Need a little more stress in your life? Probably not. So, when a stressful event like water damage in your home occurs, one way you can dial down the tension is to use the best possible approach to handling the aftermath.
Since there are so many ways that water can damage your basement or home, being prepared and knowing what to say is vital.
In our previous blog posts, we have discussed the importance of preparing a home inventory, the importance of choosing your water damage restoration company before disaster strikes, knowing what your policy covers and taking protective action to make sure your home doesn’t suffer further damage. Let’s take a look at some other ways to make your claim more successful and problem free.
Water damage and flooding are different things, so don’t say “flood” or “flooded”
This is one of those “better safe than very, very sorry” tips. Most insurance companies won’t play games and pretend that when a pipe burst in your basement it was the same as the Mississippi River overflowing its banks and submerging your whole region. However, no standard homeowner insurance policy covers floods, so protect yourself by making sure you don’t describe any water flow or damage as a flood, flooding or the consequence of a flood. Even if your insurer bows to common sense eventually, a challenge might take months, leaving you to take care of bills you should have already been reimbursed for.
Be careful what you clean up
This tip is related to the one above. If there’s clear evidence that your damage was caused by an accident, storm damage, etc., leave it in place if possible. You’ll have to balance this with the need to “mitigate loss” by preventing further damage, but don’t create a situation where what caused the damage is your word against the adjuster’s. If you have to move something or repair it, take a photo as proof, which leads us to…
Take lots of photos
In the smart phone age, this one is easier than ever. Document the damage carefully, as well as your efforts to reduce the loss. You can expect the insurance adjuster to take plenty of pictures as well; the combination will tell the whole story. Even better, if these “after” photos can be compared to “before” photos from the photographic home inventory you took, it will strengthen your case if there’s a dispute over how much something was damaged or what shape it was in before the incident. If in doubt, snap a picture.
Fully document any involvement by others
If your water damage was caused by the actions or negligence of another person — say, your new water heater blew a fitting or an upstairs neighbor had a burst pipe — document what happened and their vital information. You’ll want their name, contact information, insurance company name and policy number, contractor license number, etc. Get the license number and (if possible) VIN and insurance information of any vehicle that caused the water flow or was damaged by it. If others caused the water damage, their insurance will naturally be responsible for paying for it, so you may get your deductible back from your carrier.
Know what you can expect for temporary housing
Either well in advance of a disaster or during the first call to your insurer’s claim department, find out what your insurance company will pay for meals and temporary housing (hotel, etc.) if you have to leave your home while your damage restoration company does its work. Often, this “loss of use” compensation will be capped at 20% of your total coverage, but be sure you have a firm number from your carrier. Keep detailed records of what you spend from when you evacuate to when you return home.
Prevent rather than react
Prevention of water damage to your home comes in many forms. There are several benefits and reasons to waterproof your basement which can in some cases prevent water coming into your home. Properly maintaining your sump pump is also essential to keeping the lower levels of your home dry.
Unfortunately, not all water damages can be prevented. So the best prevention often is just having a ready plan, knowing how to react after damage occurs to your home, and being familiar with a water damage restoration company like ReNew. One of the benefits of working with a seasoned veteran like ReNew is that we will walk you through the claim process, and even work directly with your insurance carrier. We’ve worked with all different insurance companies in the past and even have insurance experts on staff to help you through the claim process, in addition to the water extraction and restoration process.
Following these tips might make that claim check from the friendly folks at your insurance company bigger, and it will certainly make getting it anxiety-free.