Do you dread the thought of your property suffering damage, whether it be your home, personal property, or business? That is your instinct as a property owner to protect your valuable assets. However, it doesn’t have to keep you awake at night.
Indeed, life can throw unexpected curveballs your way, but it’s comforting to know that you can rely on your insurance policy to protect you against devastating events. This is where knowing how to deal with property damage claims becomes crucial.
In this article, we’ll discuss its common types, the factors that can affect your claim, and empower you with the knowledge you need to confidently navigate the process.
Common Types of Property Damage Claims
Here are the most common types of property damage claims that policyholders file:
Earthquake and Natural Disaster Claims
An earthquake, in itself, is not dangerous. However, the effects that it can generate on the surrounding environment can be catastrophic. You can endure infrastructural damage, such as:
- Collapsed buildings
- Damaged walls
- Fallen furniture or objects
- Shattered glass
- Heavy debris
Additionally, houses built of unreinforced masonry, which includes bricks, hollow clay tiles, concrete blocks or adobe, are more likely to sustain damage. Earthquakes can also cause electricity poles to fall and live wires to become exposed or to start fires.
In fact, a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey and FEMA estimates that earthquake damage costs the United States $14.7 billion annually.
Earthquake insurance then serves to lessen the costs and other liabilities that stem from the shaking and cracking that can destroy buildings and personal possessions.
Standard home and business insurance policies provide coverage for other kinds of damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage due to burst gas and water pipes.
As for other natural disasters, in 2023, there were 25 confirmed weather or climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each that affected the United States.
Essentially, earthquake and natural disaster claims can be fairly complicated due to the secondary damage that they can generate. To ensure a successful outcome, it’s important to seek professional help before you file a claim with your insurance provider.
Fire Damage Claims
In 2022, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) said that local fire departments responded to an estimated 1.5 million fires in the United States. These fires caused almost 4,000 civilian fire deaths, and around 13,000 reported civilian fire injuries.
Meanwhile, the property damage caused by these fires was estimated at $18 billion. This is where your insurance provider should swoop in to give you security, but sometimes, they don’t.
A fire can originate at virtually any time due to a variety of causes, including cooking, electrical issues, unattended cigarettes, candles, and even a lightning strike.
Once a fire starts, it spreads quickly through your property, causing significant and irreversible damage to your furnishings and belongings. Moreover, the water and chemicals used to put out the flames can also result in substantial damage even when the fire is contained.
The damage from a fire doesn’t end when the fire is put out. Smoke, soot, and other corrosive byproducts created by the fire will continue to spread. These materials burn, etch, and tarnish affected surfaces and objects.
If you’re currently recovering from a fire and are overwhelmed with the extent of the repair costs, you should file a claim with your insurance company immediately. You’d need all the help you can get for your recovery.
Theft and Vandalism Claims
Your homeowners insurance will likely cover stolen personal property, and also pay for problems related to a theft, like the cost to repair or replace items that were damaged in a break-in.
Forbes Advisor listed the common coverage types that might apply if you’re the victim of a break-in and theft:
- Dwelling coverage: This pays for repairs to your house if it is damaged in a break-in. For example, it can pay for broken windows and damaged doors.
- Personal property coverage: This pays to repair or replace your personal belongings if they are damaged or stolen. For example, if a thief knocks over an expensive lamp or steals your laptop.
- Other structures coverage: This pays for repairs to detached structures on your property. For example, if your shed door is damaged in a break-in.
Meanwhile, for vandalism claims, there are a variety of factors that insurance companies keep in mind as they assess your vandalism insurance claims, such as:
- The state of the property before the vandalism
- Whether the location was vacant at the time
- Whether you can prove ownership of the items through inventory or photos
If someone steals or defaces your property, the last thing you should have to worry about is your insurance company. Apart from knowing how to file a proper claim, you should also discuss the criminal lawsuit you can pursue with your legal representative.
Water Damage Claims
Water damage in your property can lead to extreme consequences, including uncontrolled mold growth, a weakened building structure, foundation issues, severe health effects, and ultimately, very high water damage repair and restoration costs.
Additionally, if you delay the repair of the water damage that was done to your property, it can cause a very dangerous safety risk as it can create an electrical hazard. The more time that you spend waiting to address these concerns can also severely affect the valuation of your property.
Aside from catastrophic water and flood events like a flooding basement, tropical storm, or burst pipes, water damage can also result from unnoticed or unresolved property issues, such as:
- Continuously running toilets
- Cracks in water pipes
- Discharge from dishwashers
- Leaks between pipe connections
- Leaky faucets
- Sewage spills
- Water heater failures
It’s important to act swiftly when you’ve determined water damage in your home or building. Contact an experienced insurance lawyer so they can assist you in promptly filing your claim.
Wind and Storm Damage Claims
Every year, one in 35 insured homes has a wind or storm damage insurance claim. On the other hand, lightning strikes resulted in $1.3 billion worth of homeowners’ insurance claim payouts across the country.
These natural phenomena can wreak havoc on properties, causing structural damage, roof issues, and more. The common types of wind and storm damage claims include:
- Frozen pipes
- Fallen trees
- Hail damage
- Power outages
- Sewer backups
- Shattered windows
- Water damage
Since the sources of the damage can overlap during an intense storm, the success of your claim can depend on the strength of your evidence in relation to your policy. It’s best to seek the help of a seasoned attorney so they can guide you through the process.
How Much Is My Property Damage Claim Worth?
Every loss or recovery path is different for each policyholder. There’s no singular amount or range that can be squarely identified with how much your property damage claim is worth. However, it can be influenced by a variety of factors, including:
- Additional living expenses
- Business losses, if applicable
- Lost income or wages
- Medical bills
- Professional services
- Rehabilitation bills
- Replacement costs
- Restoration costs
- Temporary accommodations
- Total repair costs
Tips for Filing Property Damage Claims
The first rule after dealing with damaged property is to maintain your presence of mind. As overwhelming as the situation is, you should approach it with a tenacious yet calm spirit. Here are some crucial things that you should do in the aftermath:
Ensure Your Own Safety First
When dealing with property damage, no matter what type it is, you should first assess your own safety and your loved ones before you further inspect the damage. If you’re unable or if the property is inaccessible, contact local authorities or a professional inspector.
Contact Your Agent Or Insurance Company Immediately
Whether you like it or not, the clock is ticking with regard to your claim. Remember that you only have a specific period to file it, and it’s expressly stated in your policy.
Thus, you must contact your agent or your insurance company’s hotline as soon as possible. Ask all the important questions, such as:
- Is the damage covered under the terms of my policy?
- How long do I have to file a claim?
- Does my claim exceed the deductible (the amount of loss you agree to pay before insurance steps in)?
- How long will it take to process my claim?
- Do I need to get the estimates for repairs?
Communicate effectively with your insurance provider and keep a detailed record of your correspondence with them. A paper trail is necessary so you can track the progress of your case.
Repair What You Can, Don’t Delay
You should do what you can to protect your property from further damage. If you spent some money on initial repairs, save receipts for what you spent and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.
Payments for temporary repairs are part of the total settlement, so if you pay a contractor a large sum, you may not have enough money for permanent repairs. Be careful not to make any extensive permanent renovation until the claims adjuster has assessed the damage.
Could A Property Damage Lawyer Help Me With My Claim?
Hiring a property damage lawyer will be instrumental to your claim because:
- An attorney can comprehensively review your insurance policy to understand the coverage for its inclusions and exclusions;
- They can properly suggest property repairs or temporary accommodations that fall under your policy’s limit;
- They can collaborate with appraisers and professional contractors to assess the extent of your property’s damage and examine damaged personal belongings;
- They can independently investigate the incident to identify contributing factors, gather evidence, and determine potential liabilities or incidental losses;
- They can prepare the essential documentation, including incident reports, witness statements, expert submissions, and insurance forms;
- They can negotiate on your behalf to ensure that you get the maximum settlement value;
- They can represent you in court if your insurance company unreasonably denies your claim or if your provider is in bad faith.
Hire Desai Law
An insurance policy is meant to be your safety net in times of crisis. However, there can be times when providers will do everything they can to avoid tapping into their reserves and paying out claims.
It’s incredibly frustrating when you diligently pay your premiums and faithfully follow the terms of your policy, only to find yourself grappling with unmet obligations.
At Desai Law, we understand the urgency of fighting for your property damage claims. In our long years of practice, we have fiercely defended our clients’ cause against greedy corporations.
We’ll be with you every step of the way until you get what you deserve. Call (304) 974-1974 now for a free consultation.