Water Damage Claim 101: What You Need to Know
Flood or any water-related incidents can be life-threatening and extremely damaging to properties and it all can happen in just a short span of time. While filing a water damage claim is the most cost-efficient thing to do during this event, your likelihood to be granted or denied of the claim by your insurance policy provider still depends on essential factors like the type and cause of the damage, and the type of insurance policy you are subscribed to. To understand better, let us tackle these factors below:
Water Damage Claim – Flood Damage vs. Water Damage
One of the important factors that determine how much water damage claim a policyholder is entitled to is the cause of water damage, i.e. whether it is caused by flood or not. In the vocabulary of insurances, flood damage and water damage are two completely different things.
Flood damage is any damage caused by natural disasters like typhoons, tsunamis, and heavy rains that can potentially lead to flooding. This particular damage is not covered in basic property insurance policies but may be availed through a separate policy. In most cases, the National Flood Insurance Program or NFIP covers most people’s flood damages.
Water damage, on the other hand, is one that arises from a sudden leakage caused by broken appliances, damaged plumbing, and even leaking walls and roofs or winter ice. This type of damage is usually entitled to a water damage claim. However, the damages covered may be limited only to the interior if the leakage is caused by direct damage to the building, causing an opening.
Water Damage Claim – Gradual vs. Sudden
In insurance policies, they classify damages as gradual (chronic) or sudden (accidental). The damage is to be categorized as gradual if the policyholder has ignored the damage resulting in gradual seepage of water through time and such negligence has led to a bigger property damage. For the most part, gradual damages caused by negligence are not covered in insurance policies. This leaves property owners having to do the fixing at their own expense. On that note, property owners are given the strict responsibility to monitor and carry out minor repairs as necessary, immediately. Otherwise, this may strongly block any supposed water damage claim.
Meanwhile, sudden water damage is when a sudden, non-flood related damage takes place, usually accidentally, e.g. when an HVAC or washing machine’s hose breaks and causes considerable water leakage. While most insurance companies provide coverage for sudden damages, this comes with a limitation. Those damages incurred from leakage flowing over the ground into the building, and water backup through sewers or drains are usually not covered.
The Consequence of Negligence
People who got no time to monitor their properties but ended up suffering from water damage would usually have to go through an agonizing process to have their insurance claim approved. Take Gina’s experience (an alias) for example:
Gina and her family left for a week-long vacation on a neighboring island, turning their house’s circuit off for safety purposes. While the whole family was away, the temperature at her house went beyond the freezing point. Consequently, their pipes froze and eventually broke. After a week, Gina and her family came home to an unfortunate scene. She then tried to make a damage claim but was later denied of it because of negligence, i.e. she was unable to ensure enough heat for her plumbing system to stay in place.
Gina’s case is not common. As a property or homeowner, it is thus vital to keep your appliances, equipment, ventilating systems, and the entire property properly maintained to avoid water damages. This includes ensuring the upkeep of appliance hoses, water heaters, heating equipment, HVAC drain lines, faucets and pipes, showers, tubs, sinks, and toilets, and even windows and doors, roofs, rain gutters, and downspouts.
How to Strengthen Your Water Damage Claim?
Nowadays, it is a lot wiser to put your insecurity aside and just seek help from someone who can help you increase your chances for a water damage claim. Hiring them may come with a cost but getting the claim less their fee is still better than getting none at all. Fortunately, there are professionals who are experts at this thing. We call them public adjusters.
Public adjusters are classified into three types: Company, Independent, and Public. Let us take a look at them one by one…
1. Company Adjuster. They are usually known as the “insurance adjuster”, hired by insurance companies.
2. Independent Adjuster. These people still work for insurance companies but are independent agents and can work from one insurance company to another at a time.
3. Public Adjuster. Among the three, public adjusters are only the ones that you can trust fully as their loyalty goes to the policyholders. On that note, there will be zero problems arising from conflict of interest and advocacy.
How Water Damage Claim Works
There are a variety of incidence and reasons for water damage that might entitle you for a water damage claim. Your most vital responsibility, however, to strengthen your claim is to dry out the area where water damage is present as soon as possible. Bear in mind these steps below:
1. Call an emergency restoration provider to fast track the drying-out task.
2. Be transparent; report the incident to your insurance company right there and then.
3. Call your trusted public adjuster for an immediate but reliable damage assessment. You can entrust the job to your policy provider’s internal insurance adjuster or you can hire an external public adjuster to ensure a non-bias assessment.
4. Once the assessment is done, have it submitted to your policy provider and wait for its approval (or rejection).
5. Cost-estimate the repair needed.
6. Process the insurance payout application. Your policy provider may agree to grand the claim but more often than not, both parties will have to agree on the total cost to be granted.
7. Have your chosen contractor start the damage-fixing in light of what is indicated in your insurance policy.
8. Do not throw any receipts away. And once the repair is all done, make sure to document it to fast track your water damage claim process.