Having a home in Florida means that you're at likely risk of water damage. From the danger of burst pipes to leaky faucets, there are many instances through which it can occur. However, it becomes even worse when you have to deal with the aftermath. Supposedly, insurance covers this, but how much?
This article examines what water damage insurance covers in Florida. We also look at things you could do to make a successful insurance claim.
What Kind of Water Damage Does Insurance Cover in Florida?
For insurance purposes, water damage is viewed in two ways. The first covers 'sudden and accidental water damage' while the second is gradual water damage. Generally, homeowners insurance will only cover sudden water damage such as a burst pipe. It, however, does not extend to gradual damages.
The success or otherwise of your insurance claim will also depend on the source of the damage. Thus, if the water originated from an external source, you likely will not be able to recover. The following are what water damage insurance covers in Florida.
Insurance covers damage caused by a burst pipe within your home. However, the damage must have occurred unintentionally. In cases where it did not (where you intentionally turned off the heat, causing a pipe to freeze and burst, for instance), the company may deny your claim.
Damage After a Fire
The package also covers damage that resulted from the use of fire-suppressing equipment such as an extinguisher, hose, or sprinkler.
Ordinarily, your insurance will cover damage created by roof leaks. But if, for instance, your roof sustains damage from a storm, you have to repair the roof early to prevent further damage through that end. If you do not, it may bar you from making a successful claim for that damage.
Damage caused by appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines is equally within the scope of your insurance.
What Water Damage Insurance Does Not Cover in Florida
Just as there are forms of water damage insurance covers in Florida, the coverage has its limitations. The following are forms of damage which your insurance may not cover:
Damage Resulting from Negligence
Where the damage resulted from some negligent act on your end, insurance may not cover it. For example, if you turned the heat off during the cold or neglected to fix a plumbing issue, insurance will not cover it.
Water Damage from an Earthquake
A separate earthquake insurance policy largely covers damage of this nature. As a result, if water affects your property due to earth movement, insurance will likely not protect you from the damage.
You are unlikely to file a successful claim when you intentionally created the damage. Purposely setting fire to your home is one of such instances where you cannot make a claim.
Flood, Hurricanes, and Tsunamis
Homeowner's insurance will typically not cover this type of damage. To claim, you need to have a separate insurance coverage for it. You may be entitled to claim under the National Flood Insurance Program in Florida.
Damage from Water That Backs up
Your insurance does not cover this kind of damage. You can only recover under a separate insurance policy.
Other forms of damage the policy will not cover include repair costs of the source of the damage (a broken washing machine, for instance), leaks from your swimming pool or house's foundation, and so on.
How to Protect Your Home from Water Damage
The following are ways to protect your home from water damage and the harrowing procedure of claiming insurance.
Ensure You Disconnect Your Hoses
When a hose is not disconnected, the water within can freeze into ice and block water flow. But in a worst-case scenario, the ice can burst your pipes and damage your building structure.
Protect Your Pipes from Trees and Vegetative Cover
Properly maintaining your landscape can prevent overgrown roots from cracking your pipes. It is advisable that you keep trees at a distance from your utility pipes.
Regular Cleaning of Your Gutters
This helps to protect your foundation from overflowing water puddles. It removes blockage and minimizes the risk of flooding to your house.
Know the Location of Your Water Main
The main is the distribution channel through which water enters other pipes in your home. If you know where the main shutoff is, you can respond better to emergencies when they arise. Stopping the inflow from the main can prevent the damage from getting worse.
You may also want to stop the water supply to your home when you're leaving for an extended period. This way, leaks will do no damage since there is no water flow.
Another important aspect is the maintenance of your water-based appliances. Closely observing your washing machine, for example, can avert a major disaster from leakage. You should also do a regular replacement of parts to keep the appliance in top working condition.
Invest in a Water Detector
A water detector senses moisture in its vicinity. In most cases, you may not quickly detect leaks or mold growth. The detector solves this problem by sounding an alarm when it detects moisture. For effect, install the device near toilets, dishwashers, sinks, washing machines, sump pumps, and other plumbing locations for early discovery of issues.
Check Your Water Pressure
Normally, plumbing systems are built to withstand a pressure of 40 - 70 psi. When the water pressure is too high, your pipes may collapse. To take a measurement, get a water pressure gauge at your local hardware store. Attach it to a faucet and let the water run at full force.
If the rating is above 100 psi, install a pressure regulator. You can get this at a hardware store as well.
Rising Water Bill
If there is a sudden increase in your water bill, it may be time to investigate what's wrong. The problem could range from a leak in your crawl space to concealed damage to a pipe. Whatever the case might be, engage a plumber's services to prevent severe damage.
Promptly Repair Damage as It Occurs
To claim insurance, the damage has to be sudden and accidental. As such, damage borne out of problems that deteriorated over time is not covered. Besides this, leaving maintenance issues unattended can result in mold, mildew, and far-reaching damage to your home's structure.
What to Do to Make a Successful Claim under Your Florida Insurance Policy
Having outlined the water damage insurance covers in Florida, it is important to examine steps to take to file a successful claim. Recovering under a policy is often not as easy as it might seem. To help you along, below are steps to take for a successful claim.
Make an Early Report
Making an early report of water damage will enable your representative to check the coverage in your insurance policy.
Limit the Extent of the Damage
Preventing the damage from getting worse is your responsibility. To do this, stop water from flowing through the supply lines in the case of a burst pipe. Also, ensure that you cut the power during extensive water damage to avoid electrocution.
To protect your furniture and items of value, try to keep them clear of the affected area. You may also want to move expensive household items to prevent deterioration. If the damage is due to a faulty pipe or hose, try locating the leak's origin. You can do this by looking for mold, offensive smells, or cracks in your foundation.
Notify Affected Parties
Where the damage extends beyond your home alone, send early notifications to neighbors who the damage may affect. Where the damage was created by a public facility, notify the authority in your area within the specified time for repairs and compensation.
If you are a tenant, inform your landlord.
If you need to make emergency repairs, don't hesitate to engage a plumber. This will help you control the problem before it gets even worse.
Keep an Updated Inventory of Your Property
Having an up-to-date list of your property when you take an insurance policy is an important step. In the event of damage, you have a readily available list of the affected property and their documents.
Keep Your Damaged Items
Proof is critical to making a successful claim. It is important to keep damaged items as evidence of the effects of water damage. Also, ensure you take photographs of the affected area and the source of the damage. Lacking this might make your claim a difficult one to file.
The Insurance Company
To recover successfully, ensure you provide all the needed documents to your insurance company. Present receipts, inventories, and evidence of damage to your property. Based on the policy, the provider should compensate you based on the value of your items on the day of loss.
What to Do When Your Water Damage Claim is Denied
An insurance provider might deny your claim under the policy. If this happens, ask for clarification on why that happened. If you feel your claim was unjustly denied, go for a second review of the case. Hiring a public adjuster can also help to ground a successful claim.
This article has explored all you need to know about the water damage that insurance covers in Florida. We have looked at sudden and accidental forms of damage, gradual damage, damage without cover under a homeowner's insurance policy, and ways to prevent damage from occurring in your home. It is essential to note that collecting evidence after damage helps you increase your chances of success.
However, it is also important to mitigate the damage as much as possible to prevent complications.