If you ever have an insurance claim and are expecting your insurance company to cover damage to your home or business, it is important to preserve the evidence. You need proof that the damage you are claiming actually happened, because the insurance company needs to see it in order for them to properly document the damage and pay the claim.
We as property and business owners, have several conditions noted in our insurance policies that we must comply with, for example, “Your Duties After Loss”. This section requires that you “make reasonable and necessary repairs to protect the property”, and also “As often as we reasonably require: Show the damaged property”.
Many times, when an emergency arises (like a broken pipe that floods your property) you are understandably in a panic and trying to salvage your property. If you call a mitigation company to dry out the property in order to protect it from further damage, they may have to remove damaged building materials. Protecting your property from further damage is a requirement in your policy.
Will your insurance company penalize you for doing this before they inspect the damage? Not necessarily if the damage is properly documented. When this is not done, it becomes a he said, she said, and the insurance battle begins.
Some policies also state “Except for emergency measures, there is no coverage for repairs that begin before the earlier of (a) 72 hours after we are notified of the loss, (b) the time of loss inspection by us, or (c) the time of other approval by us”.
The burden of proof is always on you, so make sure the evidence of the damage is preserved and not discarded and that you understand what you are required to do under your insurance policy.
After a long day at work, you come home to find water all over your beautiful floors and the water has traveled into many rooms of your home. The panic sets in and you grab every towel you own in an attempt to soak up the water but to no avail and have to call a professional company to remove the water and dry your property. You realize you have extensive damage to your floors, walls, baseboards, kitchen cabinets and furniture.
Of course, you trust that your insurance policy will cover the cost of the damages and the dry out bill. Why wouldn’t they? After all you pay your insurance premiums every year! Then the insurance adjuster arrives at your home to inspect the damages and you quickly find out that you have a $10,000.00 water damage limit in your policy.
In recent years, insurance companies have been placing these water damage limits in their policies to limit their payout on a water damage claim caused by a plumbing leak, air conditioning leak or broken pipe. Unfortunately, this limit also includes the cost to dry out your property.
In a situation like this, it is truly a catch 22 because you are required to protect your property from further damage as per your insurance policy, yet it could add up to be costly and eat away at the $10k limit, leaving you with limited funds toward repairing your property. This same scenario above happened to a prior client of ours. The cost to replace the pipe itself is never covered, but the cost for a plumber to access the pipe is covered, and also falls under this limit.
If your home was built in the 50’s or 60’s and has cast iron pipes, your insurance company may require that you replace all the pipes with PVC before they will continue to insure your property. They may place a $10k water damage limit in your policy or they may exclude water damage coverage all together.
It is important to understand and know what is in your insurance policy. That is why one of our comprehensive policy reviews is so valuable. When you know and understand what is actually in the policy you pay for, it gives you the opportunity to shop for a better policy before disaster strikes and you are left to pay for expensive damages that are not covered.
Those of us who live in communities with homeowners associations are familiar with the dreaded letter informing us that our tile roof and/or driveway needs to be pressure cleaned within 30 days. In some cases, this helpful information comes with threats of fines, ouster from the community pool or other horrible social banishment.
At least every week or so in my community, I see a person on a roof with a large circular sidewalk wand moving it over the tiles, washing away the discoloration and restoring the appearance of the roof to its former brilliance. What goes unobserved are the cracked and broken tiles left behind. Sidewalk wands are named that because they are meant to be used on sidewalks and driveways, not on tile roofs!
Another thing that can cause damage during roof cleaning is the person walking on the roof. An inexperienced or careless worker can cause a great deal of destruction. Broken and cracked tiles occur by stepping on the curved portion of barrel tiles instead of the flat parts. I have inspected many roofs with damage like this where there has been no storm activity and the only people to have accessed the roof is the pressure cleaning company.
So, what do you do? There are roof cleaning companies that do not use destructive methods. Several use a chemical process that is environmentally safe, to wash away the dirt and grime. Do your research. Ask questions. If possible, hire someone that a friend or someone you trust has used and is pleased with. Don’t hire just anyone that knocks on the door and gives you a low bid. It may cost you big time down the road.
We sometimes receive calls from potential clients stating they need our help because their insurance company denied their claim. When asked what the issue is that caused them to file the claim, some say their windows are leaking and the water ruined their walls and floors.
A leaking window, in and of itself, is often not an insurable cause of loss under an insurance policy, nor is the ensuing damage from the water entering your property through the leaky window. Your insurance company may determine that this is a maintenance issue if the caulk around your windows is cracked or brittle. They may also say that the windows were installed improperly.
Surely, this is not something we want to hear when we see damage to our property and we pay our insurance premiums every year. It is important to understand that our insurance policies cover for “sudden and accidental” causes of loss which includes wind and hurricanes and the damage they cause. Most insurance policies will not cover damage resulting from lack of maintenance or an issue that has been happening over a period of time whether you know about it or not.
When you see damage to your property, it is best to call us so we can conduct a free property inspection. This will save you from calling in a claim that can be denied and potentially affect your homeowners insurance rates in the future.
The Holidays are a festive time of year when we put up holiday lights around our homes, decorate our trees, light our menorahs and bake delicious treats while we get ready for our traditional celebrations with family and friends.
It is normal to think that things will never happen to us, but they certainly can.
It is important to make sure our homes and loves ones are safe and free from harm. These helpful tips will help to avoid a fire loss to your property:
From our homes to yours, we want to wish all of our clients, colleagues, friends and families a very happy and safe holiday season.