Water Damage Insurance Adjuster and Water Damage Insurance Claims
Water damage is one of the most common types of damage your home and belongings can suffer. Water causes billions of dollars of damage and destruction every year. It is important to know what types of water damage your homeowner’s insurance policy covers and how to maximize your water damage claim if it happens to you.
What kind of water damage does home insurance cover?
Most homeowners insurance policies will cover water damage to your home as long as the cause of the damage is sudden and accidental. A good rule of thumb is that water coming from the top down will be covered under a typical homeowners insurance policy, while water coming from the bottom up would fall under the purview of a flood insurance policy instead. Also, damage that is the result of negligence or lack of maintenance will not be covered.
Water Damage Covered By Homeowners Insurance
- Leaking roof
- Rain or snowstorms
- Burst pipes, frozen pipes, faulty plumbing
- Accidental overflow of an appliance or fixture (bathtub, toilet, washing machine)
- Water damage as a result of extinguishing a fire
- Mold (as long as the cause is a type of water damage that is covered)
Water Damage NOT Covered By Homeowners Insurance
- Lack of maintenance
- Water or sewer pipe backups
- Ground seepage
How can I maximize my water damage claim?
It’s easy to assume that your purchase of homeowners insurance will cover any and all damage caused by water to your home, but unfortunately, that may not be the case. Your insurance company would prefer to keep more of their profits by denying or minimizing your claim, so there are some important things to know if your home has suffered water damage.
First, you should immediately do whatever you can to stop or limit the damage once you are aware of it. If you don’t do this, your insurance company may deny some or all of your claim, since you caused additional damage by not addressing the problem. This means you should turn off the water supply if you have a leaking appliance, or cover your roof with a tarp if it’s leaking.
Second, gather and preserve evidence of the damage. Don’t throw away any water-damaged items until the insurance adjuster has seen them. Take photos and videos if possible of any damage you find and the cause of the damage. Make a detailed list of all of your damaged property, including the brand name, value, and replacement cost if you can. Keep receipts for any emergency repairs you had done.
Third, report your damage to your insurance company promptly. You want to take this step as soon as possible after you discover damage, to prevent your insurance company from denying your claim for not notifying them soon enough. Even if you’re not sure if your water damage is covered under your policy, or if you think the repairs are simple enough to do yourself, you should notify the insurance company to prevent problems later.
Finally, consider hiring a public adjuster to get the most out of your water damage claim. Remember that your insurance company’s focus is to make money, so they don’t want to pay for your claims if they don’t have to. A public adjuster will help fight to maximize the payout on your claim.
What should you not say to an insurance adjuster?
It is important to remain calm when speaking with your insurance company and any of their representatives, including the insurance adjuster assigned to your case. In the case of a claim for water damage, it is very important that you not say that your house has been “flooded.” Remember that flood insurance is a separate thing entirely from water damage, and you don’t want to give your insurance company any excuse to deny your claim, so don’t say it’s a flood if it wasn’t a flood. Be specific about what problem you’re having, and say something like “I have a burst pipe” or “I have standing water” instead.
How can you prove water damage?
In order to make the process of your insurance claim for water damage go smoothly, it is essential that you gather as much proof and evidence as possible. You will want to take pictures and videos of any of your property that was damaged, as well as of anything that appears to be the cause of the problem. For example, if you have a burst pipe or a cracked appliance hose, you should take care to preserve these items as they are to use as proof for your insurance adjuster. Don’t throw away any damaged or broken items. It can also be helpful to have older photos of your undamaged house and property for comparison purposes.
How can you prevent water damage?
Proper maintenance of your home is the best way to prevent water damage. Although there are many situations that are out of your control, there are things you can do to mitigate or prevent damage from occurring.
Repair and Protect the Exterior of Your Home
- Inspect your roof for missing or damaged shingles.
- Caulk and seal windows.
- Check sprinklers and irrigation systems to make sure they are not damaging the walls or foundation of your house. Drain outside faucets to avoid frozen pipes.
- Clear downspouts and rain gutters of debris. Make sure downspouts direct water away from the house.
- Install gutter guards to prevent clogs and keep water from collecting on the roof.
Maintain Plumbing Systems
- Know the location of the main water shut-off valve.
- Inspect appliance hoses and faucets for leaks or damage, and replace them regularly.
- Inspect showers and tubs for leaks. Re-caulk if necessary.
- Inspect plumbing and heating pipes for leaks or cracks.
- If you’re going to be out of the house for an extended period of time, turn off the water supply to the washing machine.
- Don’t leave the house while the washing machine or dishwasher is running.
- Install an emergency pressure release valve to prevent burst frozen pipes.
Prevent Basement Flooding
- Make sure water drains away from the house.
- Reseal the basement with water sealant if you notice water seepage after heavy rain.
- Install a backwater valve, which prevents sewage from backing up into your home.
Protect Your Belongings From Water Damage
- Keep items in the basement on shelves so they stay off the floor.
- Don’t store valuables where there is a risk of water damage.
- Store belongings in the basement or attic in waterproof bins.
- Keep a home inventory of your possessions, and keep it updated.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will insurance cover my water damage?
Yes, as long as the cause was sudden and accidental, like a burst pipe or a leaking roof after a rainstorm. Damage from floods needs to be covered under flood insurance, and damage due to an ongoing problem, such as a leaking faucet that you’ve failed to fix, won’t be covered.
What should I do after a water leak?
Do whatever you can to minimize the damage, such as turning off water supplies and removing vulnerable items from the area. Take photos or videos of the damage, don’t throw anything away, and contact your insurance company to start a claim as soon as possible.
What kinds of problems can water damage cause?
Water damage may cause destruction of your personal belongings, your home’s structure can be compromised, and building materials may be damaged. Carpets, paint, and wood flooring can be severely damaged by too much water. Mold can also be a big problem if your home is not dried out and treated properly.
How can I prevent water damage?
The most effective way to prevent water damage is to keep up with proper maintenance of your home and appliances. Inspect pipes and hoses for leaks or cracks, and replace them regularly. Make sure water doesn’t flow toward your foundation or walls. Investigate any sudden increases in your water bill. Know where the water supply shutoff valve is located in case you need to quickly stop flowing or leaking water.