Homeowner’s insurance can be a lifesaver, as you probably realized when a pipe burst or leaked and you were left with a water damaged home. However, things are not that simple, and having insurance doesn’t necessarily mean that all your losses will be covered.
While most homeowners eventually get their claims paid and their losses covered, insurance companies are determined to keep your claims and payouts as low as possible, it’s their business model after all. Here are some tips on what to do and what not to do to maximize your water damage claim payout.
How to file and maximize a water damage claim.
1. Remove the source of damage.
Once you find water damage, you should try to stop it from getting worse, otherwise, your insurance may decline your claim entirely based on the fact that you should have taken action to protect your property.
How to stop the damage from worsening depends on where the damage is coming from; If you have a leaky or burst pipe, shut off your water main, if it’s a leaky door or window then seal it up with some tarp.
If you DON’T know where the damage is coming from, then hiring a professional is the way to go. They’ll be able to identify the source and maybe even get started on repairs. However, you should be careful about getting repairs done before your insurance claim goes through since the payout might not cover them completely. We advise you to get an estimate that you can present to your insurance adjuster.
2. Remove and store water-damaged items.
For your safety and that of your family, you should remove any water-damaged items from your home, since they can contain dangerous mold and bacteria. However, you should not throw them away. Store them in plastic bags so you can show them to your adjuster as evidence and physical proof of what happened.
3. Gather evidence.
Your insurance company will require you to present evidence of the damage in order to assess your claim, that’s why you should always store water-damaged items. However, that’s not nearly enough, you should also use your phone or camera to take pictures and videos of the damage, including what you believe to be the cause. Video is especially useful since pictures can sometimes be confusing due to bad lighting or weird angles.
As well as documenting the events, you should list all of your damaged goods and property, with their value and estimated replacement cost. If you’re unsure about the costs of items, you can hire an appraiser to give more insight into the value of paintings, furniture, etc.
If you’re working with professionals, get quotes for the costs of repairs and reports explaining exactly what went down. Remember to keep receipts for any work they do!
4. File your claim.
The most important step is to file your claim with your insurance company. In order to avoid complications, you should try to do so as soon as possible, it’s as simple as calling them and letting them know you’ve suffered water damage. If you don’t, they might try to weasel out of paying you because of the delayed notification. Even if you’re not sure if your policy covers it, give them a call, there’s no fee for asking.
If you don’t feel like going through the hassle of filing your claim and dealing with insurance, you can always hire an insurance dispute lawyer. These guys are experts in dealing with insurance companies and have the know-how to get your claim paid out in full and on time.
Can you negotiate with insurance adjusters?
YES – you can negotiate with insurance adjusters for your water damage claim. A lot of people out there don’t realize that they don’t have to settle for the first offer the insurance adjuster makes. Think about it this way, an insurance adjuster has three objectives in mind:
1. Prevent Fraud
2. Settle claims quickly
3. Settle claims for as little as possible.
They work for the insurance company, so although it may not seem that way, they DON’T have your best interests at heart. That’s why if you feel their offer is too low or not fair, gather up as much evidence as possible and make a more reasonable counter offer. Of course, if you hired a lawyer, he would be the one doing that for you. Remember, they want to settle your claim quickly so that they can move on to the next one, so a reasonable counter-offer will probably be accepted!
Is mold damage covered by insurance?
Most Homeowner’s Insurance won’t cover mold damage in itself, but they do so if the mold is caused by a “covered peril”. This means that if you suddenly find moldy patches, you might be out of luck, but for our purposes, mold caused by water damage – a covered peril – will be covered in your claim. However, since no two policies are alike, the safest bet is that you contact your insurance provider and ask them directly.
Beware of Insurance Company Vendors
Most insurance companies will try to get you to hire their vendors to repair the damage. While this can be convenient at times, once again you have a conflict of interest. These people depend on the insurance company, so in lieu of saving some cash, they might not give you a fair assessment of the damage.
Even if you end up going through insurance vendors, it would be wise to get independent restoration companies to at least give you their assessment of the damage and a quote for the repairs. That’s where we come in – we can get you in touch with the best restoration companies in your area, which can provide an honest and fair assessment of what your home needs.