Water Damage & Flood Insurance Claims: Preventing a Nightmare
After water damage has occurred to your property, you will be busy getting your lives and your things back into order again. In the midst of this stress and coming to terms with the unexpected emergency itself, you will have to contact your insurance agent to start the homeowner’s insurance claim process. At this point, your insurance company ‘s requirements and the process of filing a claim can rapidly become a pressing part of your life.
In our experience, we have found there are five most basic, yet forgotten, tips to bear in mind to minimize the additional stress that this type of claim process can produce.
1. Choose your water damage restoration company ahead of time
When threatened by this type of emergency, panic is often the first reaction. It is essential to react quickly to prevent further damage and mitigate the problems resulting from the water damage situation.
Subject to the laws of your state, your insurance agent may be prohibited from endorsing a specific company to repair your damages. Nonetheless, you have the right to decide on your water damage restoration company. However, it is important to only choose certified professionals to perform water damage restoration services. Do not make your selection based only on the price. Make sure you choose a company that offers a range of water damage restoration services, and a company that is available 24/7, because emergencies are not scheduled for a convenient time.
2. Keep a home inventory
Insurers recommend taking the time to track your possessions in case of emergencies. A home inventory provides not only a much-needed sense of order, it ensures all your possessions are accounted for and supports you getting an appropriate return for them. It also can speed up the claim process, since it will provide your insurer with a detailed list of items with data such as model and serial numbers, and an idea of their purchase price and condition.
Nowadays, you can find mobile apps that can help you compile this inventory and save you from a nightmare when the unexpected emergency comes along.
3. Know the coverage of your insurance policy
Be sure you are aware of what is covered, because coverage from water damage varies from policy to policy. Essentially, there are two different policies that cover water damage: the homeowner’s insurance policy and the separate flood insurance policy to go along with it. Most times, natural flooding will not be covered under your homeowner policy, so flood insurance must be purchased separately.
4. Take steps towards mitigating the loss
It is usually appropriate to take protective actions as soon as possible after an incident. However, if there is a strong sign that your damage was caused by an accident, it is better to leave everything in place and be careful with what you clean up.
On the other hand, you should do whatever you can to prevent more water from entering the affected area and/or reduce ongoing damage. Keep in mind that insurance claims are from time to time denied because the homeowner did not engage in "mitigation of loss."
Try to balance your actions with the need to “preserve the scene.” Don't create a situation in which it is your word against the insurance adjustor’s word as to what caused the damage. If you have to move something or repair it, keep a visual record (video or photos) of this situation.
5. Have a visual record
A visual record is nothing more than a set of photos to adequately document the damage. Normally the claim process requires the story to be as complete as possible, and for this reason, it is expected that the insurance adjustor will take plenty of pictures too. The combination of your pictures along with the adjustor’s pictures will supplement your case, and strengthen your arguments if there's a dispute. You should also be sure you have “after” photos in your home inventory as well.