Water damage claims: What a homeowner should do

Water, water, everywhere and not a phone to call the agent. If water invades your home, find a phone. Making that call probably shouldn’t be the first act after discovering the water, but it shouldn’t be delayed past the end of the day. The quicker an agent knows of the crisis, the quicker he or she is able to respond to a water damage claim.

First of all, if the water in the basement or coursing through the kitchen is the result of a nearby creek or river rising out of its banks, you could have a problem. The problem arises when homeowners have not purchased flood insurance. Most home insurance does not incorporate coverage for flooding. It is a separate policy, so make sure you have one.

Conversely, if a sodden floor is the result of a long-term leak from a pipe that wasn’t detected for a relatively long time, another problem presents itself: Some insurance policies don’t cover such damage on the theory that a homeowner has been negligent. The moral of this is actually two morals: (1) Know what your policy covers and make it fit your situation, and (2) regularly examine the pipes and wires in your home to avoid deleterious damage.

If the living room is drenched because a straight wind sent debris through the picture window or ripped off part of the roof and inundated the interior with rain, several reactions are appropriate. First, don’t be walking around in the soggy carpet and switching on lights or other electrical equipment. Electrocution is a tragic follow-up to storm damage.

Then immediately begin to remove water-soaked rugs, furniture, and mementos, exposing both wall and floor. The idea is to facilitate mopping up of water and then drying of the soaked wood and drywall. Such work might not salvage any of the wall or floor but it does give water in the material the chance to evaporate and otherwise leech away. This cuts down on the chance for wholesale mold, which can lead to additional health risks and clean-up costs. In this way, some water damage claims can be mitigated.

Nothing about water clean-up is happy, but methodically getting it done will let your insurance company become a partner in the process.

by Morgan Moran

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