While flood is an excluded peril under the standard homeowners’ policy, there are many water damage claims that have nothing to do with flood. Many water damage claims result from the overflow of a plumbing fixture. For example the supply line servicing a sink may break, resulting in significant water damage. These types of claims can be very expensive and the insurance industry is very concerned about the cost of water damage claims.
If you experience water damage, from any source, your first consideration should be to stop any further damage. Water damage that occurs over a long period of time is not covered. Do the necessary to stop further water damage. It is also really important to repair the water damage as soon as possible.
Once that has been done, it is extremely important to verify that all water has been removed and that anything affected is properly dried. If proper water removal and drying is not done, there is a significant risk that mold will develop. Some mold has the potential to create a serious health hazard. In addition, treating any mold shortly after water damage occurs is usually quick and inexpensive. However, failure to clean mold promptly may result in mold spreading resulting in a very large, potentially uninsured loss.
This means the most important consideration is to make sure any water is removed, things are properly dried and any mold is remediated. The question of who pays, you or the insurance company, is important but secondary to the importance of getting the problem fixed properly. This may be done as part of an insurance claim or at your own expense.
Many of our clients ask about the impact of a water damage claim on insurance premiums. Insurance companies may increase premium substantionally, at renewal, in the event of a water damage claim. In some cases a water claim may result in non-renewal and a water claim may impact insurability with another carrier. For this reason, some people choose to not report a water damage claim to their carrier and pay for the damage directly. We neither want to encourage or discourage the filing of a water damage claim, but do want to make sure that you know the impact filing this type of claim may have on your insurance premiums in the future.
Many water damage claims are covered by a homeonwers’ insurance policy. Water damage resulting from the overflow of a plumbing fixture is a covered peril. However, a downspout is not a plumbing fixture. In addition, if a roof leaks, resulting water damage may depend on what caused the roof to leak. In some cases, the insurance carrier will pay for the water damage, but not for the repairs to the roof itself. If a plumbing fixture leaks, the insurance company will pay for the water damage, but not necessarily for the cost to repair the plumbing. Each case is different and the decision will be made based the actual policy wording.
In summary, the most important thing is to make sure that any water damage is repaired promptly and any property affected is properly dried. In addition, the affected area should be inspected for mold and any existing mold must be remediated. If there is any doubt, seriously consider hiring a professional certified to do this type of inspection.