Insuring You're Ready (Part Two): Leaky Insurance Claims
My name is Patrick Thorpe, and I have recently begun my career with SERVPRO of Northeast Wichita. Before coming on board with this wonderful company and team, I spent the better part of a decade helping folks just like you with their insurance coverage. The one aspect of that job I enjoyed the most was being knowledgeable, educating my clients, and, pun intended, insuring that they had the right coverage so that I could be their personal Superhero when an emergency arose. Now that I’m on the other side of the table, working with SERVPRO of Northeast Wichita, it’s important that I impart with what I learned in the insurance industry to make sure when our services are needed, you have the proper coverage to help with that financial burden.
Folks, it truly is a burden. None of us wake up in the morning and think that this will be the day my kitchen catches fire, or the pipe behind my refrigerator leaks and ruins the hardwood floors. The vast majority of people I have helped with claims were so thankful they had the proper coverage, because they were not financially prepared to pay for $15,000 or $100,000 worth of repairs.
Understanding Water Losses:
There are many different types of water claims an insurance company will cover, and quite a few they will not (without the right type of policy). Water claims come in many forms whether that’s a pipe freezing during the winter, a leaky line running to the refrigerator, or water rushing in from a basement window. It is important as a homeowner or business owner to know what your policy covers, what it doesn’t, and how to prevent a pesky leak from becoming a painful aggravation.
As always, I strongly recommend speaking with your agent about any concerns and coverage you have you on your policy. It is just as important to develop a trusting relationship with your agent.
What is USUALLY covered:
I need to emphasize that insurance policies typically are a one-size fits all deal, but there are exceptions to the rule. In Kansas and surrounding states, there are quite a few different homeowner’s policies offered. Some will list out exactly what’s covered (usually 16 “named perils”); others will list what’s excluded (called a broad peril policy). Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, but they do share a few things in common.
Most policies, whether home or business, has coverage for things like a sudden pipe burst. This typically happens during the winter, but is also common with older pipes from general wear and tear. The pipe itself, most of the time, is not that big of a cost. It’s the water that comes from it that makes the most damage. Exposed pipes, that is pipes that are not buried underground and not in a controlled environment where there is a heat source (for example, in a crawlspace or attic) or most prone for these types of losses. However, a pipe burst can happen ANYWHERE of ANY PARTICULAR REASON. Pesky pipes…
Two things to consider and watch out for: 1) Pipes that are not in an area with a constant heat source should always be well insulated and especially during freezes, have a running water source, like a faucet turned partially on, and 2) Making sure your policy covers part of your location below ground level. Yes, there are some policies out there that exclude water damage in parts of the location that is below ground. It is more common with “named peril” policies and definitely deserves questioning your agent (and get their answer in writing on a letterhead). You could also ask for an endorsement covering those parts of the location.
More often than not, pipe bursts like the ones described above will have coverage under your policy. Its up to you, though, to be vigilant and act when a loss occurs. Call SERVPRO of Northeast Wichita (316-684-6700) if there is an issue and we can send a team to you right away.
Leaking lines are almost always covered under the policy. Its crucial though that if you detect a leaking line to notify a professional company like SERVPRO of Northeast Wichita to take have it handled otherwise it might fall under…
Things that are NOT covered:
The most common way for water losses to not be covered is due to NEGLECT! Leaky lines is a good example of the neglect exclusion. Let’s say you have a toilet that has been leaking for a few months. Nothing seems major; you have just wiped up any excess water on the vinyl floors and called it good. All of a sudden one day when using the facility you notice a soft spot. You call your agent and the adjustor comes out and it turns out the wood underneath has rot and mold. Most insurance companies will call that neglect and deny the claim!
Important Note: Some companies offer mold and fungi coverage which gives an exception to the neglect rule. This is why it’s worth repeating to understand your policy, ask your agent questions and get their responses in writing on letterhead.
Another common leaky line issue is the fridge. As we all know, in order for the ice machine to make ice or pour water from the door, it draws water from the water line. Ice machine lines can freeze up. Seals that hold the refrigerator’s water line can go bad. What happens next is water will slide down the backside of the fridge (occasionally the front) and pool on the ground. Water is a funny thing; it’ll take the path of least resistance. Sometimes it’ll find its way through the molding on the floor, or in some cases, soak right into the tile. If you start to see your floors warp or mysterious water appears on the floor, TAKE ACTION! If you wait and wood starts to rot of develop mold, an insurance company might deny parts or the entire claim.
The last type of water loss that might not be covered is flood waters, or water that comes from the ground. This doesn’t include sewer back up (which is contained in tanks and pipes), but rather water from rain that enters a basement window, or water from the water table that seeps in through a concrete basement. These types of losses are covered under FEMA and are maintained by agents here in town. If you have any concerns about flood and ground water coming into your location, contact your agent and ask about flood insurance. Prices can vary depending how much coverage is needed, and where you live.
Most water losses inside the home are going to have some coverage. The two take-aways you should get from this blog is to ASK YOUR AGENT what your policy covers and TAKE ACTION! Do not wait for water to damage your subfloor and make a slight annoyance turn into a financial burden. TAKE ACTION and call SERVPRO of Northeast Wichita who can quickly assess and offer a solution. We also work with great plumbers and would be happy to give a referral if you just need an adjustment, like to a leaking toilet or sink. If you own a commercial building, let us build you an Emergency Ready Plan so your tenants and employees know exactly what to do and who to call if there is water damaging your property. Utilize SERVPRO of Northeast Wichita and you will reap the benefits. 316-684-6700