This is one of the first questions homeowners should ask themselves when purchasing insurance for their home:
“Does the home contents insurance cover water damage?”
The answer they are given is “it depends” and so it is to understand what home insurance covers and what doesn’t. Read this story to learn what insurance generally protects.
You pay for home insurance because you have to take out a mortgage and hope you never have to get it. But a variety of diseases, natural or man-made, can enable you to claim property loss or damage. You hope the coverage you’ve been paying for over the years will expand to include the situation you’re dealing with, but you just never know.
Here, too, it depends.
Here’s what to do if you need to contact your insurance company because of property damage or damage to your home. Then you will learn what to do if your claim is denied.
But first, let’s look at all of the ways water can damage your home and the chances that your home insurance will cover your loss if so.
Does the home contents insurance cover water damage?
The answer to the question “Does the household contents insurance insure water damage?” Is complex, as is water damage.
In general, water damage caused by an accident or mechanical failure of an appliance (washing machine, dishwasher, kettle, etc.) is covered by standard policies. The same goes for a toilet that suddenly starts leaking.
However, if the water damage is due to poor maintenance, such as B. broken pipes, mold, or rotting pipes or plumbing, the claim is likely to be denied.
Water damage coverage is divided into housing damage and personal injury. The insurance does not cover the replacement of the device or machine that caused the water damage. If your dishwasher develops a sudden leak damaging your home, structural damage and personal property damage will likely be covered, but dishwasher replacement costs will not.
If your home suffers water damage from a clogged sewer or drain, traditional home insurance does not cover such occurrences. However, many companies offer water backup coverage.
Flood damage is rarely covered by normal household insurance. Flood insurance is available thanks to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), but it’s expensive.
According to the National Flood Insurance Program, the average cost of flood insurance for 2021 is $ 958 per year. That’s around $ 80 a month.
If you’re wondering if home insurance covers water damage? Check with your agent about what’s covered and what’s not, and whether you need to consider extended water damage coverage based on current climatic conditions or the age of your home.
Making a claim with the insurance company
If you haven’t yet made a claim against your home insurance but you know someone who has been denied and you are concerned about the merits of your own policy, take the time to reconsider your business and coverage decisions.
What follows is a simplified representation of what to do when filing a water damage claim through home insurance, including the ability to decline your claim and what to do if it is.
Step one: your home or property suffers water damage
If your home suffers water damage, you need to determine the actual extent of the damage and, if possible, how the damage was caused.
Then contact your insurance company to see if the damage is covered by your policy. This answer to that question is not short and sweet, but it is the starting point to help you recover some of your losses.
Step 2: take an inventory of what has been damaged
Take photos or videos of water damaged property, structures, or property (actually, it would be wise to take a video of your home now before the disaster so you can relate to the time after the disaster).
Try to determine the value of individual items in need of replacement and find receipts if you have them (which is actually easier these days as most purchases are made through some form of electronic transaction). If the damage is structural, damage appraisals and estimates will be required, but these will be made after the insurance company has agreed to pay.
Step 3: meeting the adjuster
The insurance company will assign you an appraiser who will eventually come to your home and assess the damage.
Don’t assume that this person is stopping you from covering your damages, but remember that the appraiser protects the interests of the insurance company to prevent fraudulent claims.
The appraiser needs a list of lost or damaged items with an estimated value of those items and assesses structural or property damage that requires estimates to determine repair costs. Compiling a list of the precious contents of your home is another thing you must do before disaster strikes.
Step 4: get the verdict Ver
The appraiser will eventually call you and give you a detailed list of what the company will cover, how much it will give you for your lost or damaged items, and what structural damage the company will pay to repair it. You may or may not like the dollar numbers the appraiser is offering.
You may also be surprised that the insurance company can reject all or part of your claim. This is where the insurance company covers its assets: it sets out in writing why it is rejecting your insurance claim. This letter should contain a full and specific explanation of why your policy does not cover the losses you are claiming.
If your policy specifically states that certain items or losses are excluded from your coverage, that is the end of the conversation. However, if you feel that your policy should cover the damage you suffered, speak to the agent who sold you the policy, if possible, or ask for a face-to-face interview with the appraiser to discuss the situation.
Proving that your policy covers your losses won’t be easy. However, if you have a different interpretation of the language in your policy than the appraiser suggests, or if you have notes from your original conversation with your agent at the time the policy was taken out, you can move on to the next step.
What does God have to do with it?
Most standard home contents insurance includes force majeure provision. From an insurance point of view, damage caused by natural causes without human components and which could not have been prevented by proper care or maintenance is considered force majeure.
Earthquakes or floods are often viewed as force majeure. Forest fires can also be considered force majeure if they are triggered by lightning rather than people (campfire, thrown cigarette and more).
The household contents insurances determine which higher powers are insured. For example, flooding is force majeure, although homeowners in flooded areas or near coastlines or lake shores can purchase flood insurance for an additional charge.
The usual household contents insurance often covers damage caused by strong winds caused by natural events such as hurricanes and tornadoes. If this is a potential factor in your claim, determine what your policy covers before moving on to the next large and expensive step.
The increased incidence of forest fires in the Pacific Northwest has made fire safety a must for homeowners in this region. But different companies offer different levels of coverage, and full coverage can be expensive.
How to tackle a rejected claim
You feel that your insurance company is not keeping its legal promise to cover the cost of water damage to your home. You have damage documentation, a detailed description of the damaging event (defective equipment or sanitary accident) and are able to represent your case financially.
In most cases, there is a limited period within which to appeal a denied insurance claim, and the period starts from the time you are informed of the denied claim.
Your homeowner’s insurance policy has wording on how to appeal a denied claim. Getting involved in a dispute with your insurance company may seem like a lost cause, but often insurance companies can be convinced to adjust their decision to your advantage.
You may want to improve your chances by consulting a property insurance expert. These are state-recognized experts who objectively assess your claim and negotiate for you with our insurance company. The decision on whether to hire a professional outside expert is based on the cost of his or her service versus the amount of money you are hoping for.
The final step in getting funds back is to sue your insurance carrier, which would require hiring an attorney who specializes in property insurance claims. Get testimonials and verifiable information on previous water damage that has been settled in favor of the homeowner.
We hope this helps, and you never need it.
Kent McDill is a seasoned journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor for The Penny Hoarder.