Water damage is one of the top cited claims on home insurance. This should not come as a surprise considering the many possible causes of water damage – heavy rain, broken pipes and lines, leaking roof and bathtub/sinks overflowing. After making sure you, and those you live with, are safely out of harm’s way, here are some important items to think about if you experience water damage in your home.
- Stop the flow of water. If the flooding has been caused by a pipe burst or a water heater failure, you will need to shut off the main water line to your home. This valve is usually in the basement or on an outside wall in a utility area of the house. Get in touch with an expert immediately if you cannot find where the water intrusion is located.
- Turn off the power. If your home is flooded, turn off the electricity and gas from the main source—this isn’t as essential for small leaks or puddles, but for larger flooded areas turn them off to be safe. Do not handle electrical appliances that have been compromised by water unless wearing proper insulated safety clothing and equipment. If you have to stand in water to turn off the main electricity, consult with an electrician.
- Once the main water supply has been shut off, locate the actual source of the leak. Normally you can follow the trail of water. The most common and leak prone areas are faucet and toilet connections, water heater connections, and refrigerator icemaker lines.
- Choose a restoration company. For the dry-out and restoration work, insist on an experienced, knowledgeable company, like NCRI that has been in business for 42 years. Standards for water loss restoration are constantly revised. You should insist that the work completed meets the most current industry standards. If your loss goes unmitigated you run the risk of secondary damages occurring, such as mold. Should mold or mildew be present, the restoration cost and cost to settle the claim can rise significantly. Don’t always settle for the cheapest company. Sometimes, a cheap price tag is accompanied with poor work quality. Make sure you always ask for job references.
- Call your insurance agent. The sooner that you get in contact with an insurance agent, the sooner your claim can be processed. Your protection will depend on your coverage, and your insurance agent will be able to get the process started. Unlike popular belief, it is the homeowner’s choice to choose what company they would like. It is your home and your responsibility to make sure you have a trusted company that will do the work correctly.
Two Tidbits to Think About…
- When preparing your claim, do not exaggerate or inflate numbers. If you do not have proper documentation or an accurate idea about replacement costs, avoid estimating the value on your own. An inflated insurance claim submitted to the insurance company can appear very obvious and can result in a lower settlement than expected.
- If you’ve never had to deal with a loss of this magnitude—you are lucky. But, do not wait until a disaster occurs to become familiar with your insurance policy since you can’t plan for losses on your property. As a policyholder, you should have an understanding of your coverage to protect yourself if anything should happen.