Water damage can cause significant harm to your home and personal property, and it is essential to understand the coverage provided by your homeowners insurance policy. In 2020, water damage accounted for approximately 20% of insurance losses, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Here’s what you need to know about filing a water damage insurance claim.
What type of water damage does homeowners insurance company cover?
Typically, sudden or accidental damage caused by storms is covered under standard homeowners insurance policies.
Examples of insurance coverage include:
- Structural damage to the home’s foundation, walls, or floors
- Damage to personal property, such as furniture, electronics, or clothing
- Mold growth as a result of the water damage
- Water damage to electrical systems or appliances in the home
- Restoration and cleanup costs, including the cost of hiring professionals to repair the damage
- Temporary housing costs if the home is uninhabitable during repairs
- Medical expenses for any injuries sustained during the water damage event
- Business interruption losses if the water damage occurred in a home-based business
- Loss of income if the homeowner has to take time off work to deal with the water damage and repairs
- Additional living expenses if the homeowner has to temporarily relocate while repairs are being made.
- Damage to carpets, rugs, and other flooring materials
- Loss of sentimental or irreplaceable items, such as family photos or heirlooms
- Restoration of important documents or paperwork that were damaged by water
- Cost of hiring a professional cleaning company to sanitize the home and prevent mold growth
- Loss of business inventory or equipment in a commercial property
- Water damage to landscaping or outdoor structures, such as decks or patios
- Cost of removing debris and damaged materials from the home or property.
However, it’s important to note that not all policies cover sewer and drain backups, and this may require purchasing an additional insurance rider.
Buy Separate Flood Insurance Policy
If you live in an area prone to flood damage and your home insurance policy doesn’t cover it, it’s important to consider purchasing a separate flood insurance policy.
Research and evaluate the flood risk in your location. Check flood maps, historical data, and consult local authorities or insurance professionals to determine the likelihood and severity of flood events in your area.
Numerous home insurance companies collaborate with the NFIP to provide flood insurance. To locate a company in your state that offers flood coverage, you can utilize the flood insurance provider tool provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The rates for NFIP-sponsored policies remain the same regardless of the carrier assisting you throughout the process. However, if you wish to explore rates different from those offered by the NFIP, obtaining quotes from private flood insurers is necessary.
These private insurers underwrite their own flood policies, and working with an independent insurance agent can be beneficial in obtaining quotes from them. Independent agents often have access to specialty carriers that provide private flood insurance policies.
Dwelling coverage vs. personal property coverage
Home insurance policies provide various types of coverage, and if a peril damages the structure of your home, it falls under dwelling coverage. Detached structures like garages, sheds, and fences are also covered under most policies.
Damage to items such as clothing, furniture, and other personal possessions falls under personal property coverage. Generally, insurance policies provide 50% to 70% of your home’s total coverage for personal property damaged by water or other eligible perils.
What type of water damage is not covered?
Standard insurance policies do not cover all types of water damage. Cover flooding damage from floodwater is not covered under most policies, but you can purchase separate flood insurance from a private insurer or the National Flood Insurance Program.
Additionally, policies do not cover damage due to negligence, lack of maintenance, repairing or replacing the source of the water damage, sewer backup, or mold, unless it’s the result of a covered peril.
How to file a water damage insurance claims
Before filing a claim, review your policy to determine the deductible, which is an out-of-pocket expense for which you’re responsible. The cost to repair water damage to your home can vary depending on the severity of the damage, and it may not be worth filing a claim if the damage is minor or if you have a high deductible.
To file a claim, contact your insurance carrier and inform them of the incident. Fill out and submit the claim forms provided by your insurer, and make any necessary temporary repairs to prevent further damage. Provide documentation of any damages to your home and personal property, and wait for the insurance adjuster and final approval.
Once approved, make repairs using any contractor you want. You can track the progress of your claim through your insurer’s website or mobile app, and they are available to answer any questions throughout the claims process.
Understanding your homeowners insurance policy and taking prompt action to address water damage can help you protect your home and personal property.
It’s important to take immediate action if you experience water damage in your home to prevent further damage and ensure that you are covered by your insurance policy.
Document the damage:
Take photos or videos of the damage and any items that were affected. This will be useful when filing your insurance claim and can help your insurance adjuster assess the damage.
Contact your insurance company:
Call your insurance company as soon as possible to report the damage and begin the claims process. They will guide you through the next steps and tell you what documentation they need from you.
Mitigate further damage:
Take steps to prevent further damage, such as turning off the water supply, placing tarps over damaged areas, or moving valuable items to a safe location.
Follow your insurance company’s instructions
Your insurance company will guide you through the claims process and may send an adjuster to assess the damage. Follow their instructions and provide any documentation they require.
Hire a professional restoration company:
In some cases, it may be necessary to hire a professional restoration company to handle the cleanup and repairs. They can help prevent further damage, remove any standing water, and dry out your home.
Remember, the key to preventing water damage and minimizing its impact is to take action as soon as possible. This includes regular maintenance of your home’s plumbing and drainage systems, and quick action if you detect any signs of water damage. With the right precautions and quick action, you can protect your home and personal property from the damaging effects of water.