Will My Water Damage Claim Be Accepted?
Water damage is one of the most expensive repairs you could need on your home. Whether it leaks in through the ceiling or your basement floods during the Arizona monsoon season, you may need to spend thousands of dollars fixing your house. To help pay for massive expenses of water damage, you need to file a claim. As with most insurance claims, however, there is a risk that your insurer may deny your claim.
Common Causes of Water Damage
Water damage is common. It occurs when water collects and pools in areas around a house that cannot withstand excessive water. Some of the most common causes of water damage include:
- Burst or leaking pipes. When pipes become clogged or blocked, it puts pressure on the pipe that can lead to bursting or leaking. Old pipes also are more prone to such issues.
- Plumbing issues. Numerous plumbing malfunctions can cause water to pool and damage your house.
- Issues with crawl spaces, basements, and attics. Basements and crawl spaces are vulnerable to all the water that seeps into the ground, and attics are vulnerable to leaks.
- Old or defective household appliances. If you have deteriorating appliances, including washing machines, water heaters, and refrigerators, they may leak and cause damage.
- Neglected HVACs. Your heating and cooling system can cause moisture buildup and potentially mold growth if not checked frequently and properly.
- Weather and natural disasters. If your home is not prepared for Arizona monsoon season, you need to take steps to protect it from floods, rain storms, and other weather disasters.
Water vs. Flood Damage
One of the most significant factors in whether your insurance company will deny your claim is how your home suffered damage. Most insurance policies do not cover water damage caused by floods. Federal regulations define flooding as water build-up caused by:
- Overflow of inland or ocean waters
- Eroding or collapsing shores
- Excessive runoff or surface water accumulation
Natural disasters are usually the cause of flooding situations. Most insurers will only cover flood damage if you purchase a separate policy specifically for flood damage.
Development of Damage
Another important factor is how long it took the damage to develop. Insurance companies expect property owners to maintain their homes and buildings properly. Therefore, insurance companies will rarely cover water damage that occurs because of leaking pipes, old pipes, or other gradual damage. By owning the property, you take responsibility for gradual issues you could have prevented with regular maintenance. If you file a claim for damage that happens slowly over time, your insurance company may deny your claim.
The insurance companies regard sudden incidents in a different light. Due to the unpredictable nature of sudden incidents, insurers are more likely to cover damage that occurs in these situations. You may, however, need to purchase a special policy to cover water damage from sewer backups.
As with other types of claims, insurance companies heavily consider neglect in water damage claims. As mentioned, insurers expect property owners to take care of their buildings, so you must consider the location and climate tendencies of your area. In Arizona, most insurers expect property owners to prepare for the heavy rains of monsoon season. If you neglect to prepare your home or building for the rain, the insurance company may deny your claim.
Preventing Water Damage
Though your insurance company may cover your water damage, it is important to take preventive measures to avoid damage in the first place. Consider replacing household appliances that you have had for a long time that are functioning poorly or will be soon. It is also a good idea to hire a professional to check your pipes and plumbing for any potential issues.