Water damage to your home is often associated with natural disasters such as flooding or hurricanes. However, water damage can often be caused by a variety of other factors, such as cast-iron pipes bursting or other plumbing problems. Many insurance policies that exclude damage caused by natural disasters will cover water damages not caused by such disasters, such as an appliance leaking. Water damage claims can be very complex, as the types of water damage covered by insurers varies with each individual policy. A policy may cover a burst pipe, but not a leaky roof, and some insurers may seek to take advantage of these exclusions. An insurer may deny a water damage claim by claiming that it is caused by an uncovered source of damage, even in some cases where it should be covered, according to the policy’s terms. Even if the insurer accepts that the claim is covered by the policy, they may attempt to underpay the claim or otherwise delay the resolution of your claim. Insurers and their claims adjusters have significant experience in dealing with water damage claims, and it can be difficult to navigate the process of filing a water damage claim with an insurer without adequate legal representation. Miami attorney Mike Redondo and the team at Redondo Law can help you fight the insurance company and pursue compensation for damages you may be entitled to.
What are Common Causes of Water Damage?
- Pipes bursting
- Mold damage
- Roof leakage
- Faulty appliances
- Toilet or sewer clogs
- Cracked foundation
- A/C system leakage
What is Possible Damage Caused by Water Leakage?
- Damage to Appliances and Furnishings
- Weakened Foundation
- Discoloration of Walls, Ceilings, and/or Floors
- Structural Damage
Water damage inside your home may lead to the growth of mold. Mold generally grows in damp or wet areas and may appear as quickly as 48 hours after water damage occurs. The presence of mold can sometimes be determined by sight or smell, though other times the mold is hidden behind drywall or other building materials. The presence of mold in a home may lead to health problems if left unaddressed. While those with allergies to mold may experience extreme symptoms, such as fever and shortness of breath, even otherwise healthy people may be adversely affected by the presence of mold, including symptoms such as upper respiratory tract symptoms, coughing, and wheezing. Mold may also cause infants to develop asthma. The CDC advises the complete removal of all mold, no matter the type to ensure the safety of those living inside a home.
Does My Policy Cover This?
Insurance coverages and exclusions vary from policy to policy, but one common issue regarding coverage involves the cause of the damage. Some insurance policies do not cover damage caused due to flooding or other natural disasters. Coverage for floods, hurricanes, and similar disasters is often purchased separately from your homeowner’s policy. Traditional insurance policies do, however, usually cover damage that is caused suddenly, such as an appliance failing. However, even in these situations where the cause of loss should be covered, your insurance company may still try to claim that the water damage was caused by a gradual leak and deny your claim. Damage from a gradual leak, such as a slowly leaking pipe, is often construed to be damage caused by the homeowner’s negligence. This is why it is so important to get an experienced insurance claims attorney involved as quickly as possible after a leak to make sure the right steps are taken to protect you and your claim.
Importantly, insurance companies often have teams of lawyers whose sole purpose is to reduce the amount of compensation that the insurance company must pay out to its insured. Insurers may attempt to manipulate the language of your policy in such a way as to claim the damage is not covered by your policy. The insurer may also pressure you to quickly accept a claim settlement offer under the guise of helping you quickly begin repairs, and the insurer may even encourage you not to speak to an attorney before agreeing to their initial settlement offer. Insurers know that hiring an attorney will make it more difficult for them to avoid paying full and fair compensation for your claim, so they will encourage you to work directly with them, often under the guise of being helpful and eager to help you receive funds as soon as possible. Another common tactic by insurers is to insist that all claims must be filed within a very short time even in situations where the leak or resulting damage may have been hidden to the homeowner. An experienced attorney can help you determine exactly what your insurance policy covers and formulate a claim that accurately reflects the damage to your home and possessions. Mike Redondo has substantial experience handling water damage claims and can help level the playing field by standing up to your insurer and their team of lawyers on your behalf to fight for the compensation you deserve.
What Should You Do in the Event of Water Damage?
If you discover water damage to your home, the first thing you should do is determine the source of the water leak and stop the leakage if it is safe to do so. Once the leak has been stopped, you can begin to work on drying the area affected by the leak, as well as determining the extent of the damage caused by the leak. Next, you should immediately contact an experienced water damage attorney to help you review your homeowner’s insurance policy to determine whether your policy may cover the water damage you have suffered.
FAQ: How Should I Handle My Water Damage Claim?
Next, you should file a water damage claim as soon as possible. Be sure to take photos and videos of the damage and any repairs, as this evidence will help you to document your claim. Thorough documentation of the source of your water damage as well as the extent of this damage may often be crucial in ensuring you are ultimately compensated for all of your losses. Any repair work should be confined to preventing further water damage until your insurer has reviewed the damage. It is also important to refrain from throwing out damaged property where feasible until appropriate documentation or inspections can occur. Be sure to keep any receipts of services you may have secured for repairs or to aid in the removal of excess water. Insurance adjusters will often appear to be sympathetic, but it is important to remember that at the end of the day, they work for the insurer and will seek to protect the insurer’s bottom line which means paying you as little as possible to settle your claim. Your experienced water damage attorney can assist you by bringing in an independent contractor in order to receive an objective assessment of the potential damage, including the source of the damage, and the extent of the damage.
In Florida, you are protected by the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights. These rights include time limits within which your insurer must acknowledge receipt of your claim and inform you of their decision regarding your claim. Your attorney can help you determine if your rights have been violated by the insurer and help you address any such violations. Your lawyer can make sure that language in your policy is not inaccurately manipulated by the insurer to decline your bike. If your insurance denies your claim, or only partially compensates your claim, the documentation and evidence you have collected can help your attorney build a strong case to pursue the compensation you may be entitled to through the negotiation process or by taking your case to trial.
Compensation for Water Damage Claims
Compensation for water damage claims can vary according to the extent of the damage caused by the water damage. Compensation may include:
- Cost of repairs to the building
- Mold and mildew removal
- Property cleanup costs
- Damage to personal property and possessions, such as appliances, furniture, and clothing
- Medical bills caused by mold
- Living expenses if you cannot remain in the home
How Can Redondo Law Help You After Suffering Water Damage?
Insurers are for-profit businesses and, as such, will attempt to keep compensation for claims as low as possible. This can result in insurers denying legitimate claims or otherwise undervaluing the claim. Insurers have teams of lawyers and claims adjusters to help them pay out as little as possible, but Mike Redondo and the team at Redondo Law can provide the experience and knowledge to help you pursue the full and fair compensation you are entitled to receive. Mike Redondo and the team at Redondo Law can help you determine if your damages are covered, as well as the extent of the damages you may have suffered due to water damage. Mike has over a decade of experience and has represented clients with hundreds of insurance claims, giving him an understanding of the way insurers react to claims and how they may attempt to manipulate the language of your policy to claim your damages are not covered. Having an experienced attorney by your side may signal to the insurer that you will not be manipulated. Contact Redondo Law today to arrange a free, thorough consultation to discuss your claim.