Water damage is among the most common and costly disasters that can strike your home or business. From flooded basements to burst pipes, there are several water-related issues that may require professional assistance to restore your property. Depending on the extent of the damage, this type of restoration work can be quite costly. Fortunately, home or business owners in the United States are covered under the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program.
This insurance program provides coverage for a variety of losses, including water damage caused by floods, rainwater leakage and other sources of water damage. While coverage varies depending on where you live, homeowners insurance typically covers a basic water damage restoration claim. In this article, you’ll learn more about what to do when you need to file a water damage insurance claim.
1. THE FIRST STEP IN FILING A WATER DAMAGE CLAIM IS TO WAIT FOR DIRECTIONS FROM YOUR INSURER.
Your first step when filing a claim for water damage is to check with your insurance agent regarding how to proceed. Your insurance provider will often provide you with information about how to complete your claim and what forms you will need to fill out, such as a “damage assessment request” or “claim application.” You should also expect to hear from your insurance company after a loss occurs, and this will help you establish your claim as soon as possible.
2. GATHER YOUR DOCUMENTS TO SUPPORT YOUR CLAIM.
As part of the insurance claim process, homeowners and business owners may need to provide documentation regarding their losses. For example, you might need to provide receipts for repairs and cleaning costs, photos documenting the damage, or copies of estimates and invoices related to property repairs. In some cases, an inspection report may be necessary as well.
3. NOTIFY YOUR INSURER IF YOU PLAN TO HIRE A PRIVATE RESTORATION COMPANY TO ASSIST WITH THE RECOVERY PROCESS.
If you hire a private restoration company to assist with your property cleanup and repairs, then you will also likely need to notify your insurer about this additional service agreement. If this is the case, it’s important for you to ask about any potential conflicts of interest that could arise from having two different companies working on your property loss claims at the same time.
4. YOU MAY NEED TO FILL OUT PROOF OF LOSS FORMS AND APPLY FOR ADDITIONAL INSURANCE COVERAGE IF YOU EXPERIENCE A SIGNIFICANT LOSS DUE TO A WATER DAMAGE EVENT.
If you experience significant water damage as a result of a storm or flooding event, then you may need to prove that the flood or storm caused your loss. Typically, homeowners insurance does not cover losses caused by storms or floods unless they have been specifically detailed in your policy terms and conditions. You may therefore have to seek coverage through a federal disaster relief program like the National Flood Insurance Program or apply for additional coverage through an umbrella policy in order to receive compensation for these types of losses.
5. HAVE YOUR REPAIRS AND CLEANING WORK DONE BY EXPERIENCED PROFESSIONALS WHO CAN QUALIFY FOR A DISASTER RECOVERY CERTIFICATION NUMBER (CRN).
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a certification called “Disaster Recovery” (CR) numbers for property restoration professionals who demonstrate expertise in dealing with losses caused by water damage and other types of disasters. These professionals must pass an exam before being eligible for CR certifications, which can help expedite the claims process when dealing with FEMA and other insurance providers involved in your recovery efforts.
6. IT IS BEST TO AVOID MAKING ANY MONEY-SPENDING DECISIONS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING A LOSS DUE TO WATER DAMAGE UNLESS YOU HAVE YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY’S APPROVAL TO DO SO.
This suggestion is especially important if you are planning to purchase new furniture or appliances as part of your recovery efforts since these purchases could affect the value of your settlement offer from your insurance provider down the line. Your insurer may also help you find temporary accommodations while your home is being repaired, so it’s best not to rush into any decisions about permanent housing until after your claims are completed and finalized in order to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes later on down the line.
7. YOU MAY ALSO NEED TO PROVIDE PROOF THAT PROPER PRECAUTIONS WERE TAKEN TO PROTECT YOUR HOME FROM WATER DAMAGE AND OTHER HAZARDS BEFORE THE LOSS OCCURRED–SUCH AS HAVING A BASEMENT SUMP PUMP INSTALLED OR USING A CHIMNEY CAP ON YOUR HOME’S FIREPLACE IN ORDER TO PREVENT FLOODING AND FIRE HAZARDS AS A RESULT OF WATER DAMAGE OR STORM DAMAGE TO YOUR PROPERTY.
8. IN SOME CASES, IT MAY BE NECESSARY TO PROVIDE PROOF THAT YOUR PROPERTY WAS NOT UNDER ANY CURRENT SUSPICIOUS CONDITIONS AT THE TIME OF THE WATER DAMAGE OCCURRENCE—SUCH AS EVIDENCE THAT YOU DID NOT HAVE ANY WATER-RELATED DEFECTS OR FLAWS WITHIN YOUR HOME AT THE TIME OF ITS LOSSES DUE TO WATER DAMAGE OR OTHER EMERGENCY SITUATIONS AT THE IMPACTED LOCATION WHERE THE DRAMATIC LOSSES OCCURRED THROUGHOUT THE ADVERSE CIRCUMSTANCES OR INCIDENTS RELATED TO YOUR WATER DAMAGE EVENT OR DISASTER TYPE OF INCIDENT(S).
HOW WILL I KNOW IF MY INSURER WILL COVER MY LOSSES?
In most cases, homeowners insurance policies offer basic water damage coverage through their liability policies without having any special endorsements.
It’s often best to contact your insurance provider to confirm what type of damage is covered in your policy. In the event that your losses are not covered, you may need to purchase an add-on policy or consider a different insurance provider with more comprehensive coverage for water damage losses.
WHAT IF MY HOME IS NOT CURRENTLY INSURED?
You can still file a claim for water damage and receive compensation from your insurance provider to help with your losses, but you will likely have to pay all of your damages upfront and then hope that your claims are accepted and approved. In some cases, you may need to file a lawsuit against the person or entity who was responsible for causing the damages in order to receive compensation, especially if there were no witnesses or other evidence that could help prove who was at fault for the damages.
Talk with a property insurance agent about how much your home or business is currently worth, and this information can help you determine what you stand to lose if your property suffers significant losses due to water damage. If you are looking for an insurance provider who specializes in water damage claims, then consider contacting an agency like Friendly Hills Restoration. This company offers services and solutions to help homeowners restore their properties after a loss, including emergency response services and property repairs.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR A LOSS ASSISTANCE CLAIM NUMBER?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for providing assistance to people who have experienced damages related to a flood or storm event. In most cases, homeowners may be eligible for certain types of assistance depending on the nature of the losses they have experienced.
Once your property has been inspected by a licensed professional and you have filled out a “loss assessment request” form, you can submit it to FEMA along with documentation that proves you are eligible for compensation. Keep in mind that this process can take several weeks or months before you receive an official determination regarding whether or not you are eligible for assistance.
In some situations, you may also need to apply for additional assistance through the National Flood Insurance Program if the damages are related to flooding caused by storms or other extreme weather-related events.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECEIVE COMPENSATION FOR LOSSES CAUSED BY WATER DAMAGE?
The length of time it takes to complete a water damage insurance claim will typically depend on three factors:
1. The extent of the property damage caused by the loss event.
If your home has sustained minimal damage, then you may be able to complete your recovery efforts more quickly than someone whose home has had more extensive damage from a similar loss event.
2. The complexity of the restoration process.