When it comes to causes of insurance claims, water damage is one of the most common. However, incidents entitled to a water damage claim remain in question under some insurance providers.
More often than not, gradual water damages are not acknowledged as valid causes for a claim.
Water Damage Claim 101.
One common mistake homeowners make during a flood and other water-related incidents is calling their insurance provider only at a date past the event, i.e. the flood in their area has already subsided.
Did you know that reporting the incident outright can deprive the provider of the chance to deny your claim? Before you even begin your clean-up activity, it is best to make that call right away to report the root cause of the incident. Water leaks also need an urgent resolution to block further flooding and its corresponding damage. The longer the solution is laid out, the larger damage the water leakage can cause.
Most insurance policies classify water leaks into two types: sudden and chronic.
A sudden leak is when a broken water pipe or other factors caused the water leak and the incident occurred without warning. In most insurance policies, a sudden leak is covered.
A chronic leak, on the other hand, is when a water leak has been causing damage for a long period already because of the policy holder’s negligence in ridding the cause. Chronic leaks are usually caused by a roof leak or a leaking pipe and will need to be addressed with urgency. The moment your insurance company finds out that you have cuddled the leak and it caused further gradual damage, it will possibly deny your water damage claim.
Definition of Gradual Damage.
Gradual damage is when damage in a property is slowly happening over an extended period. A common example of this is a minor pipe leak that has been left untreated, consequently causing damage to other areas such as the ceiling, water, and/or floor. In this case, filing a water damage claim will be a complex process to go through and might even end up in denial. Technically, if the water damage did not come sudden or accidental and it has been a long-standing problem despite you not being able to detect it earlier, then it is still considered gradual damage.
It may seem initially unfair if you never actually knew about the issue until it caused a major problem and your policy provider would not consider your reasons. However, it is also worth remembering that insurance policies, at the core, are only designed to cover sudden and accidental damages.
Exceptions to gradual damage exist, nonetheless. Hence, it is always best to consult your agent if seemingly chronic leaks arise as he can help dissect your situation and identify which conditions of the policy your case falls in. All policies including the normal wear and tear but gradual damage can still be worked out for a water damage claim. You just need to have a good claim adjuster help you.The following causes of gradual damage may still be covered in your insurance policy:
1. Broken Pipe or Appliance. Incidents where broken pipe or appliance, e.g. a washing machine, can unexpectedly break without you noticing ahead because of wear and tear issues, may still be covered under the policy. Here, the owner will be entitled to a damage claim but this will exclude the repair needed on the pipe or the appliance.
2. Mold remediation is covered in various insurance companies.
3. Roof Damage. Damages on the roof caused by a fallen tree branch consequently allowing rainfall to enter may be covered by your water damage claim. Months from when the damage started, however, if you are to notice molds or signs of it in the area caused by the lousy repair, then the case would fall under gradual damage. Nonetheless, if you have indicated a proximate cause during the first claim, then your insurance policy provider may be inclined to cover the same damages.
How to Successfully File a Water Damage Claim?
Below are tips you can follow to have your water damage claim successfully accepted:
1. Keep that connection with your insurance agent.
If you plan to file a water damage claim, the very first person you should reach is your insurance agent as he will be the one to assist and guide you through the process. Initially, your agent will give you a list of requirements to comply. This will usually necessitate policyholders to prepare a written notice that shows the details of the probable cause of the claim. In paper, you will also have to indicate the actions you have taken to protect your property from further damage, any reasonable and vital repair jobs that needed to be carried out, and a thorough and accurate repair expense documentation, including receipts-keeping from day one.
Record the damages.
While an immediate clean-up is necessary, recording the damages is also as vital for you to be able to show enough proof of the damage’s extent should your insurance policy provider ask you about it. This can be done by listing all your damaged properties and keeping a photo or video documentation to back it up. The media should be capturing the damage at its worst condition so that your insurance agent will also have a better picture of your situation.
2. Wait for your insurance agent to get back to you before you start your repair works.
At least leave enough time for your agent to personally check your property before you start the repair. Remember, repairs that are deemed permanent may hinder the approval of your water damage claim. Your agent’s approval is vital.
3. Clean it up.
Once your agent has given his go signal, you can immediately start cleaning the mess, i.e. the removal of any standing water. Any properties soaked in water must also be placed in a dry area. No matter how damaged some of your materials are, do not throw them out as much as possible. Rather, consult your agent first about it.