If your home has received water damage, it’s always helpful to have some knowledge under your belt when it comes to dealing with water damage and your insurance company. Knowing exactly what is covered and how to get the help you need will prevent delays, and lessen your time frame as well as stress level when dealing with an insurance claim. Here are a few things to know about water damage and insurance.
Notify a Restoration Professional Immediately
The most important thing is to make sure you and your family are safe, especially if your house is flooded. You will want to make sure the electricity is shut off to prevent anyone from getting electrical shocks. As soon as possible, call a restoration professional. They can give you additional advice on how to stay safe and prevent further damage until help arrives. They will also help you navigate getting a claim started with your insurance company. Restoration professionals deal with insurance companies on a daily basis, they are well-prepared to help you through the claims process.
Know What You Are Covered For
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your homeowner’s insurance will automatically cover you for flood-related damage. This type of damage may be covered by the National Flood Insurance Policy (NFIP), which is separate from your homeowner’s insurance. When you call to report your claim, your insurer will ask whether the damage is from flooding or an accident, such as severe weather or a pipe breaking in your home. This will allow them to direct your claim through the proper channels.
Keep Up with Home Maintenance
Most homeowners policies list exclusions to your coverage for water damage. They will cover damage that has happens from a sudden occurrence versus damage that has resulted from the homeowner not properly maintaining their home or property. For instance, if your roof is in need of repair and has been leaking and damage has occurred inside your home, it may not be covered. However, water damage that occurs immediately after your roof being torn up during a storm would be covered.
Racing the Clock to Prevent Further Damage
Once damage occurs, the clock starts ticking before more extensive damage begins; typically within 24 to 48 hours. This is known as secondary damage, and it may not be covered by your insurer if it were humanly possible for water restoration steps to start before that time. Once it has set in, you will need a professional service to remediate, prevent continued damage, and related health risks in the future. Depending on the level of contamination in the water, you may require additional services to sanitize your home and remove harmful bacteria or chemicals.
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Don’t wait until your home has water damage to learn more about your insurance policy. Speak with your agent to find out what exactly you are covered for in the event that your home is damaged by water.
Water damage in your home is an all-too-common problem. From relatively small events to more extensive water damage restoration needed for walls and flooring, it’s always an unexpected headache.
Most homeowners insurance policies cover the cost of water damage restoration, but there are some definite exclusions and limitations.
Damage from Natural Causes
In general, most policies will cover damage that is “sudden and unforeseen.” If your roof leaks and causes damage because it’s old and has not been replaced or properly maintained, it probably won’t be covered. But if a sudden storm has high winds and damages your roof, and the accompanying rain comes in and causes damage as a result, your insurance company will probably pay for the damage and cover the cost of water damage restoration.
Flood damage, however, is usually not covered. If you live near a creek that overflows its banks and floods your home, your water damage restoration costs probably won’t be covered. Depending on where you live, you may be able to purchase a flood insurance policy that covers this kind of occurrence through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Damage from Interior Sources
Policies usually will cover water damage that occurred inside the home, unless it was caused by neglect. If, for example, you leave a home unoccupied and unheated which causes a pipe to freeze and burst, you probably won’t be covered. But if a washing machine pipe suddenly burst and caused damage, the cost of water damage restoration should be covered. So will your personal items that were damaged. You will have to pay your deductible first, which usually is a minimum of $500 depending on your policy.
NOTE: It is important to understand that the resulting damage is covered, but the initial problem is not. So your insurance company wouldn’t pay to fix your washing machine or replace the damaged hose, but it would pay to replace carpet and other items ruined as a result.
Coverage for Personal Items
Most insurance companies will pay the full amount for water damage restoration services to repair or replace structural damage, such as damaged floors or walls. However, your personal items may be covered only up to the amount that they’re worth at the time. If your TV is ruined, you may only receive a small amount if it is several years old. Replacement Value Coverage is more expensive to buy, but it pays what it will actually cost you to replace these items brand new.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
It would be well worth your time to call your insurance agent and discuss any exclusions and limitations that your policy may have in terms of water damage restoration. The particulars of each policy can vary, so it’s important to not be surprised by what yours does or does not cover. Your agent can help you weigh the need versus the cost associated with additional coverage.
If you’ve already suffered a water-related loss, your agent can talk with you about your current coverage for water damage restoration and any coverage you may want to add in the future. PuroClean Restoration Specialists can help work with you and your insurer to make sure your home is restored to its prior condition as quickly and smoothly as possible.