Filing a claim for water damage can get complicated pretty quickly. So here are some tips on how to avoid losing money when paying for the repairs on your home.
Water Damage Insurance Claim Tips to Follow
- Notify your insurance company right away
- Review your insurance policy
- Know the claims process
- Secure the property
- Take pictures and inventory everything
- Find temporary housing
- Work with a licensed restoration company
Notify Your Insurance Company Right Away
The most important step to take after finding water or flood damage on your property is to notify your insurance company. Most policies will require to have the policy holder to give “prompt notice” to the provider. If this is not done, or if there are any changes to the condition of the home before the claim is filed, the claim may not cover all or any of the damage.
Each insurance company will have a 24/7 claims reporting system.
Review Your Insurance Policy
Your homeowner's insurance policy will contain all the important information you need to know about your coverage, including your deductible, limitations, exclusions, explanation of the claim procedures, and required deadlines for filing the claim.
Know the Claims Process
As soon as you file a claim, your insurance agency will send an adjuster to your home within 15 days. You will also have to be home when they arrive to answer their questions and discuss the steps on how to proceed.
The adjuster will let you know if the damage will be covered by the claim. If it’s accepted, you will receive a check within 5 business days for the estimated cost of all repairs after the depreciation and deductible.
Replacement Cost Policy
If you have one of these, a second check will be sent after the insurance company receives the final bill for the finished restoration work. Keep in mind that all repairs and replacements must be made within the specified time period stated in the policy.
Actual Cash Value Coverage
If you have this feature, you will only be given a check that covers the cost of reconstructing or replacing the property after depreciation.
If your insurance claim is rejected or does not cover enough of the damage, you can request a written explanation for their reasoning as well as contact a public adjuster to re-evaluate the claim. If you are still unable to reach an agreement, you can file a written complaint with your local department of insurance. By visiting their website and calling them on the Consumer Help Line, you will be able to request a form there.
Secure the Property
Another important requirement for insurance companies is to prevent the damage from spreading. In the event of water damage, if there is something you can do, such as fixing a leak or clearing the debris from the gutter, do it yourself (as long as it doesn’t put you in danger).
If the insurance adjuster finds that you were able to remove the source of damage and didn’t, the claim may also be reduced. Keep in mind that additional damage after reporting the claim may not be covered by the insurance company.
Here are some tips to start the water damage cleanup process:
- Mopping up any standing water
- Drying out the area
- Boarding up windows and doors to prevent the water from seeping in
- Removing personal items from the area to prevent them from becoming damaged
At any time while you are doing these tasks, never throw anything away or compromise the scene until the adjuster inspects the property.
Take Pictures and Inventory Everything
You will always want to make sure there is evidence of the damage that occurred to the structure. After removing the source and performing a basic cleanup, take pictures of everything.
Remember that dealing with any claim is to always have more evidence than what you think is needed. Make sure to keep all records of communication between you and the insurer. Then combine the photos with a compiled inventory of all personal items damaged in the process.
The inventory list should have the following information:
- Name of the item and description
- Item’s age
- Make and model number of the items
- Replacement costs, including the price to replace it today as well as its facetime value
The more information you collect on the items and damaged structure, the more money you will be able to obtain from the claim.
Find Temporary Housing
In extreme cases, water damage can lead to serious destruction, such as mold and critical structural damage. If the safety of you and your family are at risk, you will need to find temporary housing.
Many homeowner’s insurance policies will include an emergency fund. You should be able to use that and stay at a hotel. But if the home won’t be ready to move back in in the near future, the insurance company must also know as well as pay for a portion of that cost.
Even if you have a larger home, such as a 4 bedroom, 5 bathrooms, and 2 garage home, the insurance company will also need to compensate for additional living expenses.
Work with a Licensed Restoration Company
While your insurance company may have recommendations for which restoration providers to use, you are not obliged to use them by any means. Just keep in mind that the restoration company you choose can have a significant impact on your insurance claim. If a technician is not trained or licensed to perform a certain job, additional damage can occur, not to mention prolonging the restoration process. In other words, make sure that they are reliable, experienced, and of course, licensed.
If you live in the North Texas area, call ServiceMaster of North Texas. Our professionals are on call 24/7 for all water emergencies. We will respond right away to extract all water, assess the damage, set up drying equipment, disinfect hard surfaces, and repair the structural damage.
They can also restore your damaged contents to their original conditions using content cleaning services. If needed, we can also have your items professionally cleaned, using our pack-out services to transport your items to and from our climate-controlled facility. After the work on your home is completed, the items will be delivered to your door.
We will then work with you and your insurance company through the claims process to allow everything to run smoothly.