Whether your water heater fell over, the kids forgot to turn off the bathtub faucet, the normally serene river down the road has burst its bank, or a 24-foot storm surge in Bell has wiped out your home, Water Damage happens. In fact, that’s why many homeowners carry insurance – to protect their homes from unpredictable catastrophes.
Unfortunately, one man’s catastrophe is another man’s problem. This is true especially when dealing with your insurance company over Water Damage Restoration claims. Is it a catastrophe or is it your problem? Is the flood event covered or not?
Most homeowners in Bell insurance policies exclude certain types of flooding so it’s useful to review your policy before and during the water restoration claims process. If you have National Flood Insurance, you should be prepared with that information as well.
Water damage and restoration claims are subject to all kinds of rules and loopholes and your insurance company knows exactly what they are doing – do you? If you’re getting the runaround from your insurance about a restoration claim, don’t take their word for it. Read your insurance policy and find out exactly what is covered. You pay your premiums for the service that the insurer provides. When it’s time for restoration for a covered loss, you don’t deserve to be short changed.
While many water claims are specifically excluded from an insurance policy, not all are. During hurricanes and major storms, some water damage is specifically excluded such as water damage from a storm surge. However, if your roof blows off and the rain damages the interior of your home, then the water restoration would likely be covered. Beware of the insurance agent that wants to classify damage as something other than it is. For example, if the agent claims the water damage is due to storm surge when it’s clear that the reason the home is water damaged is because the roof blew off, then stick up for yourself and demand that the adjuster look at the obvious.
In these cases, restoration compensation could be less than what’s needed thanks to an insurance adjuster whose eyes are on the bottom line, not what you are entitled to under the terms of your policy. Get a professional involved if you need help. Public insurance adjusters can act on your behalf and get a better settlement offer while specific contractors, such as roofers and rebuilders, can document the damage, make reasonable efforts, and back you up when you’re filing a restoration claim.
Your insurance company wants to save a few bucks while you want to make sure that you can restore your property. You are at odds with each other even though you are business partners. Get a third party involved and ensure that your restoration goes the way it should.
Water Damage Defined
Water damage can be defined as the damage to real estate or personal property by the encroachment of water. Flooding is a somewhat common occurrence with homes and businesses. Whenever flood damage happens, it can be a traumatic experience for the resident. In some cases, the resident is required to leave their business or residence until the restoration work is completed. This can, at times be a large inconvenience to the resident and can result in loss of income to the business.
How Water Problems Occur
There are many reasons that a home or business could become water damaged. One way water damage can occur is because of flooding due to rainstorms or other water accumulations. A second way that water damage can occur is due pipes and interior plumbing in buildings breaking and leaking water. This kind of damage can occur quickly, as in the case of a pipe breaking and suddenly discharging water or slowly due to a slow leak in a pipe that leaks for weeks or months until it's discovered. Whatever the initial cause for the water damage, it is important that the leak is stopped and the property is dried as soon as possible. Otherwise, additional damage may occur in the form of mold.
What To Do When an Emergency Occurs
When the property owner discovers that flooding or discharge of water has occurred on their property, the first thing they should do is, if possible, stop the leak by turning off the water. They should then contact a professional plumber immediately if the cause of the flooding is because of a pipe leak. If necessary, the plumber might need to call in a water damage restoration company to dry and remove the water from the property and restore the property to its original condition. It is absolutely critical that the property owner not delay in calling in professionals as the longer the water is allowed to remain, the higher the probability that mold will grow. If mold is allowed to grow on the property, the scope of the damage is greatly increased as is the cost to repair the damage.
Getting Water Damage Invoices Past Insurance Adjusters
Water Damage Restoration
One of the most frustrating things about water restoration is getting a call from the adjuster saying your invoice is too high. During my 14 + years in the water restoration business I have gotten plenty of calls from adjusters saying that my price is too high on this dehumidifier or this fan, etc. This used to bug me until I learned the secret to prevent most of these calls, COMMUNICATION & DOCUMENTATION. Remember that the adjuster has to justify his work to his boss and as long as the price and scope of work can be justified then it will be paid.
Starting off the job on the right foot is important. You should always get a work authorization signed by the insured before starting work. A work authorization will allow some insurance companies to be able to pay you directly or at least get your name on the check.
Then as soon as the initial mitigation is performed, call the adjuster and let him/her know what you did. This can be done on the way back to your office. During this conversation just let the adjuster know what you saw when you arrived and what you decided to do about. During this conversation I generally try to steer away from talking about pricing. If they ask about it then I will talk about it, but for me this is more of an information phone call to the adjuster. At this point, usually the adjuster has not been there and so to call and inform him/her what is going on is my main objective.
Kevin Pearson is a partner in Pearson Carpet Care. He has over 17 years experience in the cleaning and restoration business. He serves on several committees with the IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification) and is on the board of directors of the PCRA (Professional Cleaning and Restoration Alliance). Kevin has dried building in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. He has extensive experience drying residential homes but has also dried office buildings, chemical plants, historical homes, Southern Methodist University, Stephen F. Austin State University, The Toyota Center (where the Houston Rockets play) and more.
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