Do you know what your home insurance policy covers? If you’re like the average homeowner, you probably think your policy covers the “basics” like fire damage, earthquakes, trees falling on your roof, and other stuff. Logically, you’d think water damage is also included since it’s a regular and normal threat to the average homeowner, right? Well, you might be surprised at just how complex water damage coverage can actually be. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t realize their home might not be protected like they thought until it’s too late.
Water Damage vs. Flood Damage
Most homeowner’s insurance policies include coverage for “water damage,” which has a very specific definition: water that hits your home before it touches the ground. Yes, it is that specific. What this means is your home is protected from damage that may occur as a result of normal rainfall, such as a leaky roof rotting the wood in your attic, forcing you to have to completely replace your roof. This also includes broken pipes, so damage to your floors, walls, furniture, and other property as a result of a plumbing emergency should also be covered.
However, this does not cover floods or the damage that can occur as a result. Homeowner’s insurance companies often consider things like water damage from the foundation, groundwater, or improper drainage to be “flood damage,” and therefore don’t cover them on a general homeowner’s insurance policy. This also doesn’t usually cover mold that grows because of these accidents. This can be a massive financial loss; FEMA estimates that just six inches of water flooding can cause $20,000 in damage.
Getting a Repair
How can you protect yourself and make sure you’re covered if the worst happens? First of all, the best option to avoid the headache of flood damage is to avoid it all together. Make sure your defensive efforts are in good working condition, such as your sump pump in your basement. Regularly inspect your home for signs of water intrusion and damage, particularly around the outside of your home along the ground. Second, make sure your drainage is free and clear of blockages, and that your rain gutters are working to their full capacity.
Second, check with your insurance to see what is and is not covered. If you live in a high-risk area, such as down in a valley or at the bottom of a grade, you might want to consider purchasing flood insurance. Flood insurance will generally help you repair the foundation of your home, your electrical and plumbing systems, replace your damaged flooring, carpeting, furniture, and paneling, remove the debris caused by flooding, and even replace your built-in appliances that become damaged. Ask your insurance company about these policies to find out if they offer them, since bundling them in with your existing insurance may not cost a lot more. If they don’t or the cost is too high, you may be able to find a low-cost alternative by using the Flood Smart website, run by FEMA.
Finally, because Florida is so prone to tropical storms and major hurricanes, you’ll want to make sure your procedures are completely in place for the event your home is hit hard by mother nature and sustains serious damage. Check with your insurance company to learn about their policy regarding hurricane damage and how you should proceed when you do need to make a claim. Insurance companies are inundated with claims after hurricanes, so the process may be complex. However, you should always make sure your claim is handled with the professionalism and urgency it deserves.
What to Do If Your Home Is Damaged
If you do sustain serious water damage to your home, the first thing you should do is see if you can figure out the cause of this damage. If you know for a fact your basement flooded as a result of a broken pipe, or something else that would be covered as “water damage,” you should immediately file a claim with your insurance company. Take pictures of the damage to record everything that was lost in order to make your claim proceed smoother.
If you’re not sure whether or not the damage is covered, it’s still worth filing a claim anyway and having a field adjustor inspect the damage to see if they can determine the cause. You may also want to have a public adjustor check the damage as well as a neutral third-party.
When you do file a claim, make sure you ask about any time requirements or stipulations which require restoration work to be completed by a certain time. Sometimes insurance companies require restoration to be completed within a deadline in order to reduce the chances of mold developing and making a claim more expensive.If your home has experienced serious water damage, either through flood or through serious weather, the experts at Flood Pro’s USA can help! Call us today at (941) 234-0028 to request an estimate or get the help you need after an emergency.