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In the event of water damage to your home or property, are you prepared? How can you make sure your water damage claim will be covered by insurance?

Water damage to homes is especially prevalent for Florida homeowners. In fact, the frequency and intensity of water damage, especially caused by broken or leaky pipes, has increased by 46% percent since 2010.

In this day and age, many Florida insurance policies can deny a claim if there is a presence of mold or if a leak has been present for more than 14 days. Staying on top of water damage insurance claim knowledge could save you a painful conversation with your insurance company if one of these things happens to you.

First, be sure you know what is typically covered by insurance policies for water damage:

  • Plumbing or appliance malfunction
  • Burst pipes
  • Leaky roofs

Now, here are some types of water damage not typically covered by insurance:

  • Groundwater leaking into basements
  • Flood damage
  • Damage from long-term leaks or sewage issues
  • Mold, rot, or fungus
  • Sewage or pipe backup

We know navigating water damage loss can be stressful and overwhelming. To help you out, here are the top nine water damage insurance claim tips you should remember.

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Preventative measures:

1. Document your home and belongings

If you know you live in an area prone to water damage, you should make sure to document your home and belongings well. Keep photos and videos in a storage cloud where they can easily be retrieved in the event of an emergency.

Keeping an inventory and photos of your home and belongings could really help you in the case of an emergency. You’ll be able to easily provide evidence of the full scope of your losses to the insurance adjusters.

Even if you don’t live in an area prone to water damage, this type of index is generally a good idea. It’s helpful based on what we’ve seen, especially with Florida residents and the yearly threat of hurricane and storm damage.

2. Check the kinds of damage you are covered for

There are some kinds of water damage that are not covered by insurance. Make sure you know what’s on your policy and what you are covered for.

For example, flood insurance is not covered by homeowners insurance. If flooding is something you are concerned about, make sure you’ve added that type of insurance separately.

Flood insurance can only be handled through the National Flood Insurance Program. You can learn more about flood insurance on the FEMA website here.

You don’t want to be caught in a situation where you think you are covered by your insurance policy, only to realize you are completely responsible for your losses in the case of a disaster. Take the time now to become acquainted with the details of your policy.

3. Make sure your home is safe

Take the opportunity now to make sure your home is safe and protected from any type of predictable natural disaster that could happen in your area.

Make sure inspections are up-to-date and regular maintenance is done on possible sources of water damage. Any preventative measures you can take to make sure your pipes don’t burst will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

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In the event of damage:

4. File a claim right away

In the event of water damage to your home or property, don’t wait to file an insurance claim. File a claim quickly, so the insurance adjuster can take a look at the damage as quickly as possible.

Water damage can displace you from the regular routine of your home. If you have to turn off water or power, evacuate the home, or replace essentials, you won’t be able to live in your home as normal until the damage has been fixed. File a claim quickly so you can avoid extended stays in hotels or with family.

This is especially important in the event of a storm or hurricane, where insurance adjusters may be busy with several claims. Since they usually operate on a first-come, first-served basis, get in line as early as possible for this process.

Related: What Florida Residents Should Know About The Insurance Appraisal Process

5. Document all damage

Take pictures and videos of the damage as early as possible, even before clean-up has started. Get pictures and videos of standing water before you drain it, and make sure you’ve done the same for furniture and belongings as well.

This is why it’s helpful to have a documented index of what your home and property were like before any damage occurred. Although it isn’t always necessary, it certainly helps, especially if you and your insurance company aren’t coming to an agreement on the estimated cost of losses.

For valuables, you can add when they were purchased, how much they cost, and the current value of the items. This can help streamline the insurance claim process.

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6. Drain any standing water

Then, of course, clean up whatever you can to prevent further water damage. Drain any standing water as quickly as possible after it’s been thoroughly documented.

Hopefully, this will stop the spread of water damage to your floors, foundation, or other parts of your home.

7. Dry areas affected by water damage

Dry out the areas affected by water damage as best you can. This can be especially difficult for carpeted and water-logged areas, but can help prevent mold growth when done correctly.

If you do end up getting some type of mold growth due to water damage, it usually results in having to file another insurance claim. Be sure to be as thorough as possible while drying your home and possessions to avoid this.

Here are some helpful ways to dry water damaged areas:

  • Open windows and doors: if the humidity allows, get air moving through the house as quickly as possible and leave open for a long time.
  • High powered fans: You can usually buy or rent industrial fans to help speed up the drying process:
  • Sump pump: If you have several inches of standing water, this may be a good option for you since it will pump water out through a long hose.
  • Wet/dry shop vacuum: An industrial shop vac built for water usage can help save rugs and carpets from permanent damage.

Check out some more resources here to help thoroughly dry your home and belongings.

8. Negotiate if needed

You can actually negotiate with your insurance company if you are unsatisfied with your claim outcome. For smaller claims, this may not be much of an issue. For larger claims, it may be worth getting on the phone to see if you can get a more fair settlement for your losses.

If your insurance company still won’t budge, you do have another option-

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If you’re unsatisfied with your claim:

9. Hire a public adjuster

If needed, you can hire a public adjuster to help you get a better settlement.

A public adjuster is an independent, licensed professional specialized in getting fair insurance settlements for policyholders. They will handle the claim dispute for you, and are well-versed in effectively negotiating with insurance companies.

In the case of a water damage claim, make sure you hire a public adjuster that thoroughly understands the type of damage to your home. This can help out your claim immensely if it is handled by an expert on the subject.

Typically, hiring a public adjuster is reserved for larger claims. For smaller claims, the disputed amount may be equal to or less than the adjuster’s fee, so it might not be worth the trouble. For larger claims though, it could save you thousands of dollars.

Related: What Is A Public Adjuster? What Every Homeowner Should Know

So, to recap, here are the main tips you should remember around water damage insurance claims:

  • Take preventative measures if you can: make sure your house and plumbing are properly maintained.
  • Document home and belongings beforehand: if you can, keep an index of photos, videos, and specifications of your home and belongings.
  • File a claim right away: in the event of damage, file an insurance claim right away to get the ball rolling and limit time in recovery.
  • Document all damage thoroughly: take thorough pictures and videos of water damage
  • Dry everything to prevent further damage: and hopefully avoid another insurance claim or time spent living outside your home

With a little research, preventative measures, and the right professionals, you should be able to move through the insurance claim process with relatively few hiccups. Try to prepare for or prevent water damage if you can. If you haven’t been able to prepare in the event of an emergency, make sure the right professionals are on your side.

Do you have any questions about water damage claims, flood claims, or burst pipes in your home? Shoot us an email at dependableresolutions@gmail.com for professional advice.

Florida residents especially should be sure to like us on Facebook to be informed about all your insurance and public adjuster questions.