Dealing with water damage in your home is stressful enough, so why should the claims process add more stress and frustration to your life? It doesn’t have to! In this article we will provide you with some helpful tips that can make the claims process go smoothly and hassle free for you!
The first thing is that water damage and flooding are two very different things, so don’t just assume that your home is flooded, or has undergone a flood. Now, most insurance companies understand that when a pipe in your home bursts and causes water damage that it isn’t the same thing as a river overflowing and submerging your whole estate in sewage water. However, no standard homeowner insurance policy will cover floods, so if you call and have water damage, make sure that you don’t use the word flood when describing the damage that was done to your property. Even if your insurance company does come to its senses and realizes that this was in fact water damage, not flood damage, you may not be reimbursed until months after the initial water damage, and it will leave you to take care of the bills that should have already been taken care of in the first place. When you talk to your insurance agent, it is all about verbiage.
image source, firewaterstormpros.com
Next, be careful what you begin to clean up. This directly correlates with the tip above. If its blatantly obvious that the water damage on your property was caused by storm damage, or an accident, leave it in the state that you found it in if possible. You’ll have to balance this with the need to mitigate the loss by preventing further damage, but you mustn’t create a situation where what caused the damage is your word against the insurance adjusters. If you have to possibly move something in order to repair it, take a photo as proof.
Now that almost everyone and their mother have a smart phone, taking photos of the damage is easier than ever. You should document the damage carefully, as well the efforts you have put in to reduce the damage and the loss. It is not unlikely that the insurance adjuster will take many pictures as well, and the combination of your photos and the adjusters will help get your claim approved. And even better, if your after photos can be compared to your before photos, it will definitely give you an upper hand and strengthen your argument if there is a dispute over how much something had been damaged or what shape it was in before the water damage incident.
Now, if the water damage on your property was caused by someone else, you will want to have complete information on them (contact information, name, insurance company, policy number, and contractor license number. An example of this could be anything from your upstairs neighbor having a burst pipe or your brand new water heater completely blew. You should also get the license number and if you can, also the VIN number and insurance information if a vehicle caused the water flow or was damaged by it. If any others caused the water damage, their insurance will obviously be responsible for paying for the damages, so you may get the deductible back from your carrier.
Lastly, you should know what to expect if you have to go somewhere other than your residence for temporary housing. You should know what to expect in advance of a disaster, just so you know what will happen during a disaster. You will need to find out what your insurance company will pay for temporary housing (hotel, motel, etc.) and food costs if you have to leave your home while a property damage restoration company does the work. Often, this loss of use compensation will be about 20% of your overall coverage, but you should always be sure to keep a firm number from your carrier. You should also keep detailed records of what you spend from when you evacuate all the way until you return to your home.
If you follow these tips, it will make the claim check at your insurance company bigger, and it will definitely aid you in undergoing a stress free claims and restoration process.