There are a variety of reasons why you might need to file a claim with your home insurance company, and one example is water damage. Water damage claims are incredibly common, but water damage can be a challenge to prove.
If you cannot prove the water damage is covered under your policy, you might have a difficult time convincing the insurance company to cover your claim. For example, flood damage is almost never covered by your home insurance company, and if your home was damaged in a flood, you will need to file a separate claim under your flood insurance policy, if you have one.
In addition, if you have water damage in your home because you neglected routine maintenance to your plumbing system, your home insurance company might refuse to honor it.
What do you need to do to get your water damage claim paid out?
File a Water Damage Claim Under Your Homeowners Insurance Policy
When you file a water damage claim under your home insurance policy, there are a few steps you need to go through.
1. Find the Source of the Damage and Stop It
Before you reach out to your home insurance company, the first thing you need to do is stop the source of the water damage. There are a few places the water damage might be coming from.
- Potentially there is a window leaking from a storm
- Perhaps a pipe burst in your basement
- Or perhaps it is just a slow leak
- Maybe the river near your house flooded
Once your figure out where the water is coming from, you need to take steps to stop the damage. For example, you might want to shut off the water supply to your house.
Do not forget to take some photos and videos. You need evidence to support your claim if your insurance company is hesitant to cover the damage.
Remember that if you take a look at the products from DROP, you can take advantage of products that include automatic shutoff if a leak is detected. That way, you can stop the flow of water before it causes too much damage to your home. You can also add leak detectors for further coverage.
2. Check The Policy With Your Home Insurance Company Before Filing an Insurance Claim With Your Insurance Agent
Once you have figured out where the water is coming from, you can take a look at your policy to see if the damage is covered. A few key points to keep in mind include:
What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
- A pipe that has burst in your home
- An appliance that overflows, such as a dishwasher or laundry machine
- A home with central heating that has a frozen pipe
- Frozen snow or ice that comes into your home from a collapsed roof
- Water damage from the water used to put out a fire
What Does Homeowners Insurance Not Cover?
- A flood coming from groundwater that has overflowed
- Water damage that was neglected and got worse over time
- Water damage stemming from a lack of repairs or maintenance
- A sump pump that has backed up into your home
- A pipe that burst in a home that does not have central heat
All insurance claims are different, so understand what water damage insurance claims your policy will cover. Remember that you might need to purchase flood insurance to cover some forms of water damage.
If you are not sure if something is covered, call your insurance company to ask. They should be able to clarify the coverage on your policy with you, and you can decide if you want to file a claim.
3. Review Your Flood Insurance Policy
If you do not think your home insurance company’s policy will cover your water damage, you need to review your flood insurance policy, if you have one. If your house is located in a flood plain, your mortgage company should require you to carry flood insurance. Therefore, you should have one.
There is a good chance that your flood insurance policy will cover your water damage if your typical home insurance policy does not, but you need to see if the flood insurance policy is held by a different company. You might need to file a claim with a different company to get your flood damage covered.
4. Call Your Insurance Company
If you decide to move forward with a claim, you need to notify your insurance company right away. You need to get the ball rolling as soon as possible because you do not want your insurance company to accuse you of delaying the repair process and allowing the damage to get worse.
Be sure you have your evidence to send to the insurance company. This includes photos and videos of the damage as well as proof of where the damage came from. The source of the water damage will play a major role in whether the water damage is covered.
5. Review the Different Areas of Compensation in Your Insurance Policy
You need to make sure that all damages covered under your policy are awarded to you. There are different types of damage that could be covered. They include:
- Dwelling: You should have dwelling coverage, as this is the most basic type of coverage under your insurance policy. If you need to repair your walls and floors, this is where that coverage should be found.
- Loss of Use: If you need to be relocated to a hotel or apartment while your home is repaired, this coverage section should pay for those expenses.
- Other Structures: You might also have a section for other structures. If a pipe bursts in your guest house or pool house, or if you have a detached garage that was damaged, this section should cover those repairs.
- Personal Property: If you have personal belongings in your home that were damaged, they can be repaired or replaced with this section of your policy. This could include clothes, furniture, electronics, and appliances.
If you plan on filing a claim for personal property, you will need to have an inventory list available. You might even want to have pictures that can serve as proof of your ownership.
5. Consider Hiring a Contractor To Help You
If the damage to your house was particularly severe, the insurance company might send out an adjuster to review the damage and provide you with an estimate. You do not want the insurance company to give you a low offer, so you might want to consider hiring a licensed contractor.
The contractor can review the damage to your house and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. This can save you time and stress while also giving you more evidence you can use to support the size of your claim.
What If the Insurance Company Refuses To Honor Your Claim?
If the insurance company refuses to honor your claim, there are a few options available. You could try reaching out to a public adjuster, who should have your best interests in mind. A public adjuster can review the damage, tell you if the damage should be covered, and then negotiate with the insurance company for you. You might have to pay the public adjuster to help you, so you need to see if there is worth it. They often take a percentage of your settlement’s actual cash value as compensation.
You could also consider reaching out to an attorney who could take your case to court, but keep in mind that this can take a while. You probably want to get the repair process started as soon as possible, so think about whether this is worth your time.
Consider Looking for Extra Coverage and Discounts
Water damage can be notoriously difficult to cover. That is why you should always make sure you have enough coverage. You might want to get water backup coverage, which could provide you with some protection against damage due to sewage or sump pump problems.
You should also consider getting flood insurance coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program. You might be required to have a separate flood insurance policy by your mortgage company, but even if it is not required, you should consider getting it. It can protect you from water damage due to hurricanes and high tides.
Do not forget that you can also qualify for discounts on home insurance with the right products. If you install water products from DROP with automatic shutoff valves, you could ask for a discount on your home insurance.