Water damage is the second most frequent type of insurance damage claim filed in the US and can be extremely expensive and time-consuming to repair. There are a variety of potential causes of water damage to residential and business properties, including frozen or leaking pipes, roof leaks, broken appliances, plumbing and insulation issues. It is also the most rapidly growing type of insurance claim, with billions of dollars lost in property damages every year. Therefore, it is crucial to be informed of the proper procedures to follow in the event of water damage to your property.
In Texas, most standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover the peril of flooding. Therefore, it is extremely important to purchase a separate flood policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), especially if you live in a flood prone area. Many other exclusions exist, but homeowners policies may cover certain events such as sewer or drain backup, sudden and accidental discharge of water from a plumbing, heating, or A/C system, or mold remediation. It is essential to review and understand all of your insurance policies provisions, limits of coverage and exclusions to determine what will be covered.
After a flood or water leak:
1) Stop the flow of water by either turning off the appliance or sealing the source of the water discharge. Remove any pools and begin drying the area in order to prevent further damage.
2) Take pictures/videos for documentation and evidence of all damages. This is important if any urgent repairs need to be performed at your own expense before the insurance company can investigate the claim.
3) Remove all wet items, including carpeting and rugs, and place in a safe location for drying.
4) If the water leak or water damage is extensive and cannot be removed and dried quickly, you may need to hire a professional service that specializes in water removal. Maintain all copies of receipts in order to be reimbursed by your insurance company.
The next step is to file an insurance claim immediately. It is important to be prepared with the policy number and documentation of the damages, including pictures and videos. As discussed above, this should be performed before any repairs are made. If anything is removed from the property, do not discard it until the insurance adjuster has inspected it. It is important to protect your property from further damage by making all necessary repairs, but do not make any structural repairs without first receiving authorization from the insurance company. Maintain copies of all receipts as well as a written log of all communications with any member of the insurance company, including name of the person, time, date and what was discussed. You must also maintain all copies of letters and documents exchanged between you and the company.