Water can cause thousands of dollars of damage to your home. In some cases, water leaks slowly and the damage it causes is not seen right away. In other cases, water leaks quickly causing damage immediately. When water leaks quickly, the damage is exacerbated if the homeowner is not home when the leak starts. Whether a quick leak or a slow leak, non-weather related water damage claims make up 19 percent of all homeowner's insurance claims. In 2017, the insurance industry paid out $13 billion for water damage with the average claim costing $10,000.00.
Does your homeowner's insurance cover water damage?
Yes, homeowner's insurance generally covers damage to your home from water. However, homeowner's insurance policies in recent years have attempted to limit their financial exposure to water damage claims by issuing endorsements to existing policies. An endorsement is a change that the insurance company makes to the policy that can limit the amount they have to pay as a result of damages to a house.
Many insurance companies have tried to cap their water damage exposure by issuing $10,000.00 water damage limit endorsements. Then, when an insured has a water damage claim exceeding $10,000.00, the insurance company denies coverage for any amount greater than $10,000.00.
Can your homeowner's insurance limit water damage to $10,000.00?
Yes, BUT there are ways to obtain additional amounts from your homeowner's insurance. As described above, insurance companies have used endorsements to cap your recovery on water damage, but there may be ways around this. For instance, water damage can lead to mold damage, especially in Florida with all the heat and humidity. Most insurance policies have separate coverage for mold damage. An experienced property damage lawyer can help guide you through the complex exclusions and endorsements on your homeowner's insurance policy.
Should you hire a property damage lawyer for your water damage claim?
Yes. Insurance policies are not written to be understood by the normal homeowner. They are extremely lengthy and complex, and they are written to limit the financial exposure of the insurance company. These polices are riddled with pitfalls and defenses for the insurance companies. Insurance companies spend years and hundreds of thousands of dollars on their attorneys to carefully craft these policies. You cannot afford not to have a lawyer represent your interests. The difference that a lawyer can make representing you can be the difference of thousands of dollars.
What types of water damage claims are there?
There are nearly hundreds of types of water damage for which insurance claims can be submitted. Some of the more common types of water damage claim can include:
- Leaking or busted pipes behind the walls
- Leaking or broken toilets
- Leaking or broken water supply lines to refrigerators, sink faucets, toilets and washing machines
- Roof leaks leading to water damage
- Drain leaks in showers, sinks and bathtubs
- Water heater leaks
- Water damage as a result of sump pump failure
- Dishwasher leaks
- Air conditioner backups when the drain pan overflows
All the above listed types of water damage can be claim and pursued through your homeowner's insurance policy.
How much is your water damage claim worth?
It depends on several factors, including the extent of the property in your home that is damaged. For example, if a kitchen sink leak caused a kitchen cabinet to be replaced, the entire kitchen may need to be replaced as you will have to replace all the cabinets to get them to match, and the counter tops will have to be replaced to access and replace the cabinets. The cost of an entire kitchen is significantly more expensive than the replacement cost of one cabinet.
Similarly, if part of a floor needs to be replaced as a result of water damage, the entire floor may need to be replaced if the same materials as the original flooring cannot be purchased. This drastically changes the difference in the value of the water damage claim. At Keller Melchiorre & Walsh, we know how to maximize the value of your claim so that you can have your house restored to its original condition.
Does water damage include flood water damage?
No, damage as a result of flooding is not considered the same as other water damage. Flood damage is specifically excluded from a homeowner's insurance policy. It is only included if the homeowner buys a special rider for flood insurance. If you live in a flood zone or near a body of water, you should be sure to purchase flood insurance.
What should you do after your house has water damage?
If it is safe, address the underlying problem causing the water damage. This includes calling a plumber if necessary. It is okay clean up excess water if it is safe. Do not clean up the water if it is not safe (i.e. sewage water). Call us at Keller Melchiorre & Walsh, as we regularly work with water damage restoration professionals and have them come out to your house and begin the cleanup process. The professionals will make certain that any leak is stopped. The professionals will also bring large professional fans and dehumidifiers to get out any excess water and moisture.
Take pictures of any water damage in the house along with any damaged personal property. Create an inventory of your damaged personal property that includes the date that it was purchased, where you purchased it, and the amount that you paid for it.
Call us at Keller Melchiorre & Walsh so that we can help you start the claims process. The process takes time, and the sooner that you start the process the sooner we will be able to resolve your claim. This includes the filing of a lawsuit if it is necessary to get the fair valuation of your claim.
How does your deductible work with a water damage claim?
Your claim will be evaluated and settled for a certain amount. The insurance company will then issue you a check in the amount of the claim less any deductible on your policy. A check in this amount will then be tendered to you.
Let us help guide you through this difficult process. Do not got at it alone, we are a phone call away. At Keller Melchiorre & Walsh, our passion is helping people in need.