How do you make sense of your water damage insurance claims?

A pipe burst in your family room, or torrential rain has brought several inches of water into your basement area. You’re standing there in stagnant water and you don’t know what to do.

Of course, your first thought is to grab the buckets and mops and clean up. But what you need also to be thinking about is the terms of your insurance policy and contacting them about what’s happened. If you move forward with permanent repairs before contacting your insurance company, you could miss out on the compensation you deserve and may wind up with lots of out-of-pocket expenses when it’s time to fix the damage.

How to proceed after a water damage disaster.

1. Locate your policy and review it

– You should always keep insurance policies where you can easily find them. So, pull out your homeowner’s policy and look for the section on water damage coverage. You should find information such as deductibles, limitations, and exclusions. Then locate the section that instructs you on how to file a claim and the deadline for doing so. The sooner you move on this, the better!

2. Call the insurance company

– Once you’ve located your policy, make a note of the policy number and call your insurance carrier pronto. Be ready to provide all the details about the damage (try not to use the word “flood”) and ask for instructions on your next steps.

3. Write down everything

– As you are talking to your insurance company, take notes. It’s important to log everything they’ve told you and the dates and times of your conversations. Ensure you get the name of the person you’re speaking to. It may be a different individual each time.

4. Take photos

– The more your insurance company knows about the damage in your home, the more accurate your claim will be. So start by taking photos immediately. Grab your phone and document the damage before you move anything.

5. Preserve damaged items

– Don’t throw anything away, even if you’re sure it’s a total loss. In addition, make a detailed inventory of the items that are damaged. Write down the age of the item, its condition before the water damage occurred, the replacement cost, and cash value.

6. Malfunctioning equipment

If you believe your damage resulted from malfunctioning equipment, save any broken parts or anything else you believe may have been the culprit.

What happens next?

Once you’ve filed a claim and have given written notice to your insurance company about the damage, they generally have 15 days to send an “adjuster” to your home to inspect it. You will need to be home for this. This individual will view the damage, take photos, and write a detailed report.

If the company deems that your claim is accepted, you’ll receive – usually within a week – a check for the estimated cost of repairs minus depreciation and your deductible. If it does not, you’ll need to determine why and if you have any reason for appeal.

Mitigating loss from water damage

In the meantime, you will be allowed to take “mitigating measures” – emergency repairs that won’t affect your claim. For example, this could include boarding up doors or windows, closing up holes in the roof, removing standing water, and anything else you need to do to avoid further damage to your home. Keep all the receipts for any emergency repairs you’ve made, but don’t throw away any items or equipment. Furthermore, do not begin permanent restoration or reconstruction until your insurance company gives you the go-ahead.

If your home is unlivable, find out what your insurance claim will cover regarding alternative lodging, meals, and more. Again, keep a careful record of these expenses so you can be reimbursed per your policy.

You’ll also want to ensure this damage never happens again, so it’s a good idea to address any water or drainage issues promptly. Urban Water Works can help. We have a reputation for doing timely work, are cost-competitive, and are willing to work with our customers to achieve the best solution to their drainage and water problems. For information about our inspection and/or repair services, call us at 604-790-8993