Insurance claims due to water intrusionWater damage is one of the most common causes of property damage
and should be covered by most homeowners and commercial insurance policies. However, not all insurance policies are alike and each property owner should take the time to check for coverage either by calling their agent or reading their specific policy. Some policies require the insured to maintain a certain temperature in buildings and homes. Failing to maintain policy requirements with these types of clauses in them can trigger a claim denial, so beware.
Most pipes burst due to freezing temperatures. When water freezes, it expands. If it expands enough, the pipe bursts, water escapes and serious damage ensues.
When something in your house or building gets clogged it puts a lot of pressure on your pipes. It can be a plugged toilet or the water pump itself has become clogged. When the pressure becomes too much for your pipes to handle they expand, leading to burst pipes. This can happen suddenly if you are not doing routine maintenance on your water pump, systems and fixtures.
3 Categories of Water Damage
1. Clean Water
Some examples of this are a pipe break within the wall or a supply line to a plumbing source. An attic mounted water heater failure; though clean water is released it is running through dirty insulation and often times attics prior to its final destination. There are times when clean water losses may become grey water losses.
2. Grey Water
Some examples of this are overflows from your washing machine, toilet overflow or tub overflow. A washing machine, though clean water is considered grey because of the organic matter contained inside of it, which can include hair follicles, skin cells, and even fecal matter.
3. Black Water
Some examples of this are sewage backup, and surface water flooding. Often times, there are special limits to the amount of coverage provided for sewage backup and no coverage for flood (flood will be insured through the National Flood Insurance Program and in rare cases attached as a rider through your mortgage company). In the event black water damages are not mitigated immediately and properly, mold damage is inevitable.
4 Classes of Water Damage
- A moderate amount of water discharge, which is found in reasonable amount of time, can be cleaned and mitigated with limited to no building material removal outside of flooring.
- This level will affect an entire room or multiple rooms and building material is being affected.
- This is a large amount of water and will affect ceilings, walls, insulation and flooring.
- This is labeled as a specialty situation with an unmaintainable amount of water intrusion and has had time to saturate into the materials such as hardwoods, brick and stone.
- All water restoration technicians need to be IICRC certified and follow the guidelines provided by the IICRC.
- Typically, your insurance company will cover the ensuing damage but often times not the cause of the loss. This applies for most plumbing fixtures, including water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, and sprinkler systems. The bad news is that typically insurance policies do not provide coverage to the damaged pipe themselves and the owner may be responsible to pay for the plumber costs associated with the repair or replacement of a broken pipe.
- Most states have consumer insurance codes that protect you, the insured policyholder from unnecessary delays, underpayments and denial of policy benefits.
- ICRS represents policyholders to document your damage and hold the insurance companies accountable to enforce codes to ensure that the insurance company pays you timely, accurately and to the full legal value of your policy. As your claims advocate, the public adjuster will also make sure the restoration and dryout is done properly and your settlement money is not eaten up by unnecessary charges.
Precautions to Prevent Freezing Pipes:
Here is a list of things you can do to help protect your pipes from freezing:
- Clean your gutters so melting snow and ice can flow freely
- Turn on your faucets and allow them to drip slowly. Moving water will prevent freezing.
- Heat your house to a minimum of 65 degrees in the winter
- Open cabinet doors below sinks. It will help allow warm air to circulate.
- Drain your water system if you’re away for an extended time.
- Disconnect all gardening hoses and install covers on all outside faucets.
- Identify the location of the main water valve and the valve on your water heater. (Learning the location of these valves may come in handy during an emergency.)
- Wrap pipes nearest exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or with heating tape. This can prevent freezing, especially for interior pipes that run along outside walls.
- Close all windows near water pipes; cover or close open-air vents. Freezing temperatures combined with wind drafts can cause pipes to freeze more frequently.
- Heat your basement and consider weather sealing your windows.
- Insulate outside walls and unheated areas of your home.
- If you plan to be away from home for an extended period of time, shut off water supply valves to your washing machine.
Monitor Freezing Pipe Conditions
- Allow a faucet to drip slightly (lukewarm water) in order to minimize freezing.
- The first sign of freezing is reduced water flow from a faucet.
- Check your faucets for water flow and pressure before you go to sleep and again when you wake up.
- Check pipes around your water meter, in unheated areas, near exterior walls and in crawl spaces.
- These tend to be vulnerable to freezing conditions.
- Identify cold air drafts coming in from a flue or chimney chase and caulk gaps that are near pipes.
If a Pipe Freezes
- If a faucet or pipe inside your house freezes, you can thaw it using a good hair dryer. (For safety purposes, avoid operating a hair dryer around standing water.)
- To thaw a frozen pipe, heat water on the stove, soak towels in the hot water and wrap them around cold sections of the pipes.
- When thawing a pipe, start thawing it nearest to the faucet. Make sure the faucet is turned on so that melted water can drip out.
If a Pipe Bursts
- Shut off water at the main valve.
- If the break is in a hot water pipe, the valve on top of the water heater should be closed.
- Call a plumber. Keep an emergency number nearby for quick access.
Consider talking to a professional Public Adjuster with the experience needed to get the settlement you deserve.