Water and flood can cause significant problems in and outside your home. If a homeowner suffer a loss due to water or flood damage, your insurance company should stand by your side to help and guide you through the process of resolving the issue(s). Unfortunately, they often fail by denying your claim. Not only can a provider deny coverage from the outset, the manner in which an insurance provider conducts itself during an initial claim can also lead to even more problems like lowball estimates on the damages and missed damages, which can result in mold or other health related problems down the line.
It takes a great deal of legal understanding and insurance knowledge to effectively argue against a denied claim or an uncooperative insurance company. Lee Jacobson and the attorneys at HHJ have the experience and knowledge to guide you and represent you when it comes to water and flood damage. Even though both seem one and the same, there are critical differences that could mean the difference between outright denial of coverage and full repair.
It is important to differentiate between water and flood damage. In the simplest terms, water damage comes from inside, whereas flood damage comes from outside. The reason for the vigilance in how you report the damage is that your claim could be denied if done so incorrectly. For example, if you report water damage as a flood, there is a good chance the claim could go unpaid. Although this seems to be a silly procedural issue, insurance companies will look for every possible reason not to pay you.
To be more specific concerning the differences between the two, according to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a flood is defined as:
A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two of more acres of normally dry land area or of two of more properties (at least one of which is the policyholder’s property) from one of the following:
Overflow of inland or tidal waters;
Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source;
Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as define above.
A major issue with floods is that the property damage is usually quite significant. The current estimate for 1 inch of water covering 2000 square feet is priced at $21,000. Change that one inch to one foot, and you will be looking at a bill of $52,000. From these numbers it can be stated that, for the price of most premiums, flood damage protection is relatively cheap. Even so, the stated coverage is what should always be expected.
Another important note is that flood protection is almost never offered by homeowners insurance. In fact, flood damage coverage is run the NFIP itself. Most claims will be directly reported to them.
Unlike flood damage, water damage is primarily an indoor issue. This damage can come from many different sources within the home. It can be caused by a pipe leak, washing machine overflow, water heater malfunction, tub overflow, sewer backup, septic tank issues, air conditioner overflow or roof leak.
Considering how thorough and unrelenting policy providers are over water damage, it is important to have a proper appraisal. At Hale, Hale & Jacobson, special appraisers help the process by closely inspecting your property, looking for hidden damage an insurance adjuster may have missed.
This also includes bringing in restoration professionals to assess the cost of the repairs and what will be needed. This is a vital aspect of receiving payment because a third party can keep the insurance company honest while making sure you are given what you deserve.
Water damage can also lead to mold if not taken care of properly. Mold can further damage your property and can potentially cause health problems. Even with the risk involved, many insurance companies do not include mold damage. If your attorney can argue that the mold damage or related issues were caused by a covered peril, you may be eligible for compensation.
Water or Flood Damage Claims Tips
When water or flood damage occurs, it is important to take the following basic steps:
Review your policy to make sure you understand what losses are covered and what losses are excluded by your policy.
Take pictures or videotape the damaged area and any damaged property before you make any repairs. This is important because it can help you document your losses, especially if you clean up or make any repairs before your insurance adjuster has seen the damage.
Do not throw away removed or damaged materials until your insurance adjuster or attorney has seen them.
Make reasonable and necessary repairs to protect your home and property from further damage. Do not make large structural or permanent repairs until instructed by your attorney or provider.
Document all repair expenses and save all receipts.
Keep an activity log, including all conversations you have had with your insurance provider. Also, retain copies of letters or other documents.