Dealing with insurance claims after water damage can be a daunting process for homeowners. It’s crucial to have a basic understanding of how to navigate conversations with insurance adjusters to ensure a fair and smooth resolution.
What To Do First After Water Damage
Rushing to call your insurance company immediately after discovering water damage may not be the best course of action. Instead, start by utilizing a plumber or a leak detection company to diagnose and resolve the leak. This step is essential as it helps prevent further damage and allows you to present a more comprehensive claim to your insurer.
Get Ahead Of Insurance Adjuster:
Once the leak is resolved, your next step is to mitigate the damages. Policyholders are generally required to take necessary steps to minimize the impact of water damage. Contact a reputable water mitigation company to help dry out affected areas and prevent mold growth. Remember, the insurance company won’t clean up the damage for you, so it’s essential to act swiftly to protect your property.
- Document the damage: Take photos and videos of the water damage as evidence for your insurance claim. Keep a detailed record of all the affected areas, including personal belongings or structural damage.
- Contact your insurance company within 24 hours: Report the water damage incident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with all the necessary details, such as the cause of the damage and the extent of the loss.
- Play Dumb During Recorded Statements: When the adjuster requests a recorded statement, they often attempt to pin down specific details and timelines. Say less is more like: “I don’t remember exactly”, “I don’t know”.
- Request Mediation Through the State: Imagine receiving a low-ball offer from an insurance adjuster after experiencing damage worth $15,000. Instead of settling or continuously negotiating. You’ll have the opportunity to pursue mediation through the state, potentially obtaining a fairer settlement.
- Video Document The Inspection: By recording each step, especially areas with visible damage, you can later refer to these recordings if any discrepancies arise. The video evidence can support your claims and hold the adjuster accountable for what they initially acknowledged.
- Make Them Sign Everything: compile a comprehensive list of all damaged items and structural components. After the adjuster has examined everything, ask them to sign the inventory. While they may decline, this tactic puts the onus on the adjuster to cover the listed damages. By obtaining their refusal to sign, you create additional leverage for your claim.
Common Rip-Off Schemes By Insurance Companies:
To ensure you receive fair compensation for your water damage claim, it’s crucial to hire professionals who understand insurance policy language. Long-term leaks, unknown sources of damage, or cases involving excessive communication with the insurer require the expertise of professionals who can navigate the intricacies of policy terms.
When dealing with water damage claims, insurance companies often bring in their own experts, including leak detectors, engineers, and plumbers. It’s important to understand that these experts are not there to advocate for your best interests. They are known as claim denial specialists, and their primary objective is to protect the insurance company’s bottom line. Be wary of what you say and avoid making any statements that could jeopardize your claim.
- Underpaying or denying claims without proper investigation: Some insurance companies may attempt to undervalue or wrongfully deny legitimate claims without conducting a thorough investigation.
- Delaying the claim process: Insurance companies may deliberately delay the claim process to pressure homeowners into accepting lower settlements out of frustration or financial strain.
- Misinterpreting policy terms: Insurance policies can be complex, and companies may intentionally misinterpret policy terms to reduce coverage or deny claims.
- Pressuring homeowners to use preferred contractors: Insurance companies may recommend or pressure homeowners to use their preferred contractors, who may provide subpar workmanship or charge higher rates.
- Requiring unnecessary documentation or repairs: Some insurers may demand excessive documentation or repairs that are unnecessary, causing financial strain on homeowners or contractors.
Questions to Ask the Insurance Adjuster:
When communicating with an insurance adjuster, asking the right questions can help clarify the process and ensure there is no room for misinterpretations. Here are some key questions to consider:
- What is the scope of my coverage for water damage?
- Are there any specific documentation requirements for my claim?
- How long will it take to process my claim?
- Can you explain any policy terms or language that I find unclear?
- Can I choose my own contractor, or am I required to use one from a preferred list?
File Your Claim
Once you have followed the necessary steps and have a strong understanding of your policy coverage, you can file your claim. Keep in mind that a significant number of claims, especially water damage claims, are initially denied or underpaid.