When a pipe burst, a drain backs up, a toilet overflows, or it rains so hard water finds its way into your home, it can be very stressful and disruptive to your life. The questions start pouring through your mind.

What do I do now?

Who do I call?

Do I have insurance for this?

Will insurance cover the claim?

It is essential that water damage is addressed timely and correctly to prevent further damage from occurring. The more you know about it, the better prepared you will be to address it. Here are a few things a homeowner should know about water damage

Review Insurance Policies You might think that water is water, whether it’s from flooding, a busted pipe, or a toilet overflow, but you would be wrong. Flood damage from outside your home is typically not covered under homeowner’s insurance, and you may require special flood insurance if you live in an area likely to experience flooding. Mold Remediation may not be covered either under your current policy, and many times, if you have any coverage at all, it is limited to $5000 or less. When you report the claim to the insurance company, you will want to specify whether the claim is for water damage or flood damage so they can begin adjusting your claim correctly.

It is highly recommended that you take the time to review your insurance policy and familiarize yourself with any exclusion to your water damage coverage. For instance, most policies cover “sudden damage” like water damage from a busted pipe or an overflowing washing machine. Conversely, the water damage that happens because you didn’t maintain the property or timely address the original water damage may be excluded as well as gradual leaks that caused water damage over time.

When Water Damage Occurs When water damage strikes, you do not have the luxury of waiting around for a convenient time to start the cleanup and drydown procedures. There are different categories of water, depending on the water source, as well as the amount of time the structure has been wet. The restorer needs to consider these things and may require some cautionary measures to be taken. For instance, fresh water from a sink that overflowed is handled much different than water coming from a sewer backup, which may contain harmful contaminants. Secondary damage from sitting unaddressed can

cause more expense, problems with gettings items covered under insurance, and potentially promote mold growth posing other health risks. Mold spores
need moisture and a food source to grow. And that is precisely what your wet carpet, drywall, and other building materials offer.

Time is of the Essence Your insurance company needs to know so It’s a good idea to call your insurance company right away when you discover water damage. Your insurance agent can start the claims process immediately, as well as guide you through the first steps you will need to take to protect your property from more damage. Your insurance company may direct you to a water damage restoration company that they have worked with in the past. However, you do not have to call the company that they recommend. You may choose any company that is qualified to restore your property for the insurance claim. I recommend using a company that has the proper credentials for water damage, such as a certification with the IICRC or Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration. Remember, the company you choose should have your best interests in mind and often times will take over the communications with your insurance adjuster to help ease the process. In the next issue, I will address in further detail the different categories or types of water and why the first 24 to 48 hours are critical in limiting secondary damage and health concerns. Water damage can be dangerous, and expensive and regular home maintenance and inspections can help reduce the exposure to water damage. Hopefully, you now have some basics on what to do if the unexpected happens
to you!