If your home suffers water damage from a burst pipe, a roof leak, a fallen tree or a sudden severe downpour, chances are that it’s not something you were budgeting for, and you can’t expect to take care of the problem and repair all of the damage on your own. After all, that’s why we pay for homeowner’s insurance in the first place, right? Though you might be justified in thinking that most if not all of your repair expenses should be covered by your insurance policy, it’s important to know that the way you describe the damage goes a long way in determining the fate of your claim. Homeowner’s insurance is a partnership in the sense that it requires real cooperation and effort on both parties to protect the equity and structural integrity of your home in the event of a disaster. Think of your insurance company as your sponsor, and you will begin to see just how active your role in this agreement is supposed to be. In the days immediately following a water damage incident, it is up to you to file the claim and begin doing everything you can to get the home dried out immediately. Your insurance carrier will want to know exactly what caused the loss so that they can be sure it is covered by your policy, and if it is you are still the first responder and chief liaison in the restoration effort. Your duty is to prevent further damage, such as the growth of mold from occurring, and if you fail in this task you may lose out on some of the coverage that was rightfully yours if the insurance company is forced to classify this new development as a pre-existing or ongoing condition. Therefore, it is vitally important to understand the effects of water damage and mold as well as the relationship between you and your insurance carrier.
Mold is a microscopic decomposer of organic material, one of Mother Nature’s little housekeepers. It is an inescapable and necessary part of our planet’s natural biorhythms, but in the air and the building materials of our homes it becomes a real and serious problem. Mold can cause a number of health issues for you and your family while also destroying your home one spore at a time. The only time an insurance company will cover the cost of mold remediation is when the mold was brought about by a covered loss, such as an appliance malfunction or roof leak. That is why it’s important to properly identify the cause of the damage and to act on it as soon as possible. If your adjuster arrives to inspect the property and determines that the mold damage is pre-existing or the result of your failure to act quickly to resolve the problem after the loss occurred, then you could be denied coverage and left with a very expensive repair bill. Other non-covered causes of mold include poor circulation in the home or a lack of proper maintenance, and it’s best if you don’t use the “M” word at all in the beginning of your claim until you know all the facts about why it’s there.
Keep in mind that most insurance policies are designed to cover the cost of cleaning up the water damage and restoring your contents to a pre-loss condition, but depending upon your policy and certain other factors, this may not include replacing or repairing the cause of the loss. Some insurance carriers might interpret a leaking roof as a regular maintenance expense that should be handled by the homeowner, though they may be more than willing to pay for any damages this leak might have caused. It’s a little screwy, I know, but remember that it’s your house, not theirs, and they are just your sponsors in a two-way commitment.
If your water damage is indeed covered by your insurance policy, hire a professional water restoration contractor to make the necessary repairs. Be sure that your chosen contractor is certified and equipped to handle water damage and mold remediation, and ask about their level of experience in working with insurance companies. An experienced claims contractor can advise you every step of the way on how to maximize the partnership between you and your insurance carrier.