Did you recently suffer damage from a water leak? Water damage is the most common insurance claim in the U.S., and unfortunately, it’s also one of the most expensive.
Water-related insurance claims are reportedly increasing because of two reasons. First, the price of water damage repair has increased, and second, more people live in homes with more appliances that could cause a leak or flood.
In fact, water damage accounts for 24% of all home insurance claims, with the average claim payout being around $13,000. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can efficiently deal with water damage and how you can file a successful water leak claim with your insurance provider.
Understanding Water Leak Insurance Claims
A water leak insurance claim falls under an insurance policy that covers water damage resulting from specific perils or events. This may include a burst pipe, faulty plumbing, or damage from ice dams. If the water leak is a direct result of one of these covered situations, your claim is more likely to be approved.
There are a variety of causes for water leaks, such as frozen pipes, high pressure, corrosion or broken seals, that’s why it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of these leaks so you know if you’re eligible for an insurance claim.
If you suspect that you might be eligible to repair your property damage from a water leak, it’s important to do the following:
- Damp patches on floors or walls, particularly in basements and garages where pipes are often located close to the floor level;
- Listen for sounds emanating from plumbing fixtures, such as running taps or toilets flushing continuously.
Steps to Take for a Successful Water Leak Insurance Claim
After you’ve personally assessed the damage and ensured it was from a water leak, you can then prepare to file an insurance claim. If you’re still in doubt, it’s best to contact a professional handyman or plumber so that you can get an expert opinion.
Review Your Insurance Policy’s Terms
Before you pick up the phone to call your insurance company, you must first take the time to review your insurance policy terms and coverage. Familiarize yourself with the specific details related to water leak incidents, such as coverage limits, deductibles, and any exclusions or limitations.
In doing this, you will be empowered to make informed decisions and ensure you receive the maximum benefits. With a detailed review, you can also be enlightened if the type of water damage you suffered is covered by your homeowners insurance.
What Are The Types Of Water Damage Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
According to Forbes Advisor, water damage that’s considered “sudden and accidental” is covered (like a burst pipe) but not gradual damage, like a leaking bathroom sink. Moreover, flooding, such as damage from storm surges during a hurricane, is not covered.
Water damage covered by homeowners insurance typically includes:
- Accidental leaks, such as leaking plumbing or an appliance leak, like a broken washing machine or dishwasher.
- Burst pipes. This might include a frozen pipe that bursts, but not if you neglect to keep the home properly heated.
- Ice dams, such as ice that builds up in your gutter and damages your home, may be covered as long as the damage was sudden and wasn’t caused by a lack of maintenance.
- Water damage after a fire from water used to extinguish the flames, such as water from a sprinkler system or a hose from the fire department.
- Water damage from a roof leak, such as damage from a storm or a tree that falls on your roof. Keep in mind if an accident (like a fallen tree) damages your roof, you’ll be required to fix the damage in a reasonable amount of time. Failure to do so could result in further water damage that won’t be covered.
- Water damage from storms, such as heavy rain or hail.
Report The Incident Immediately
Once you’re done reviewing your policy and determining which type of policy you can recover from, you can then file a report. Time is of the essence in filing a water leak insurance claim because there are deadlines that you need to meet.
Your insurance company also needs sufficient time to begin its investigation to process your case. Take note of all relevant information, such as the date and time the leak was discovered, the location of the leak, and any visible signs of damage. Remember, the sooner you report the water leak to your insurance company, the sooner they can help you resolve it.
Repair What You Can
After reporting the incident, you should assess the parts that you can repair so you can protect your property from any further damage. This would also show your insurance company that you’re a responsible policy owner by minimizing the extent of your claim.
You can start by shutting off the main water supply. However, if the leak is caused by a burst pipe or plumbing issue, find the shutoff valve and turn it off.
When necessary, contact a professional plumber. You should also manage the affected areas by drying them out and removing valuable items located around them.
Document The Scene And Gather Evidence
Of course, to support your case, you’ll need to have essential documentation and records of the scene and the extent of the damage. This includes photographs, videos, as well as a written inventory of damaged property.
Be thorough and diligent in gathering evidence because this plays a crucial part in either denying or acknowledging your claim. It’s also helpful to take note of the conversations you’ll have with contractors or repair professionals.
Meet With An Insurance Adjuster
You can expect an insurance adjuster to show up at your door after filing a water leak insurance claim. They will be assigned to assess the damage and determine the validity of your case.
Be prepared for this meeting so you can enjoy a smooth and successful claims process. Remember, before the adjuster arrives, you have to review the documentation and evidence you have collected so you can be consistent.
Make sure everything is well-organized and easily accessible. Also, be prepared to answer any questions the adjuster may have regarding the incident, including the cause of the leak, any previous repairs or maintenance, and any steps you have taken to mitigate further damage.
You don’t have to worry as long as you’re open and honest with the adjuster. Keep in mind that their role is to assess the damage objectively, so it’s important to remain calm and cooperative.
Common Challenges In Water Leak Insurance Claims
Sometimes, water leak insurance claims hit a roadblock, and it can be incredibly frustrating when you’re still in the process of repairing and rebuilding your property.
Here are some of the common challenges that policy owners encounter that may lead to their claim’s denial:
- Confusion over the policy’s exclusions and limitations;
- Dealing with delays in the claims process;
- Denial or underpayment of claims;
- Disagreements involving the property’s repairs and replacement costs;
- Disputes over the policy’s overage;
- Failure to perform preventive maintenance;
- Fraudulent practices;
- Inability to distinguish “gradual damage” from “sudden and accidental damage”;
- Inadequate documentation;
- Property owner’s negligence.
Hire A Lawyer for Water Leak Insurance Claims
So many things can go wrong as you try to deal with a water leak insurance claim. It’s a delicate process that requires a comprehensive understanding of your insurance policy’s language, the specifics of the damage, and applicable legal principles.
You may think that you were able to file a solid and airtight case, only to be denied and deprived of rightful compensation over a simple oversight. This is why homeowners will greatly benefit from the hawk-like vision of a lawyer.