by heavy rain or another source, a lot of water can get into a house, starting in the basement or first floor. Anything located in the affected area can be damaged. Plus, water can damage electrical appliances and equipment. Moisture from the flood can cause mold to form.
Flood vs. Water Damage
Insurance companies may consider floods and water damage to be completely different perils. A flood, in this case, would be caused by an external source, such as a storm, and would likely not be covered by the insurance policy. Water damage, on the other hand, would be caused by an internal source such as a pipe burst and would be covered.
What Damage Can Water Cause?
Water can cause extensive damage to a home if not cleaned up properly and quickly. Some damage can occur immediately, such as damage to property like furniture and other belongings. Other damage from water can take some time to form and therefore may be prevented.
Moisture inside a home can cause mold and mildew to grow. Mold isn’t just unsightly, it’s also a health hazard to the people living inside the home. Mold can grow in places where it’s not easily visible, making it difficult to detect and get rid of once it grows.
Water can seep into porous materials like wood and cause it to warp. This includes furniture and even wood floors. The wood can swell, warp, and even split apart. This sort of damage can occur after only a few days.
If water gets into the rooms of a house, the belongings within can get damaged. Electronics can get waterlogged. Books, photographs, and other paper items can be ruined. Furniture can warp or grow mold.
If water gets inside the walls of a house, it can affect the electrical wiring, increasing the risk of a spark that could cause a fire. Water can also damage electrical appliances and cause a short. Outlets, appliances, and wires could be the source of a fire, which could cause additional and far more devastating damage to your home.
How Can I Prevent Water Damage?
Some water damage can’t be prevented. If a storm causes a roof leak or a hurricane blows through your location or a flood occurs, there might not be much you can do to prevent the water damage that can follow. No one can control the weather.
However, damage caused by sources inside the house may be preventable with some regular maintenance.
Both the plumbing system and the roof, which can be sources of entry for water into the home, should be kept maintained. This may mean having a professional come in to look at them and make any necessary repairs. It’s important to keep maintenance records because insurance companies may deny a claim if the damage was caused by a lack of maintenance.
If you know that a storm is coming, there are some steps that you can take to try to prevent water damage. This may mean shoring up windows so that they won’t break in the high winds. You can also make sure that your gutters are properly directing water away from your home.
What Water Damage is Covered By My Insurance Policy?
Standard homeowners’ insurance policies typically cover some water damage, but not all. The difference comes in with the peril that caused the water damage. Most standard homeowners’ insurance policies will cover water damaged caused by an internal source, such as from the plumbing or a pipe burst or a roof leak. They don’t typically cover water damage from a flood or even a hurricane.
Water Exclusion Clause
A water exclusion clause is a clause in an insurance policy that excludes certain perils that can cause water damage from being covered by the policy. These clauses typically exclude water damage from things like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, etc. However, some weather-related causes are still included. The water exclusion clause typically excludes perils that are considered more of a risk, such as hurricanes in Florida.
Because Florida is prone to hurricanes, water damage from these storms is typically not included in standard homeowners’ insurance policies. There may be an additional deductible that is required to be met before the insurance company will pay for anything. There may also be a separate hurricane insurance policy.
Flooding is also typically excluded from standard homeowners’ insurance policies. This is especially true if the flooding is caused by weather, such as rain or a hurricane. If flooding is caused by a pipe burst, however, that water damage is often not excluded from the policy.
How Do I Make a Water Damage Claim?
If your home has been damaged by water, you should first submit a claim to your insurance company before considering any kind of legal action. You’ll also want to make sure you take all the proper steps to make the claim the right way so that the insurance company doesn’t have an excuse to deny your claim.
Assess the Damage
The first step is to thoroughly assess the damage. The true extent of the damage may be difficult to determine on your own, so you may want to call in a professional to inspect it. This has the added benefit of being able to prove the actual cost of the damage to your insurance company.
When you make the claim, the insurance company will send out an adjuster to inspect the damage. However, the adjuster may be biased in favor of the insurance company. Having an independent professional examine the damage can help bolster your case with your insurance company.
You should also thoroughly document all damage. Keep any reports from the professional who inspected the damage. Take photographs of everything.
Review Your Insurance Policy
It’s also important to know exactly what your insurance company covers and what it excludes. Before you go through the process of filing a claim, you’ll want to know if the peril that caused the water damage is covered or not. You’ll also want to know if there’s a deductible on your policy or any other requirements or limitations to your policy.
Notify Your Insurance Company
You should notify your insurance company as soon as possible of the damage. Water damage can get a lot worse over time, so the longer you wait, the greater the chance that the damage will become a lot more extensive. The longer moisture is in your house, the more likely mold will grow. In addition, while the insurance company should cover the damage from any covered peril, they may not cover damage sustained because the repair and cleanup were left too late.
Keep Maintenance Records
You should keep maintenance records for everything done on your home. This is so that you can prove to your insurance company that the damage wasn’t caused by a lack of maintenance. During the repair process, these records will also prove if you’ve met your deductible if one exists, and show how much you’ve paid if the insurance company is reimbursing you for the costs.
Why Was My Water Damage Claim Denied?
Insurance companies are businesses. This means that despite the money that you may have been paying them for your policy, the company doesn’t want to cover any damages that may occur if at all possible. Some companies may deny claims in bad faith in order to make a profit.
Lack of Maintenance
If the damage was caused or exacerbated by a failure to properly maintain the home, the claim may be denied. For example, if a roof was leaking because of wear and tear on the roofing materials that hadn’t been repaired, the insurance company may not cover the damage. This is why keeping records of maintenance is important, so you can prove to your insurance company that you have kept up with regular maintenance.
Disagreement About Cause
Because water damage can be caused by so many different perils, some of which are covered by the insurance policy and some of which are not, your claim may be denied because the insurance company thinks the damage was caused by a peril that was excluded from the policy. You may have to prove to your insurance company that the damage was caused by a covered peril.
Difference in Valuation
Even if your insurance company accepts your claim, the company may disagree on how much the damage will cost to repair. This is where a professional inspection will help. If you had an independent contractor come in and assess the damage to your property, you may have documentation that can help prove to your insurance company that it will cost more to repair then their valuation.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
If your home has suffered water damage from a peril that is covered by your insurance policy, but the company denied your claim anyway, you may have a case. A lawyer can not only help you understand the details of your insurance policy and any laws that may be relevant to what your insurance company is required to cover, but also determine whether your claim was denied in bad faith.
Farah & Farah’s team of skilled lawyers is here to help fight against unscrupulous insurance companies that deny claims in bad faith in order to put profit over people. We’re experienced at taking on insurance companies and want to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us to schedule a free consultation. You won’t have to pay anything unless your case is successful.