Water damage is one of the most common forms of damage that occurs in residences. Causes of water damage can be anything from weather events, like heavy rains or hurricanes, or to internal problems, like burst pipes.
If you’re one of the many unfortunate homeowners that has experienced residential water damage, you know those fixes are not cheap. You also probably know how difficult and confusing it can be to maneuver through how to get that covered through insurance. Does insurance cover water damage at all? The answer is unfortunately more complicated than a yes or no, and it also can vary state by state.
Fortunately, there are enough resources and people who have gone through this nowadays that there are several ways to understand this process.
Before the Water Damage Insurance Claim
Before diving into insurance for water damage claims, you should first make sure you know how to deal with water damage. It’s vital to first determine the source of the water, and then to stop it flowing to prevent even more damage. Once the source has been cut off, you should next make sure you know precisely everywhere the damage occurred. If you don’t, you may not discover until years later all the sneaky places water can go when there’s a leak. By then, it may be too late.
Water damage is not the type of problem you can take time to really ruminate and think about what to do. Whenever the damage occurs, action to clean or repair it must be taken as soon as possible, or mold, mildew, not to mention further damage will cause more problems.
After assessing the damage, make sure to contact an insurance agent immediately so they can look at your policy, guide you through the claims process, and also advise on clean up/repair. But exactly who repairs water damage? Your insurance will also likely advise you to find a local water damage restoration company.
Whether it’s minor water damage or severe water damage to home, you certainly shouldn’t have to be paying for the full damage repairs. After all, events like burst pipes and unpredictable weather are not your fault. Unfortunately, insurance isn’t that straightforward, and it doesn’t cover every type of water damage. Below is a helpful guide in determining what insurance typically does and does not cover.
Submitting the Insurance Claim
Gradual v Sudden Water Damage
You should know most insurance companies are not going to accept claims for water damage that is a result of gradual problems, like general pipe wear and tear. Typically, insurance covers sudden or accidental events, such as storms or sewer overflow. A burst pipe may or may not fall in this category, depending if they suspect the cause of it was from neglecting routine maintenance. Just make sure you’re painstakingly documenting the source of the water damage, in the event you need to refute it was gradual.
Some companies will also cover the resulting damage repair, like if the damage leads to other issues in the home. Make sure you check the specific wording of your policy to see exactly what is going to be covered. Insurance companies are not in the business of giving out their money once they take it from you, but they are bound by rules just as you are. After the claim is submitted, an adjuster will likely come out to assess the damage for themselves. They will ask questions about the damage, like how and when it occurred. If anyone besides you, like a plumber that installed something wrong, is at fault will also be something they will need to determine.
After that, it can be a few weeks before insurance has to get back to you with what they will cover. In that time, you should be able to get a good estimate on what the repairs will cost, so you will know if their offer is enough or not.
If you feel stuck wondering what to do about water damage, or even want to prepare for the possibility of it happening in the future, the first key thing is to act quickly. Get it cleaned immediately to prevent further damage, and make sure the damage is assessed accurately. Look at the wording of your policy to see what will be covered due to water damage, and have all information accurately documented (pictures, videos, etc) before submitting the claim. Don’t throw anything damaged away yet – it may be important for documentation.
Along with that, make sure you submit the claim in the time window the insurance company sets. The average water damage insurance claim can take between 1 and 2 months. Home restoration after water damage can take even longer, which is why it’s good to get a handle on it sooner rather than later.