How to Make a Water Damage Insurance Claim
From heavy rains to aging pipes, protecting your home from frustrating water damage can be impossible. Water and moisture have their way of making it into homes, often causing significant damage. It can be distressing and overwhelming to find your property the victim of this unfortunate occurrence.
The financial impact of these situations can be staggering. Water damage insurance is invaluable to have in these situations. It protects you and your home and provides you the means to repair and replace your property.
Unfortunately, damage to your home can be an unfortunate downside to home ownership. It’s how you react to the damage that often determines the outcome. By calmly following the steps to make a water damage insurance claim, you can get back to normal life with little stress and frustration.
You Have to Know the “Flood” Insurance Jargon
People use the word “flood” all the time when they call their insurance. It might be your first instinct when talking to friends or family is to simply say, “The house is flooded.” Even though what you really mean is, “there’s water everywhere,” because a pipe burst or a toilet or washer overflowed.
To an insurance company, the word “flood” refers to a situation where a significant amount of standing water has entered the home. This is usually due to a large natural disaster or when waters have spilled over the banks of a nearby tributary, river, or ocean. Often, insurance companies can deny flood claims if you lack flood coverage.
Ensure Your Safety When There is Water in Your Home
Your top priority after water damage is making sure that you and your family is safe. Standing or uncontrolled water can make a home uninhabitable. It’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure a safe environment and living situation.
Depending on the amount of water that has entered your home, you may need to turn off the power. Water and electricity are a dangerous combination. If you can’t get to the breaker box to cut the power, you may need to reach out to your electric company for help. They should be able to best advise you on how to proceed.
Standing water is usually filthy and often full of dangerous residue and debris. Imagine the amount of sewage and chemicals the waters have accumulated before reaching your home. You will need to take steps to be sure that items in your home are not contaminated, especially if the water reached your kitchen.
Water leaking from broken plumbing can be very unclean. This is especially true if you have experienced a broken drainage pipe or malfunctioning toilet. Take proper health and safety precautions when handling this water.
With the possible number of toxins in water in your home, it’s better to play it safe than sorry. Dispose of any food that you think may have been possibly dampened. Disinfect any floors and services the water might have had contact with.
Prevent Additional Flood Damage
Your next step should be taking the steps to prevent any additional damage to your home and belongings. Removing as much water and moisture as possible is an important part of this. You can begin this process as soon as it’s safe to re-enter your home.
Make sure your sump pump is functioning properly to rid your home of any current and future water that may enter. If it’s broken, attempt to replace it as soon as possible. Remove any additional standing water using buckets if necessary.
It’s important to remove as much moisture from your home as possible to prevent mold and mildew. A shop vac can be used to remove any remaining water from surfaces. You can also use dehumidifiers to dry out the areas hardest hit. Depending on the temperature, your HVAC system can be used to keep dry air circulating throughout your home.
Check Your Insurance Records
When the chaos has settled, it’s important to begin your claim as soon as possible. Being prepared will give you the best success in a seamless claim filing process. Locating your records is the first step in being prepared for this.
Find your policy and locate your water damage coverage specifications. You’ll want to make sure you’re prepared to discuss the covered items and any gaps in your policy. Make sure your declaration page is up to date as wrong information can lead to a delay in processing time.
Contact Your Insurance Agent
Once you’ve cleaned up as much water as you can and found your policy documents, it’s time to call your insurance company. Depending on the circumstances, there may be many residents in your area that are suffering from water damage too. Your patience and understanding will make the process as pleasant as possible for all parties.
Call your agent or insurance claim line. Having all of your information handy will make filing your claim go as quickly as possible. Your policy number and contact information are important to provide. Make sure you let your insurer know the best way for an adjuster to reach you to set up an appointment.
If you prefer to have a public insurance adjuster call the insurance company on your behalf, you can hire Paul Dix Insurance Adjusters. We negotiate with your insurance company at every step to ensure that you get the claim that you deserve.
Document the Water Damage
You might be tempted to make some quick repairs right away. It’s important, though, to fully capture the extent of the damage. Creating evidence of the destruction will aid you in the claims process and give you the proof to present to your insurer.
Take photographs of any interior and exterior damage. Make sure not to miss often forgotten places like garages and other structures on your property. Be careful to capture any standing water or visible water damage to the walls.
Your damaged items should also be photographed. Your adjuster should have the chance to assess your damaged possessions as well. It’s important not to discard these belongings until the adjuster has had the chance to inspect them.
Waiting for Your Appointment
Heavy rains and frozen pipes can happen simultaneously in many homes in the same area. The insurance company’s adjusters might have an influx in appointments so yours might be delayed. Your home may need some short-term repairs to make it liveable while you wait. This includes making sure to remove items to prevent further damage.
Your home might be damaged to the point you can’t safely stay there. Check your insurance coverage for relocation or additional living expenses. This covers the expenses for you to live and eat elsewhere while the damage to your home is remedied.
It’s important to look at this coverage carefully. It’s meant to cover the increase in expenses you incur due to living outside your home. Your adjuster can help you with resources to keep your living expenses inside the coverage limits so you’re not hit with a huge surprise expense. Keep all of your receipts during this time to add to your claim.
If your home is liveable, make sure to clear out as much damage as possible. Moldy drywall and destroyed carpet should be removed from the home and discarded. Any items that can’t be completely dried should be thrown out to prevent the spread of mold and mildew.
Create a List For an Insurance Adjuster
Before your adjuster arrives, it’s important to be ready to provide a full picture of the damage. Creating a list of the items that were damaged is helpful in calculating your claim. Being as detailed as possible ensures you receive the correct amount to replace your items.
A public insurance adjuster can help you create a detailed list and ensure that the insurance company’s adjuster doesn’t miss anything.
Make an index of the items you have lost or have been destroyed. Make sure the items that you have set aside to discard after the adjuster visits are included. Go through your home room by room to ensure you don’t fail to list any forgotten items.
Your list should be as detailed as possible for an accurate valuation. The date of purchase, original value, and item descriptions are helpful. Purchase records or receipts are also valuable resources in calculating as exact replacement costs as possible.
Work with Your Insurance Adjuster
Preparing for your adjuster’s visit is important to make sure it’s as beneficial as possible. Gather your photographic evidence and list of damaged items. Create a list for yourself of damage you want to be sure to point out to your adjuster.
Walk your property and inspect it with your adjuster. Show them any areas of concern that you have. They can discuss coverage with you as well as recommended repairs.
Your proof of loss form will have to be submitted to validate your claim. Insurers vary and some may require this to be submitted before the adjuster’s visit. However, some adjusters are able to help you complete this form.
This form must be submitted within sixty days of the date of the water damage. It should outline the damage as well as the costs for repair and replacement. This document is required by the National Flood Insurance Program before your insurer can complete your claim.
Consider Using a Public Insurance Adjuster
Paul Dix Insurance Adjusters would be happy to guide you through your claim. As a public adjuster, our job is to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve from your insurance company. Our expertise can help maximize your claim and make the process far less stressful.
Your insurance company’s adjuster works for them and likely has the insurers financial interests in mind. We will be able to provide you with a fair and honest claim report. We can even help appeal your claim if you find that the insurance company failed to provide enough coverage to properly repair your home.
Shop Around for Water Damage Repair Contractors
You’ll need to coordinate repairs once your claim has been approved. Luckily, a public adjuster like Paul Dix Insurance Adjusters can help — it’s important to find reputable and reliable contractors. You’ll also need to consider the approved amounts when evaluating their estimates.
When looking for contractors, it’s always helpful to seek opinions and feedback from friends and families. Ask about jobs that they have completed for past customers. Online review sites are also a good place to get accurate information about average pricing and a contractor’s previous projects.
If you had adequate coverage, you should be able to repair your space to the same specifications and condition it was in beforehand. Your claim amount should cover these repairs. Get several bids and show them to your insurance company’s adjuster.
If the bid is too high, a public adjuster like Paul Dix can often negotiate a better rate or recommend a more reasonably priced contractor. Once your insurance company’s adjuster approves the amount, a contract can be signed. Make sure you are happy with the terms and timeline of the agreement before signing.
Coordinate Payments and Reimbursements
Depending on your unique situation, payments may be dispersed in multiple ways. You may receive direct reimbursement for your belongings while your contractor might be paid directly for repairs. If you have a mortgage, your lender may also need to be involved in the process.
You might receive a check for the agreed-upon amount to replace your lost property. You also may need to replace the items immediately and seek reimbursement from the insurance company. Your insurer may also help guide you in ways and resources to replace items.
Your insurer or contractors may opt for a direct payment option. This simplifies and speeds up the process of paying for your repairs. Your contractor will bill the insurance company directly and they will send payment after you sign off on the completed work.
If you have a mortgage on your property, your lender might keep your repair costs in an escrow account. They have a vested interest in the property and will want to be sure that the needed repairs are made before the funds are released. You will likely need to coordinate this process between your lender and contractor. You may need to sign off on the repairs or get an inspection before the contractor is paid.
You may have experienced a bit of panic at the beginning of the process but being armed with knowledge will help your claim move along smoothly. By working with your insurer and patiently moving through the steps, you and your home will recover from unfortunate damage. You’ll be able to replace your belongings and return your home to normal with as little stress as possible.
After the dust has settled and your repairs are complete, it’s a good time to reflect on your experience. Reassess your amount of coverage and how the process went. This will allow you to be calmly prepared in case unexpected water damage strikes again in the future.