You come home after the holiday or after a day at work to your home in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and you find it flooded. There is water everywhere and you realize that many appliances, sections of flooring, and pieces of furniture are compromised. Once your first wave of panic is over, you wonder: will my insurance company pay if I file a water damage claim? The answer depends on your insurance policy, but also (in some cases) on the assistance of an experienced attorney. A water damage attorney at VG Law is always prepared to look into your case if you have a home insurance claim denied.

We also know that you should not be on your own when dealing with an insurance agent who comes to inspect the flood damage in your home. Despite being a diligent policyholder, who pays their monthly premiums on time, your insurance provider puts their profit first. This is why you should consider talking to a lawyer before you file a claim against your homeowners insurance policy. We can help determine the type of water damage you suffered, look over the events covered by your policy, and assist you with filing the claim.

The Challenges of Filing a Water Damage Insurance Claim in Florida

Our state has a humid climate and is prone to hurricanes. Moreover, many Florida homes are old and still have their original cast iron pipes. For this reason, insurance coverage of water damage is rarely included in standard policies, and insurers make definite efforts to completely exclude it from any future standard homeowners insurance policy.

One of the most important aspects in determining whether the homeowners insurance claim will be successful is the type of water damage your home suffered:

  • heavy rain
  • frozen pipes
  • sink, toilet, or sewer backup
  • water heater pipe bursts

The fact is that insurers and homeowners policies differentiate the source of the water damage: from inside your home or from outside your home. Thus, before you file a claim for water damage, you need to determine the cause and document it with photos and videos.

The fact is that for any type of water damage from outside the home, you need to purchase a separate policy for flood insurance. Actually, you should strive to get any form of supplementary insurance against accidental water damage, since it is such a high risk in our state. Any extra type of coverage will cost you more, it is true. But the replacement costs for damaged items from mold growth or standing water are definitely going to be higher if you lack the necessary type of policy, preventing you from filing a claim successfully. You should inquire if you qualify for the National Flood Insurance Program for this type of coverage.

What to Do in Order to Get a Claim Settlement for a Water Damage Event

Let us now focus on the claims process and your actions as soon as you have discovered damages by an overflow of water or water flow from outside your home. Water damage claims start with your insurance policy. You need to find it as soon as possible and determine the type of policy and limits of coverage.

Next, you should proceed as follows:

1. Document the Property Damage

You should take photos and videos of all the personal property deteriorated by water damage. This includes:

  • growth of mold
  • structural damage to the house
  • water leaks visible under pipes and on walls
  • water and mold damage to furniture, flooring, carpets, and appliances

2. Notify the Insurance Company

Homeowners insurance companies require policyholders to call or notify them otherwise as soon as possible, in order to open the claims process and send an insurance adjuster to evaluate the damages. You should leave everything untouched until the insurance representative arrives, with the exception of:

  • trying to mitigate the damages by turning off water or preventing it from entering the house
  • making temporary repairs to secure your home
  • separating personal property not affected by flood in order to protect it from the spread of mold spores and other types of damages

3. Hire Specialists to Remove Water from Your Home

Whether you suffered water damage from rain, dishwasher leaks, or burst pipe, you should hire a licensed plumber and a water removal contractor to get water out of your home and fix the source of the leak. You must remember that any permanent repairs should be performed by licensed professionals. Otherwise, you may be accused of insurance fraud if you try to recover costs with unlicensed work or get your policy canceled.

You should do this as soon as possible to prevent additional damage, as well as gradual water damage in hidden places (under the drywall, in the basement, etc.). Any kind of water damage can totally compromise wood floor, carpeting, and your valuable furniture if a roof leak or gradual leaks from broken pipes are not solved.

3. Determine If You Can Continue Living in the Home

Flood water damage may make your home unsuitable and unsafe to live in until all damages are fixed. This will mean additional living expenses if you cannot stay with family members or friends, but your family's safety comes first.

Before you leave, you should make sure that your home is secure against intruders, by covering any openings, such as:

  • broken windows
  • damaged doors
  • holes in the roof

Make sure to take photos of these measures to secure your home and the temporary repairs you performed. You will need to show them to the claims adjuster when they come to inspect the flood-related damages after a heavy rainstorm or the water damage caused by plumbing fixtures.

4. Meet with the Insurance Adjuster

Any common water damage claims processes start with a meeting with the adjuster who will inspect the initial damage and request you to submit various documents supporting your claim. You will be asked to give a statement, covering the following points:

  • when you discovered the damage from mold or water
  • what types of minor repairs you performed
  • what actions you took to mitigate the damage (removing personal possessions, such as objects in drawers, turning off the water, opening windows to let air dry the walls)

Although it is not mandatory, it can be a good idea to have a water damage attorney present when you make this statement. Your normal home insurance policy may cover the respective type of damage, but insurance firms will always try to tell you otherwise if they notice that you are not sure about the coverage provided by your individual policy. The lawyer may recommend bringing an independent agent to evaluate your damages - because even with the coverage for water damage in good order, your insurer's representative may try to undervalue your damages.

5. Understand the Difference between Actual Cash Value and Replacement Cost

The insurance money offered under flood insurance policy or insurance coverage for water damage settlements is calculated in two different ways:

  • actual cash value - the current value of the damaged personal property
  • replacement cost - the money you would have to pay to replace the damaged items at the current market value

In most cases, the settlement figure an insurer will offer is the actual cash value. However, you have to consider whether it will help you replace or repair all the damages, including the most serious ones, such as:

  • foundation repair if the house suffered structural damage
  • replacing the plumbing and the sewer pipe
  • replacing valuable damaged possessions
  • replacing kitchen and bathroom tiles
  • getting new appliances

The next step is extremely important in this specific context.

6. Get Estimates from Several Contractors

As you prepare to file a claim for mold removal, mold remediation, and other repairs needed because of the damaging event, you should contact several licensed contractors and ask for estimates. You should strive to get at least 4-5 estimates and file claims timely with this information already available. This will show your current carrier that you are doing your due diligence to evaluate the damage caused by the accidental overflow as accurately as possible.

Home Insurance Claim Denied? A Water Damage Attorney Might Be Able to Help You!

An experienced homeowners insurance attorney can look into denied water damage claims and can possibly overturn the decision. Such a denial can happen even if you have a separate flood policy. The insurer will make the reimbursement process as complex and lengthy as they can, preventing you from contracting services to fix the damage by delaying the visit to inspect your home and then invoking lack of maintenance, gradual damage caused by household chemicals, or the existence of a body of water close to your property.

Apart from ensuring regular maintenance for your plumbing and other parts of your home and having a separate flood insurance policy, you should also rely on an experienced lawyer. They know how to read homeowners policies and prepare your claim for water damage. They can maximize your loss settlement by bringing in an independent insurance agent to document and estimate your damages.

Let Us Help You Get an Equitable Repair Settlement!

At VG Law, you will find a dedicated water damage attorney, who wants to help you get your entire settlement paid by the insurance company. We specialize in helping clients with different types of water damage, such as:

  • flood damage
  • rain damage
  • water leaks
  • floor damage
  • roof damage
  • plumbing leaks
  • basement leaks

Whether you suffered water damage from the dishwasher overflowing or from burst pipes, we will fight for your justice. Rely on an experienced home insurance attorney with a great recovered loss history and experience in dealing with a claims adjuster from your insurance company. Schedule a free consultation with us now: 833-HELP-365!

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