Water damage can happen without warning and as a homeowner, you’re in for some costly repairs if it does. In fact, water damage costs insurance companies about $10,234 per claim.
But that’s why you have insurance, right? Your insurance provider is there to help you cover the cost of repairs and reduce your out-of-pocket expenses. You just have to file a water damage claim after the incident.
If you’ve never filed a claim before, you’re likely wondering where to start. Here’s what you need to do to file a successful claim with your insurance provider.
Review Your Policy
Unfortunately, your homeowners' insurance policy may not cover all types of water damage. This means you’ll need to take a look at your policy to make sure you even have a claim. If you don’t, you’ll have to pay for the cost of repairs completely out-of-pocket.
Pull up a copy of your policy details and see if your insurance covers flood damage in the first place. Often, homeowners need to purchase additional flood coverage to protect their homes from flood-related water damage.
If you can’t find a copy of your insurance policy, contact your agent. They’ll be able to tell you if you have a claim or not.
Document Everything You Can
If you have a claim, you’ll need to document the damage as thoroughly as possible. One of the first things you’ll learn about filing a claim is that you can never have too much documentation for the insurance company.
Take pictures of the damage and hold off on making any repairs before you speak with your insurance company. You may even want to avoid cleaning up the area until an insurance adjuster can assess the damage.
Remember, the more you clean up, the less severe the damage will look and the less you’ll receive in your settlement.
Inventory Your Damaged Items
After you take pictures and document the damage to your property, start taking inventory of each water damaged item in the house. This includes furniture, electronics, and even the food in your cupboards.
Anything that you’ll have to replace because of the water damage needs to get added to the inventory. If you have receipts for your major purchases, make copies of those receipts and give them to your insurance company.
This will help you get the most out of your claim and may increase your settlement amount so you’ll have to pay less out-of-pocket to replace those damaged items.
Find a Place to Stay
In most cases, water damage makes at least a portion of your house unsafe to stay in. While you can choose to stay at the property, it’s best to find a different place to stay until you can take care of the repairs.
Otherwise, you’ll end up putting yourself and your family at risk for possible health issues due to mold, mildew, and bacteria.
If possible, find a place to stay until everything gets cleaned up. Your insurance policy may even cover a portion of the cost for hotel rooms or rental units if your property isn’t safe.
Contact Your Insurance Agent
Once you’ve documented the damage, contact your insurance agent to start the filing process. They’ll ask you about what happened, what got damaged and will help make sure you have all the right documentation in place to have a successful claim.
Your agent should be able to walk you through the process and can act as a point of contact while you wait for the insurance provider to settle your claim.
If you have any questions about the claim or the settlement, they’ll also be able to answer those questions. Remember, it’s their job to make sure you understand how your policy works, how the claim will impact your future coverage and premium costs.
Meet with an Adjuster
Before the insurance claim gets finished, the insurance provider will send out an adjuster to inspect the damage. They’ll walk around the outside of your property and through each room of the house.
This gives them an idea of the extent of the damage. Once they have a feel for the extent of the damage, they’ll put together a firm estimate of the cost of the repairs.
The adjuster will also be able to recommend local repair professionals to help you get the problems fixed quickly.
Find the Right Repair Service
The companies your adjuster recommends partner with the insurance provider to make the repairs as affordably as possible without sacrificing the quality of their workmanship. But that doesn’t mean you have to stick to the repair companies your insurance company recommends.
You’re free to work with any repair technician you want. In some cases, this can be beneficial.
If you feel that the estimate provided by the adjuster is too low, you can hire an experienced repair technician to give you another estimate for the damages. If the amount is higher, use this new number to contest the settlement amount with your insurance company.
Don’t Be Afraid to Fight for What You Deserve
Contesting the settlement may seem daunting, but it’s incredibly common and is the best way to make sure you get compensated fairly for the damage. It just takes a little extra time and persistence.
If you choose to contest the settlement, be aware of what you’re signing if your insurance provider sends you any documents. If they issue a check, don’t cash it. Cashing the check, even if you’re actively contesting the settlement, shows that you accept their estimate.
Final Thoughts on How to File a Water Damage Claim
Every time you file a water damage claim, you can expect the process to be different. But these steps will help you get your claim started and processed as quickly as possible.
No matter how extensive the damage is, take your time and make sure you get the money you deserve.
Looking for more helpful tips on taking care of your home? Check out our latest posts.