Water Loss Which Occures Over a Period of 14 or More Days
There is no other cause of loss with as many conditions, limitations, and exclusions as a water insurance loss, and for this reason water damage is sometimes denied. In Florida, many carriers completely deny coverage if they believe the water leak took place for more than 14 days. This particular situation has become a nightmare for many homeowners. As you read below, please notice how coverage for water damage has evolved. During the early part of this past decade, insurance companies started to limit water losses, which occurred over a period of more than 14 days. Many will argue the initial intent of this change was to address an abuse taking place within the industry. Insurers wanted to discourage the policyholder from claiming a known long term leak as a recent occurrence. Even if this were the initial reason for introducing new language into the policy, that original intent has been far surpassed. The policy language of today has evolved into a policyholder's nightmare. Some covered water losses are being routinely denied. How did we get to this place? To understand how we got here, you must first understand where we came from. While most policies of today, deny a water leak which occurs for over a period of more than 14 days, that was not always the case.
Water damage with no time restriction language
Older polices, such as a HO 00 03 04 91 introduced in 1991, did not clearly exclude a water loss caused by a long term leak. This policy may have not covered a claim when the damages were caused by rot, mold, corrosion, but the adjuster did not deny the claim using the words, "We do not insure a loss caused by constant or repeated seepage or leakage of water over a period of weeks, months, or years." This language was not contained in that policy but started to be introduced into the other policies years later.
Hidden water damage not known to the insured
Policies then started to exclude water damages, which occurred over a period of 14 or more days unless the leak was hidden within walls, ceilings, or floor and the resulting damage was unknown to the insured. See policy language below:"We insure against risk of direct loss to property described in Coverages A and B only if that loss is a physical loss to property. We do not insure, however, for loss: Caused by: ․ (e) Any of the following: ․ (9) Constant or repeated seepage or leakage of water or the presence or condensation of humidity, moisture or vapor, over a period of weeks, months or years unless such seepage or leakage of water or the presence or condensation of humidity, moisture or vapor and the resulting damage is unknown to all insureds and is hidden within the walls or ceilings or beneath the floors or above the ceilings of a structure.
Water damage which occurs over a period of 14 days.
Policies in the middle to late 2000's polices started to deny a water loss which occurred over a period of 14 or more days regardless of whether the damage was hidden or not. See the following language below
Constant or Repeated Seepage or Leakage "This policy does not include loss caused by constant or repeated seepage or leakage of water or steam, or the presence or condensation of humidity, moisture or vapor; which occurs over a period of 14 or more days, whether hidden or not. "
Water loss with mold over a period of time
Now in 2012, we as public adjusters must deal with this language.
1. We do not insure for loss caused directly or indirectly by any of the following. Such loss is excluded regardless of any other cause or event contributing concurrently or in any sequence to the loss.
l. Constant or repeated seepage or leakage of water or steam, or the presence or condensation of humidity, moisture or vapor; which occurs over a period of time, whether hidden or not and results in damage such as wet or dry rot, "fungi" deterioration, rust, decay or other corrosion
Thus, in 1991 if you had a leak which occurred over a period of more than 14 days, you may have been covered. In early part to 2000-2006, if your long term leak was hidden in the walls, ceiling, or floors, you most likely were covered. By 2007, if you had a leak hidden in the wall, and it appeared that the source was leaking for more than 14 days, you may have gotten your claim denied. Now in 2012 if you have a leak and it appears that the source has been leaking for more than 14 days and if there is the presence of mold, your claim can be denied. Insurers have systematically changed the language within the policy, and, in my opinion, the change in policy language has not been a benefit to the policyholder.