What to do after a Water loss
Many water losses happen suddenly but damages can be extensive and long lasting. A simple water loss can turn into a full blown mold disaster within just a few days. In most instances, it is the policyholder's responsibility to mitigate the loss. If you need to hire someone to assist you in mitigating your loss, do so. Most insurance policies will pay for reasonable cost to clean and dryout your property if your policy provides for damages caused by water. Unfortunately, even if the claim is not covered, you are still required to take steps to stop, fix, or remove the source of the loss, such a broken water pipe and to keep additional damage from taking place.
Determine if any of the following suggests apply to your situation.
Turn off the power.
First, you should turn off power to any to the rooms that sustained water damage, but if your breaker box is in a room with water on the floor, call a professional to perform this task.
Turn off the source of the water loss. This can be accomplished in more than one way. You can turn off the main shut off valve coming into your home, but that will shut off the water to the entire house. Broken pipes within a wall or under the slab usually require shutting off this main water valve. Supply lines under sinks, dishwashers, ice makers, and the hot water heater can usually be turned off by an inline water valve. Call a plumber if you cannot stop the water. Your policy requires you to protect the property from further damage.
Remove personal property from the wet areas.
If your furniture has not yet been damage, have it moved. Wipe off any personal property that did get wet. Don't leave the legs of wood furniture sitting on the wet carpet; they sometimes cause carpet stains that cannot be removed. Some property such as mattresses will require professional drying if it absorbed moisture in a water soaked room.
Clean up the water.
If there is a lot of water, call a professional for help. If the cost is reasonable, most insurance companies will pay for water mitigation services without question. Most water extraction companies will want you to sign a contact. If you only want this company to dry out your home and not to perform the rebuild, read the contract before you sign. Some companies routinely include authorization to both dry out and repair the damages on the same authorization form. You do not want to learn later that you authorized a company to repair your home and then find your claim has been denied by your insurance company.
Dry out the wet rooms.
This is best done by a professional. Many times it will involve the use of dehumidifiers and fans. Back in the good old days, carpet was pulled and the padding discarded. Some extraction companies are now using a deep extraction method to remove water from the carpet and pad. This method leaves the carpet in place and uses a "super vacuum" which pulls the water from both the pad and the carpet. Companies that utilize this method swear by it, and save your insurance company money. I still have the following questions: Has the water been removed from the area behind the baseboard? Is the slab under the padding in this water damaged room, as dry as the slab in the rooms which had no water damage? Remember, moisture many times will lead to mold. On the other hand, some insurance companies may ask why you incurred cost to dry out a damaged or stained carpet which will need to be discarded later. There are just too many variables to consider about this subject. Give AA Florida Public Adjusting Agency a call to talk about your claim.
Call your insurance company and report the loss.
Your policy requires that you promptly report a loss. Your claim can be denied for failing to comply with this requirement. Initially, you may think your claim is small, and you do not need to involve the insurance company. Many homeowners do not want to report any claim for fear of being dropped, but sometimes the full severity of a water loss does not show up until later. If your insurance company feels their ability to inspect the loss has been compromised due to late reporting, they may deny your claim. If your claim has been denied for this reason, give me a call; I may still be able to help. Docuument your loss by pictures.
Know your policy Coverage.
Is a water loss covered under your policy? First if your policy is Homeowners HO3 policy, the short answer is yes if it is not excluded. Most policies are written in such a way that they allow general coverage for a Cause of Loss, and then exclude or limit payment for that cause of loss. For instance, most HO3 policies cover water damage from a leaking pipe, but some exclude coverage if the damage from the leaking pipe happened over a period of weeks, months, or years. Then other policies will exclude coverage for this same reason but return coverage back if the pipe is hidden in the wall and the leak is unknown to any of the insured.
If you have purchased a Dwelling Policy such as a DP1, you most likely do not have coverage for a water loss. A DP-1 is a Named Peril policy and is usually written Actual Cash Value basis. Are you confused yet? See why you may want to give me a call.
Some policies require that the insurance company send out their dryout company to mitigate the loss. You need to know what your policy requires.