Floridians usually think of water damage occurring to their property from a tropical storm. However, more water damage claims are filed with insurance companies for common problems, such as broken pipes, malfunctioning appliances, or a leaking roof. Regardless of the cause of the damage, you expect your homeowner’s insurance to cover the repair or replacements costs. In reality, though, many Florida homeowners are disheartened to find out that it can be very difficult to get their water damage claims approved.
At Malik Law, we have seen first-hand how destructive water can be, often displacing homeowners and causing significant disruption to their daily lives. If you have experienced water damage to your property, the experienced insurance claims attorneys at Malik Law want you to know what steps to take immediately following the damage, how to file a claim with your insurance company, and what to do if your claim is delayed, underpaid, or denied.
Steps to Take Following Water Damage to Your Home
When water damage occurs in your home, it can cause the home to be inhabitable. Even if the damage isn’t severe enough to make your home unsafe immediately, the longer the water remains there, the greater the risk that mold will start growing. Florida’s warm, humid climate is the perfect breeding ground for mold, so you need to act fast when water damage occurs inside your home.
- Step One – Prevent Further Damage. When applicable and if safe to do so, stop any further damage from occurring by stopping the flow of water. For example, if a burst pipe appears to be the cause of the damage, shut off the water to the house. Likewise, if a storm caused water to enter through a broken window, cover the window with plywood to prevent additional water from entering.
- Step Two – Document Damage. Before you take any steps to remove the water from your home, you should document the damage. Take as many pictures as possible, showing the damage from different angles. If the source of the damage is easily ascertainable (such as a leak in the roof) take pictures of that as well.
- Step Three – Remove Water. When possible, prevent further damage by doing what you can to remove water that has entered your home. A household Shop-Vac may be sufficient for smaller areas of water; however, you may need to call a professional water extraction company for more extensive damage. Note: If you do attempt to remove water, do not throw away anything that was damaged, and keep your receipts, if you pay for professional help.
Filing a Water Damage Claim
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible following water damage to your home. It is also a good idea to review your insurance policy before filing a claim to make sure you have a clear understanding of your coverage, as well as any applicable deductibles and exclusions. For example, most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage that is the result of floodwater, usually defined as water that has been on the ground. It is for this reason that some homeowners purchase separate flood insurance.
Even when you have coverage, the road to approval for a water damage claim can be long and riddled with obstacles. This is particularly true when the damage was caused by a storm, which can result in direct water damage or in residual damage due to flooding. Insurance companies often deny a claim outright if flooding was present at all on the property.
Insurance companies might also deny a water damage claim if they believe water from a broken pipe or malfunctioning appliance was inside the home for 14 or more days. Most policies exclude damage from water left inside the home for 14 or more days, but since the determination of what damage was caused prior to day 14 is not precise, the outright denial of a claim is questionable.
In addition, water damage claims are often denied because the insurance company says that the homeowners didn’t maintain their home properly. For example, they might say that the roof leaked during a storm and water entered the home, causing damage, because the old roof needed repairs that the homeowners did not make. Since the property was not adequately maintained, the claim is denied.
Moreover, a claim might also be delayed for an unreasonable amount of time without any explanation, or your insurance company might undervalue a claim, leaving you to try and repair the damage without sufficient funds to properly do so.
If you are having trouble with a water damage claim, an experienced insurance claim attorney from Malik Law can help. We focus on helping clients in Miami and throughout the state of Florida negotiate with insurance companies or file lawsuits, if necessary, and get compensated fully for the damage to their property.
Get Help from Experienced Miami Water Damage Attorneys
From the date you submit a water damage claim to your insurance provider they have 15 days to act on that claim and either accept or reject it. For approved claims, the insurance company must issue payment within five business days. In the event your claim is denied, you are entitled to an explanation in writing that sets forth the reason(s) for the denial.
If your claim is delayed, denied, or underpaid, the Miami water damage attorneys at Malik Law can help you obtain fair compensation to repair and/or replace your damaged property. We are familiar with the tactics insurance companies often employ to avoid paying a claim and have extensive experience helping homeowners navigate successfully through the water damage claims process.
If you have suffered a water damage loss, we will aggressively advocate on your behalf to ensure you are compensated fairly for all covered damage.
Call us at 407-500-1000 or submit our online form today for a free consultation. One of our experienced Miami water damage attorneys will explain your rights and discuss your legal options with you.