Dealing with water damage to your home, apartment, or business can be very stressful and unnerving! One of the biggest questions on anyone’s mind in such a crisis is surely, “Will my insurance cover this??”. Well, we’re here to give you an overview answer on that today.
We’re Cleaner Guys, a professional water damage restoration company. We deal with insurance companies and insurance claims about water damage every day! Here’s the inside scoop on what you need to know.
Is Water Damage Covered By Insurance?
Most of the time, yes, water damage is covered by insurance. But there are some situations in which it is not, and awareness of those instances is crucial.
According to this article from Allstate, most insurance policies will cover water damage if it is sudden and/or accidental. This might include an overflowing toilet or sink, a burst pipe, or a sudden appliance breakage or leak.
The instances of water damage NOT covered by insurance policies usually include negligence and natural disasters like flooding.
An example of negligence would be leaving a window open while on vacation, allowing rain in that damaged anything inside. Failing to address a leak even when you’re aware of it is also negligence. Insurance rarely covers negligence like this. As for flooding, according to Allstate, there is hope! You can potentially purchase flood insurance through a foundation such as the National Flood Insurance Program. Regular insurance typically does not cover any of these water damage situations.
Disclaimer: We are not an insurance company. We are a water damage restoration company that has worked with insurance companies about water damage for decades. Be sure to ask your insurance provider directly about what their policies are for water damage.
Our Experience With Water Damage and Insurance
Dealing with insurance can be one of the most frustrating parts of going through property damage restoration. It can be hard to determine for certain if your insurance will cover your loss! Unfortunately, nowadays that’s often because many insurance adjusters will never even visit the home or business where the damage occurred!
Even if never visiting the damaged home saves the adjuster time, it makes determining the coverage needed much more difficult. The adjuster reporting back to the insurance office often doesn’t have a truly solid understanding of the damage, because they haven’t even seen it themselves. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, sure. But in this case, it can cost a property owner a lot of wasted time and money. Even refusal of coverage!
A Mistake That Can Prevent You Getting Coverage…
During one Cleaner Guys job in Anacortes, we were already in the midst of mitigation when we received word that the homeowner had just discovered that their insurance might not cover the loss at all! Work briefly stopped so that they could reevaluate the project cost, now that they might be the ones paying the bill. The technicians and manager on site doing the work were very surprised to hear that coverage was in question. But when we started to ask questions, we found the issue that was keeping the homeowner from getting insurance coverage!
The property owner had called a plumber to stop the leak. The plumber threw away the damaged pipe section. In any normal situation, it’s perfectly acceptable — and even expected — that the plumber will take the trash out. But in the case of insurance claims, this was a huge mistake! You must show the insurance company proof of the source of the damage to get coverage, since the actual cause of the loss is the key factor in determining coverage. Without the ruptured pipe section, our client was not able to produce sufficient evidence for their claim! So the adjuster moved to deny coverage.
Fortunately, in this case, supplying other documentation as proof of the cause of damage resolved the situation. The homeowner got coverage, and Cleaner Guys completed the work for the client, earning a raving 5-star review! The client was grateful to have had an advocate in this difficult situation, over and above fixing their home.
Be Careful About Presuming Anything
Sometimes, homeowners assume that their water damage will not be covered, and don’t even bother to call their insurance company. This is always a mistake! Even if you did your research and don’t believe you’ll be covered, you never know if you missed something that could qualify you!
Cleaner Guys responded to this type of situation on a job where a sump pump discharge pipe failed, resulting in substantial damage to the crawlspace and a basement area. Each time the sump pump turned on to pump water out of a drywell in the crawlspace, water sprayed everywhere.
The property owner was familiar with their insurance policy and knew that it did not cover damage from groundwater. Therefore, they didn’t even bother calling their insurance carrier!
Cleaner Guys had already initiated Phase 1 clean-up work when the client asked about how much the repair was going to cost. This was the first we’d learned that the owner wouldn’t be using insurance. So, we put together a ballpark estimate of what we thought it would cost to do the clean-up, structural drying and repair work. With discretion, we asked what the basis was for the denial of coverage, since in our experience it would be a covered loss. Our client explained that they did not call insurance because their policy had a groundwater exclusion. We then offered our professional advice on the situation, encouraging our client to at least call their insurance and explain the damage.
We believed the client’s insurance would likely cover them because although groundwater was impacting the building, it did not involve uncontrolled groundwater entering from outside. This is usually what such an exclusion refers to. In this instance, the reason groundwater was in the building was because of the failure of a plumbing device inside the house, not uncontrolled groundwater from outside.
We recommended that the client contact their insurance agent to discuss the parameters of coverage on their policy.
If you purchased insurance through an agent/agency, we always highly recommend asking any questions about your insurance policy directly to the agent who sold it. Most of the time, the agent will be a good advocate for the policyholder. They aim for their client to be satisfied with the purchased insurance product. This is a great argument for buying insurance locally from someone you can go and talk to.
In this specific situation, our hunch was correct. The damage to the house did not fall under the groundwater exclusion, because the water came from inside the house, from a sytem designed to process build-up of ground water. In a sense, this is no different than a washing machine failure. Our client successfully opened a claim and had their policy cover the damages!
These two stories from our professional experience as a water damage restoration company highlight two key points. One, thorough documentation of the cause of your damage may be the difference between getting insurance coverage, and not getting any. Secondly, don’t assume whether or not your damage may be covered! Always call and ask.
Understanding the ins and outs of insurance coverage of water damage can be complex. But in this article, we hope you’ve found some solid answers to start your journey off right. Best of luck!
And remember, if you need water damage restoration anywhere in Western Washington, like Mount Vernon, Bellingham, Anacortes, Everett, or anywhere in that region, call Cleaner Guys! We’re the only restoration company around that boasts award-winning customer service, and we’d love to take care of you. Call 360-757-4300 today.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. No part of this article is medical or legal advice, and may not be used as such. For all serious medical matters, consult your doctor. For all serious legal matters, consult your legal advisor. This article contains Cleaner Guys’ experience and opinions only.