Luckily the vast majority of homeowners have never had to deal with a water leak in their home. With regular maintenance and modern building standards, the risk of significant water leaks has reduced, but unfortunately, they have not be, nor will they ever be eliminated.
The purpose of this article is to prepare anyone who reads it with the knowledge and information required to ensure that if and when a water leak does occur, that they know what steps to take to maximise their chances of making a prompt and successful water leak insurance claim.
Water Damage Insurance Claims
When it comes to making a claim for water damage under your house insurance, specific steps need to be taken to ensure you receive the full payout to which you are entitled. A typical water damage insurance claim can cost thousands of pounds; that money is money to which you are entitled, but you do not want to lose out on it due to some technicality or misunderstanding of your responsibilities under the insurance agreement.
Why It Is Essential To Claim For A Water Leak
Sometimes a water leak can cause minimal damage from water leaking through a ceiling, or much worse with a bust water pipe flooding your home – many policyholders are reluctant to claim in case it increases their renewal price in the future. Although this may seem logical, there is at least one significant reason why it is important to claim on your house insurance regardless of the amount of damage caused.
Future Insurance Claims May Be Invalid
By not informing your house insurance company about a leak and either fixing it yourself or employing the services of a professional to do it, you may be weakening your case in the future. Let’s imagine that for whatever reason, the leak is not fixed correctly, and the subsequent damage is much more severe. Your home insurance policy may not cover this secondary damage due to the fact the policyholder did not report the initial problem. In essence, the policyholder could be blamed for arranging for a poor quality repair to be completed, thus invalidating their house insurance policy. That minimal saving on the policy renewal could transform into a costly mistake.
Understand Every Step of The Claim Process
When it comes to making a successful water damage insurance claim, you must understand the rules of the process. You wouldn’t ever try to play a game of chess without understanding the rules, as quite simply, you would lose very quickly, and the same applies to insurance claims. Before you commence the process, read everything and ensure that you have a firm understanding of all that is required of you. Often when you try a make a claim, insurance company staff will quote a specific part of the policy, which invalidates your claim. However, these can often be standard rebuttals, and the part of the policy being quoted by the insurance company staff member may not even form a part of your policy. If this happens, ask the person refusing your claim to cite the section of your specific policy which negates the claim.
There is a broad range of terms involved in insurance policies, far too many to be explained in this article. However, we have listed some of the most common ones below.
Risk – This is essentially the property that is covered under the insurance policy – in other words, the risk to which the insurance company is exposed.
Peril: The peril is the cause of any damage caused, so it would be water in this instance.
Hazard: The hazard and the peril can confuse some people; the hazard is the cause behind the peril. So let’s assume that the pipes burst, causing the water to leak, which led to the damage. The hazard would be the burst pipes.
Trace and Access: Trace and access is not so much about the cost of the leak itself, but rather the cost of locating and subsequently repairing the damage. The trace covers the finding of the leak, and the access refers to exposing it and any subsequent repair. So, for instance, if the pipe which was leaking was buried under a concrete floor, then the trace would find the source of the leak (not as easy as you might expect), and then the access would cover digging up the concrete to repair the damage. Most policies now cover this as standard up to around £5000 per policy.
Armed with the knowledge of both the terms and what the process involves, your chances of a successful claim are increased dramatically.
Ensure You Understand What Exactly is Insured and What Your Responsibilities Are
Many people are under the impression that when something happens, you simply call the insurance company to report it and then sit back and wait for the insurance company to arrange a repair and pay for the cost of the work. Although that is the ideal situation, it is often not the reality, and this is one of those situations where it is critical to understand your individual policy. If, for instance, your company decides to send around a loss adjuster to discuss the situation with you, it is essential that you have completed your due diligence prior to that visit.
This ensures that you can answer any questions he or she might have and not say something inadvertently, which weakens the strength of your claim. If there is water gushing into your property, the policy may state that it is your responsibility to call out a professional company urgently to minimise the damage. The policy may also state that you will have to pay for the costs initially before being refunded at a later date. If you choose not to read the documents and excessive damage is caused due to you not responding as agreed in the policy document, this could affect your claim.
Read Your Insurance Company Documents
The reality is that most people never read their insurance policy documents until something goes wrong. We believe that you should always read the documents before contacting the insurance company to make a claim, and if your house is suffering from a catastrophic water leak, there will not be any time for that. Set aside some time today or as soon as possible to read your documentation. If you cannot find the documentation, you can normally request a new policy document from your insurance provider or alternatively check their company website to see if the policy is contained within your customer portal. Being in possession of this document is critical when calling to make a claim.
Things To Remember When Calling Your Insurance Company To Make A Water Leak Claim
Never contact your insurance company without having your documentation to hand. Always have a notepad and a pen and sign and date every piece of information that you add to the notebook. Ensure that you receive the name of the person who you speak to and, if possible, their email address. At the end of the conversation, you could even tell them that you will be emailing them a record of the conversation to ensure that everyone is on the same page. If they do misquote any part of your insurance policy, this email will also provide you with the perfect opportunity to highlight and quote their mistake and reference your document as proof that you are correct.
Contact a Leak Detection Service Provider Such As ADI
In most cases, your insurance company will advise you to contact a professional leak detection company to locate and trace the leak source. After all, it is impossible to assess the full extent of the problem without knowing where the leak originates. Without knowing where the leak is, it is also virtually impossible for a plumber to either access or fix the problem either.
ADI is the original specialist leak detection company in the United Kingdom. We have leak detection specialists located all over the country and can typically respond quickly to help resolve your situation, solving damp problems from water leaks. We have invested heavily in the latest leak detection equipment, we even have our own research and development team, and all of our technicians are fully trained and insured. Simply put, if you have a leak, ADI will find it for you!!!
The Loss Adjuster Meeting
In most but not all cases, the insurance company will direct a loss adjuster to visit your property to investigate your claim. This is not something you should be unduly worried about. After all, this is a genuine claim, and you have done nothing wrong, but many people tend to worry unnecessarily about this stage of the process. A loss adjuster is a totally independent party, which is important because they are totally impartial. The good news is that the insurance company is normally prepared to make a settlement offer at this stage of the process. Once the loss adjuster submits their report, the claim is normally settled relatively quickly.
Additional Tips To Ensure A Successful Water Leak Insurance Claim
Although not essential, there are some other tips that can help increase your chances of a successful water leak insurance claim.
Always obtain photographic and video evidence of the damage caused to your property. Use your mobile phone and ensure that you mention the date and time when you are recording the video. This is additional proof of the damage, and although not 100 percent irrefutable, it will undoubtedly assist your case.
Never start the process of repairing the damage until you are 100 percent confident that the leak has been dealt with and is no longer a problem. The last thing you want is to spend money on the repair only for the leak to start again. There is also a huge risk that the insurance company will fail to pay out a second time if the leak repair was not completed properly.
Provided there is nothing in the insurance policy documents to prohibit this, always try to use your own independent contractors to conduct the work. That way, the contractors answer to you and not the insurance company
It is always a good idea to employ the services of a chartered surveyor to assess the damage and produce a professional specification of works for the repairs that are needed. This demonstrates to the insurance company that you are not making any additional or spurious claims.