The telltale patches on your walls, ceiling, floor, and possessions are every property owner’s worst nightmare: your home has suffered water damage. While many homeowners’ insurance policies cover water damage, repairing the damage is a lengthy and often expensive process that can cost thousands of dollars.
Insurance companies are often reluctant to cover expenses and may offer you far less compensation than you deserve or even outright deny your claim.
Knowing the fine details of your insurance policy and documenting the damage are just some ways to get the compensation you deserve. Explore how you can get the most out of your water damage claim and how a law firm like Nessler & Associates can help maximize your settlement.
Review Your Insurance Policy
If you notice signs of water damage, it’s critical to review your homeowners’ insurance policy. It’s common for insurance policies to cover some types of water damage but not others. For example, your policy may cover damage from a burst pipe but not flood damage. Similarly, many policies don’t cover damages caused by a natural disaster unless you take out a separate policy.
Your policy will also cover the deadlines for you to file a claim. Most policies don’t have one deadline: instead, they have multiple smaller deadlines by which you must submit your claim, documentation, and so forth. Failing to meet these deadlines can result in your claim being denied.
Consider consulting a lawyer if you’re struggling to understand your insurance policy or meet filing deadlines. Property insurance attorneys can review your policy and walk you through the claims process, ensuring maximum payout from your insurance company.
Document the Damage
Your insurance company will want proof that your property and possessions have sustained damage from water. Documentation that you can provide includes:
- Pictures and videos of the damage (include photos from before the damage if possible)
- Description of water-damaged items or property
- Purchase receipts
- All estimated cost of repairs
- Written communication between you and your insurance company
- Any other relevant documents (e.g., serial numbers)
Only throw out waterlogged items after you have documented them thoroughly. Similarly, while you may want to begin repairing damage, wait until your insurance has given approval in writing. If you take action without proper documentation or your insurance company’s approval, they may offer you a lower settlement or deny you compensation entirely.
A property damage attorney at Nessler & Associates can help with documentation. We can help you determine what is appropriate documentation and negotiate with your insurance company if they claim your evidence is insufficient.
Say “Water Damage” to Your Insurance Company
A term you might use in casual conversation can mean something very different to insurance companies. Insurance companies use certain words to refer to specific events and damages, and misusing these words like flooding can result in your claim being denied.
Knowing what terms are safe to use when talking to your insurance adjuster can be difficult. A water damage attorney is familiar with insurance terminology and can make sure you describe the damage appropriately.
You should also avoid giving a recorded statement to the insurance company because the questions they ask may seek to deny your claim. Your attorney can handle all communication with your insurance company to ensure you receive the money you need to repair the damage to your property.
Get an Independent Evaluation
As part of the claims process, your homeowner’s insurance will send out a contractor to assess the damage to your home. Since these contractors are associated with the insurance company, they may undervalue the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged property to avoid paying you the full amount owed.
In the aftermath of a storm or natural disaster, you may be offered services from adjusters unaffiliated with private insurance companies, called public insurance adjusters. However, be wary: public adjusters will take a portion of your settlement as payment since they are not associated with private companies.
In addition, these adjusters may have undisclosed relationships with independent contractors, who may deliberately overvalue the damage to earn the adjuster a higher payment.
Many players are involved in an insurance claim so when talking to the insurance company or their subcontractors, remember they work for the insurance company. To get an accurate appraisal, it’s best to consult a property damage claims lawyer. Your lawyer can connect you to an independent contractor who can assess the damage and provide an estimated repair cost.
Consult with a Skilled Water Damage Attorney.
For the average person, navigating an insurance claim is a fraught process. Meeting deadlines, using the right terminology, and getting an accurate assessment of the damage to your property can seem like an impossible task. Seeking the advice of a property damage attorney at Nessler & Associates will ensure that you receive the maximum payout from your insurance company rather than a lowball offer.
At Nessler & Associates, our attorneys are familiar with handling property damage cases and navigating insurance claims in Illinois, Colorado, Florida, and Texas. We will gather the paperwork, meet the deadlines needed, and negotiate with your insurance company to get you the compensation you’re owed.
We don’t want to add to your debts when you’re facing the expense of water damage. Our law firm works on contingency, so our no-fee guarantee means you won’t owe us a cent unless we settle or win your case. Call us at (800) 727-8010 or fill out our online form for a free consultation to discuss your claim and learn your next steps.