Water, fire and mold can impact a home in many different ways and leave the property owners with an expensive bill for remediation. Having insurance coverage can protect property owners from a large bill. However, policies are different and have a variety of protections and gaps depending on the plan. It is important for policy owners to know their coverages and exposures in their insurance policy.
File a claim quickly – Water, fire and mold damage can get worse if it is left unattended. Filing a claim starts the process with an insurance company and they will determine if the damage is covered. It is important to contact insurance right away as it may take time for them to send out an adjuster and make a determination. Fire damage claims can take longer if an investigation is required. Some types of damage will also have claim limits so it is important to know those limits when starting a restoration project.
Sudden ruptures or failures – Homeowners insurance covers sudden ruptures and failures of plumbing. This often comes in the form of a burst pipe or broken water line. These occurrences can create a large claim in a short period of time. Depending on the policy, repairing the broken plumbing can be the responsibility of the homeowner. Code upgrades may also be an expense for the homeowner depending on policy and extent of damage.
Accidental water damage – Homeowners insurance will often cover accidental water damage. This can come from a sink or bath overflowing and damaging the property. It is important to address issues with accidental water damage right away. In many cases, the water damage will be covered but any microbial growth from lingering damage will not be covered.
Mechanical failures – A sudden failure of an appliance is often covered by a home insurance policy. Some appliances have warranties that cover damage. If your appliance is being installed by a professional company, ask about their coverage period after installation. In some instances the insurance company will investigate the broken appliance to determine coverage.
Leaks – This is an area where coverage will depend on the specific policy. Slow leaks from a pipe, plumbing or water line will be covered by some policies and not covered by others. Slow leaks can linger for a long time before damage is noticed. This can result in a large bill, especially if the slow leak occurs inside a wall or in a crawlspace or attic. Slow leaks often develop microbial growth which makes the restoration project more expensive.
Microbial growth – Microbial growth can often be outside of a homeowners insurance policy. Policies may also have a coverage limit when it comes to microbial growth. Mold remediation work can result in a large bill. This might be an area where homeowners want to extend their policies coverage or up limits.
External water source – Water damage coming from outside the home is a common exclusion from policies. Water coming from a flood or through a foundation crack is a typical out-of-pocket expense when it comes to water damage. Separate flood insurance may need to be purchased to have coverage from these sources.
Sewer backup – Sewer damage resulting from a backup is another common policy exclusion. Coverage can be denied for a lack of maintenance (tree roots growing through lines is a common cause) or because it originated from an outside source (city main line). Like microbial growth, additional coverage or increasing limits for sewer damage can be an important discussion to have when deciding or changing an insurance policy.
Roof damage – A water intrusion coming from roof damage is often covered under a home insurance policy. Damage from hail or ice dams can lead to water damage in the ceiling or attic. In most cases, the roof damage will need to be inspected by an adjuster.
Review your home insurance policy and find coverage gaps – It is important to know where gaps exist in a policy. This allows the policy holder to add additional coverage and avoid any surprises when dealing with water damage.
Renters insurance – If you are renting, do you know what would happen to your personal items if they were damaged by water or fire? In most cases, a renter policy will protect your belongings. The property owner will have insurance for the rental property and this will not cover the personal items of the renter, just the structure itself. So having a solid renter insurance policy will protect your valuables.