Insurance Claims for Water Damage

Broken water pipes inside walls may go without detection until major damage occurs.

Water can cause major damage to homes, businesses or other structures, even in small amounts. Broken pipes, improper drainage, storms or flooding are just a few examples of situations that can cause water damage that requires an insurance claim. Proper filing of a water damage insurance claim can help speed the claim process and provide the best settlement provided by the applicable policy.

Type

The first step in any water damage insurance claim is to determine the type of damage that occurred. Insurance policies address various losses differently and may dictate a specific claim process for each situation. For example, water damage caused by a leak in the roof may be handled differently from damage caused by a cracked swimming pool or broken sprinklers. Read over the applicable insurance policy carefully to identify the proper loss definition and how the policy handles your particular situation. Your insurance agent is a good resource for help with this step.

Coverage

Insurance coverage of water damage will depend on many variables, including the policy limits, restrictions, exemptions and type of damage. Insurance policies address each covered loss in detail and include the type and amount of coverage available. While some water damage, such as broken water pipes, may be easily identified, other situations may be more complicated. For example, water damage resulting from a backup of the sewer system is not covered by most standard homeowner policies. Understanding your policy coverages and limits will help with proper filing of a claim. Note that most homeowner's insurance policies do not cover flood damage; separate flood insurance is generally required.

Documentation

When preparing any insurance claim, proper documentation can be a major key to a successful claim. For a water damage claim, gather repair estimates, bills or receipts and make copies of each item. Make notes on documentation that may not be self-explanatory and include any other pertinent information. Photographs or video of the damage and/or repairs can provide an important visual aid to claims adjusters who have not seen the damage personally.

Claim

If possible, work with your insurance agent when filing a claim for water damage. Your agent can help with proper paperwork and advise you on how the claim will be processed. While a complete and properly completed claim can reduce the processing time, water damage claims may require insurance company inspections or assessments. Keep a file of your claim with copies of any documents submitted to the insurance company. A detailed log of communications can also be helpful for later reference.

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