Most homeowners assume that the majority of homeowner insurance claims is the result of things like tornadoes, severe windstorms, lightning strikes, and fire. In reality, one of the largest categories of reported claims happens to be water damage. In fact, water damage claims amount to over 25% of insurance claims nationally. That’s a lot of damage and a lot of money for repairs. We’re not talking flood damage; we’re talking primarily, damage from water leaks.
Water Leaks and Damage
Reports from the American Insurance Association indicate from 2007 to 2009, water leaks in homes resulted in losses to property of about $9 billion. This $9 billion dollars of leaks were primarily caused by plumbing failures and freezing pipes. More importantly, this number continues to increase year after year and represents the fastest growing category of claims.
Repairing the damage from a leaking pipe is costly and time-consuming. When a pipe in your wall begins to leak, especially in a significant manner, it can wreak havoc on your drywall, wallpaper, floor covering, furniture and any other precious belongings that may be on or near the leak.
Important Steps to Take
It’s important, when you discover water damage, to take certain steps so that your claim doesn’t result in a nightmare.
- Mitigate – Mitigation means to try and stop things from getting worse. When you discover that you have a pipe spurting out water, turn the water supply off!
- Record – Your next step is to start getting stuff that may become damaged away from the water. However, before you do, take pictures or video the damaged area and include your household belongings in the video. More about this later.
- Report – Call your public adjuster and make them your first point of contact. The public adjuster will help you understand the details of the claim process and then report your claim to the insurance company on your behalf. In almost every case, your public adjuster will visit your location to review the damages before the insurance company’s adjuster arrives to inspect for damages.
- Restore – Most water claims require a restoration service to dry out your home. If your insurer offers a referral, call that company, if not, find a reputable company online or in the phone directory. Once you have arranged for a service to come to your home, start taking photos or video of the damaged area and your belongings. Remember to look down. Floor coverings like carpet and vinyl will typically need to be replaced after getting and staying wet for a long period of time.
- Receive – Typically, when the adjuster comes out to inspect for damage, they will contact the restoration company to confirm the damages and compare notes to arrive at a settlement. Your photos or video may be necessary as proof of damages that the adjuster may have missed. If everything moves along as it should, the insurance company will either send you a check for the repairs minus your deductible or send the restoration service a check minus the deductible and then invoice you for the balance.
If after the claims process has concluded, and you are not satisfied with the amount paid for your damage, by all means, contact a reputable Public Adjuster in your area so that you will have an experienced advocate to fight for you.