Are you standing in water wondering if your homeowner’s insurance will cover your water problems? Water backup claims are some of the more ambiguous claims that homeowners face. Let’s start with the basics.
When a water backup occurs, water accumulates due to a flow stoppage. Something blocks the water from traveling its normal course, like a tree root in a sewer lateral line. Water seeks its easiest path, and that may be to flow back into your bathtub or sinks. Normally a plumber can clear your line to end the water backup.
Next, there are overflows of water. These occur for several reasons. One of our clients fell asleep with the bathtub running and flooded not only the bathroom, but the downstairs tenants. This is an overflow. Excluded are losses that occur from overflows from sump pumps and drains, although you may be able to buy back some coverage with Water Back-up and Sump Discharge or Overflow endorsement form HO 04 95. Water flowing from a basement sump pump, even in Arizona, can cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time, so be sure you have this important coverage if your home contains a basement.
A discharge might occur when your city utility maintenance people clean the city’s main line, forcing water into your lateral and into your home. As a result, wastewater may flood into your home through your toilet or bathtub. Most homeowner’s policies exclude this type of loss, so talk to your agent to determine if you can purchase an endorsement for added coverage. Also, consider whether to install a backwater prevention valve in your lateral line to reduce this possibility, especially if your home is located below the city’s main line servicing your home.
What does the adjuster look for after a loss?
When you report a water loss to your homeowners’ company, they assign an adjuster to your claim, who should call you within 24 hours of your report to determine the loss facts. If there is enough damage, they may send a field adjuster to visit your home.
Your adjuster may inspect the area and talk with your plumber to determine the loss cause. The typical homeowner’s policy covers water damage that occurs due to a discharge or overflow of plumbing, heating, air conditioning or household appliances on your premises. If a pipe leaks behind a wall or in your floor, the damage caused when a plumber must access that leaking pipe should also be covered by your carrier. They will not, however, cover the cost of the leaking pipe itself. Thankfully, that cost is usually the least of the charges. Despite all we hear from attorneys, the majority of claims adjusters want to help you find coverage for your loss.
Protect Your Property
Your homeowner’s policy contract obligates you to protect your property from further damage. You must either begin removing furniture and cleaning up water or call a disaster recovery company to help you, even before your insurance carrier determines if they will pay for the loss. This is called a “policy condition.” If you fail to do so, you may void your insurance coverage for that loss.
Is it covered?
The typical homeowner’s policy covers water damage that results from a discharge or overflow of a plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or household appliance that is located on the premises. Coverage for water or sewage backups is less clear. Always check with your agent if you have damage due to a sewer backup or a backup from your own storm drains, steam or sewer pipes.
Another word of warning – sometimes your insurance agent will tell you there is no coverage for your claim. Always ask your agent to turn the claim in to the insurance company, because many agents do not have the extensive experience handling claims that adjusters do.
At Sav-On Plumbing, we can work directly with your insurance adjuster to help ensure your loss gets covered if possible. Contact us at 602.488.4647 if you have water damage that involves plumbing.