Water Damage

There is probably more water claims denied then any other for property policies. If you do have a claim then it must be determined if the policy will respond. The insurance adjuster is the person who makes this decision. Some types of water damage are covered. Some are excluded such as seepage. It is therefore necessary to review individual wordings on policies to see which exclusions are applicable.

Water Damage from a windstorm such as typhoon, hurricane or severe hail might mean that it will take longer for the insurance adjuster to assign your claim and/or attend the scene if there is damage to a large area of homes. While you are waiting for an adjuster or response from the insurer you need to do everything you can to minimize the damage to your property . You must bear in mind that if this is not a covered claim that the expenses you incur will not be reimbursed.

Sometimes the government steps in and assists with claims but usually only after the insurer has denied the claim. Documentation is important and it is a good idea to keep track of the man hours spent on the immediate clean-up. It is usual that the insurer will pay a small amount per hour for the work done if it has helped to reduce the overall cost of the claim. It is always best to follow the direction of the adjuster if it is available.

Before you start to tear out or remove any damaged property or debris it would be a good idea to take a video or pictures if you can. Store any damaged property until the adjuster gives permission for disposal.

Examples of some immediate things that you can do include covering any openings with plastic, a tarp or use other temporary measures to help prevent any additional water damage, and dry out water damaged/wet areas immediately to protect against mold growth; use dehumidifiers and fans to help move the air and reduce moisture. Open cabinet and closet doors. Move contents to a dry and safe place. Obviously ruined contents can be moved outside to dry until the adjuster comes to do an inspection.

If you suspect that there is water into the roof and that it might come in through the ceilings you need to look for wet areas. If you see the ceiling dripping, you could put a bucket under the leak. You might poke a hole at the edge of the wet area so any trapped water can drain into buckets below. You could keep poking holes as you move to the lowest point of your ceiling. Shut off electricity in the these affected areas. Try not to get close to lights and other electrical fixtures with your stick.

If the circumstances demanded that you proceed further then remove soaked or sagging drywall with caution as it may be quite heavy. Remove the debris in sealed plastic garbage bags, and put it outside for the adjuster to inspect. Remove any wet insulation in the ceiling to allow the joists to dry.

The adjuster might ask you to check for moist drywall or water on the floor at the base of the walls. If you suspect that water is in the wall, take off the baseboard. If you are comfortable with proceeding further then you can drill or cut a small hole into the wall about 2 inches above the floor. This would be just above the 2x4 wood sill plate. You want the hole low enough so it can be covered by the baseboard after you are done and the wall has dried out. If water is coming out, cut or drill a hole large enough to allow water to drain freely. Catch this water in a flat container. Make a few holes try and drain the water out of the wall spaces. Be sure to shut off electricity in the area. Be careful not to use tools close to live outlets, switches or other electrical fixtures. Set up fans to ventilate and dry wet areas. Again, you would not be doing these steps unless this is an emergency situation and you have received explicit instruction from the adjuster to do so.

Further steps you might take if you have wall paneling and concerns about water being behind the panels then carefully pry the bottom of each panel away from the wall. Prop the bottom away from the sill so the wall cavities can drain and dry out. Set up fans to ventilate and dry wet areas.

What about the carpeting? It should be dried using heaters and fans. You can pull up large areas, if necessary. If the carpeting is old or it is a really large area that is wet, it may be necessary to remove it from the building. This cannot be removed, you must keep it available for inspection by the adjuster. Concrete or other such hard surface flooring should be dried using a towel or a mop.

What will you be paid for your damaged furnishings and other accessories? If you do have coverage on your personal property you will need to provide a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed items. This should include a description and age of items, the purchase price and an estimated current replacement cost.

Under Specified Perils and Comprehensive coverage for your automobile you also have flood coverage. If your vehicle does suffer water damage it will likely be written off. The electrical system will not be reliable and could lead to serious problems.

Your broker will help you achieve fair treatment in your claim. Your broker cannot confirm nor deny coverage - this is the job of your insurance adjuster. Your broker can help you understand the process and help with delays in communication, processing the paperwork and often will have the Proof of Loss from the insurer that will have to be signed to receive your claims payment.