How to prevent the most common water claim issues?

Did you know that according to ISO, water damage claims are the second largest and most frequent claim? It’s also one of the most expensive claims. Water damage is bad news and is best avoided.

There are different kinds of water damage, and it is important to understand what kind of water damage is covered by home insurance. Instances such as a flood, sudden or accidental discharge, sewer backup, or storm-related water damage are all usually covered.

What’s often not covered is gradual water damage that occurs over time. This includes pipes which have been leaking, seepage from cracks, or parts of a roof.

The best way to protect yourself from such water damage is to prevent water damage from ever occurring. Here are a few tips on how to do this: 

Precautions for the erratic weather conditions:

Hurricanes are an unfortunately common occurrence in the summer, and they can obviously cause a lot of potential damage. It’s best to be prepared for these disasters beforehand, so that even in case of a natural disaster, the damage done is minimal, or at least contained. But, of course, there’s only so much you can do about the weather.

What about stuff that’s more in your control? Well, make sure that your pipelines are secured and strong to withstand weather events. Check for leaks all around the structure of the dwelling, and fix any faulty faucets you may find. The colder months pose risks of their own as well, the problem in the winter is that pipes tend to freeze. As we all know, frozen pipelines are sometimes susceptible to bursting and must be attended to.

Here are some tips:

– Conduct regular inspections:

Whether it’s a condo or a standalone structure, habitual inspections for leaks and cracks is a must. Fix problems as you notice them.

– Service your appliances: 

Appliances that use water such as dishwashers and washing machines should be serviced from time to time. A malfunctioning appliance can sometimes cause water damage.

– Check on your spouts:

Spouts in showers, tubs, kitchen sinks and so on must be regularly checked. A leaky spout may cause more damage in the long run than you think.

These are prevention techniques that will help you to prevent water damage, or at least, nip it in the bud.

But sometimes the damage cannot be prevented. Stuff may happen and you may need to make a claim from your insurer. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind if that should occur.

– Damage by hurricanes or flooding

It’s important to note that many private homeowner’s policies do not usually cover flood damage. You will have to buy a separate flood insurance policy, for eg,  via the National Flood Insurance Program to cover your costs. If you live in an area that is susceptible to hurricanes or extreme weather, it’s best that you seek a separate policy.

– Inform your agent immediately

If the damage is already done, the first step you must take is to inform your agent. Immediate action must be taken to clean things up so that the damage is contained. Start by documenting the damage. Write a detailed notice which systematically explains the damage with a detailed cause of the claim as well.

– Understand the kind of leak

Depending on the nature of the leak, the repairs and work will vary. Your insurance company will have different expectations and requirements from you depending on various factors. For eg, whether the cause of the damage is a chronic leak or a sudden event?

– Capture the damage

Take a few photographs and videos of the damage at its absolute worst. Whether it’s structural damage or a stagnant water problem, make sure that it is recorded properly. Make a comprehensive list of the damaged areas of the property, from the furniture and appliances to even valuable items around the house. Everything that is damaged should be recorded, no matter how big or small.

– Be patient

It’s usually prudent to wait to take action until you get an official confirmation or acceptance of your claim from the insurance company. You may end up losing your claim, especially if permanent repairs are carried out without the approval of the company. Please remember to check with your agent on the right procedure to be followed in case some emergency repairs have to be carried out.

– Record all of the activities taking place with your claim

Whether it’s something as simple as reattaching a valve, or replacing a faucet, make sure that you keep a record of all of the expenses that have been incurred as a part of you claim, and, retain receipts for all the raw materials.

Of course, not all claims get approved. This may be due to a variety of reasons. If your claim has been denied and you are not entirely sure why you have the right to ask for a full explanation. Do ask about the exact policy which was violated and that’s preventing your claim from being covered. You can also ask at what level the decision was made and consider asking for a second opinion. Gradual water damage is the most common ground for a claim to be rejected since insurance is designed to take care of sudden or accidental damages, with a few exceptions such as mold, roof damage, or broken pipes. 

In closing, it’s best to know exactly what you are protected against. For the issues that cause gradual damage, the best solution is prevention. For other issues, insurance often offers the cure!