Water damage can quickly ravage your property, leaving you with unfit living conditions and expensive repairs. Typically, you would turn to your insurance provider for the timely compensation you deserve. However, the reality is that most claims are denied or severely underpaid, leaving homeowners to pick up the pieces. Fortunately, you have the chance to protect your rights.
Here at Klotzman Property Damage Law, we believe nobody should have to put up with insurance carriers that act in bad faith. We are dedicated to protecting our clients’ rights and seeking justice. In or out of court, you can count on our team of talented Florida water damage attorneys to seek a swift and effective recovery.
What Is Water Damage, Legally?
In the state of Florida, water damage is defined as the losses incurred due to water leakage in unattended places. Examples of water damage include burst pipes, shower leaks, an overflowing toilet, dishwasher leaks, washing machine leaks, refrigerator leaks, automatic fire systems, and HVAC systems failing to drain.
What Is the Difference Between Water Damage and Flood Damage?
Contrary to what many believe, damages sustained from water and from flooding are not included in the same insurance policy. Water damage is included in the standard homeowner’s policy while flooding damage falls under its own policy.
According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), flooding is a general and temporary condition of complete or partial inundation of at least two properties or at least two acres of land that is usually dry from:
- Runoff or rapid accumulation of surface waters from any source
- Overflow of tidal or inland waves
- Land collapse along the shore of a water body
How Can Water Damage Affect My Home?
Water damage can be harmful to both your health and your property. Here are some of the most common effects of water damage.
Excess water in your house easily creates a habitat for mold. When left unattended mold poses a health threat to anyone in the house and can cause structural damage. Mold can grow just about anywhere in your house, but it particularly thrives in dark sections like crawlspaces. It can grow on wooden surfaces, causing them to rot over time, not to mention unpleasant odors and stains.
Mold has been linked to respiratory conditions, allergies, and even cancer. Individuals with chronic lung conditions are at an increased risk if they reside in a place where mold is present. Kids are not safe as well, as mold exposure has been linked to respiratory conditions even in healthy young ones.
In addition, mold reduces the value of your property as nobody wants to live in a mold-infested house.
Dealing with contaminated water puts you and other inhabitants of the house at risk. Being exposed to dirty water could lead to the development of diseases like typhoid and other conditions that affect the lungs, kidneys, and brain. This water can also weaken your immune system, which is vital in fighting infections.
If you or a loved one drinks contaminated water, you become exposed to unpleasant health concerns like vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores, etc. In addition, you might come into contact with leptospirosis, a bacteria that causes fever, inflammation, and jaundice.
Destruction of Appliances
It’s a no-brainer that water and electronics don’t mix. When water comes into contact with appliances that are not waterproof, you will be looking at dead devices. There is also the possibility of electrical fires, rust, and failures following exposure to humidity or direct contact with water. This could lead to hefty losses as you will have to replace the affected appliance.
Collapse or Decayed Walls
Wood, drywall, and other materials used in the construction of your home can rot or collapse as a result of extensive water damage. In addition to mold, you will be looking at the complete replacement of walls or affected sections.
Water tends to attract all kinds of pests like beetles, ants, termites, and silverfish, particularly those that thrive in moist places. Rodents may also invade your property in the hunt for water. Moths, drain flies, earwigs and other infuriating bugs also become present in your home.
A primary sign of pest infestation is wet carpeting or wet insulation. You may also hear scratching sounds from inside the walls. Keep in mind that these critters make their way through cracks and crevices made by water damage. If this happens, you must conduct the necessary repairs before further damage occurs.
Damage to Other Personal Belongings
Personal belongings can range from personal electronics to important documents. Anything and everything is potentially at risk when it comes to water damage.
What Can I Recover in My Water Damage Claim?
While your losses as a result of water damage may be substantial, note that you cannot recover everything from a claim. As such, during the water damage claim preparation, you should note everything affected and the degree of your losses. The insurance adjusters will then go through your claim and scrutinize each item.
If the damage or loss did not qualify under your homeowner’s insurance policy, then do not expect compensation for that item. Also, bear in mind that insurance companies will try their best to reduce the costs they have to pay for repairs or replacements.
Here are examples of the losses you can recover with a homeowner’s insurance policy following water damage:
- Personal property
- Structural repairs
- Temporary housing
- Temporary living costs
Why Would My Water Damage Claim Be Denied?
Even when it is clear as day that you sustained losses due to water damage, you may be left pondering why your claim was denied. As mentioned above, insurance carriers are always searching for any reason to deny claims or make the least amount possible. They will thoroughly assess your claim, and investigate the water damage and its source in order to determine the losses your homeowner’s insurance covers if any.
Here are some of the common reasons for water damage claim denial in Florida.
Pre-Existing Water Damage
If the insurance carrier suspects the damage was present before the water damage, your claim will be denied as the standard homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover pre-existing damages.
Lack of Maintenance
As the property owner, you have the responsibility of maintaining your pipes, appliances, etc. So, if the insurance company finds out the water damage was due to maintenance neglect, then they are bound to deny your claim.
Insufficient Mitigation Measures
It’s a no-brainer that water is destructive when it makes its way into the walls, floors, personal belongings, etc. Most homeowner’s insurance policies mandate that the insured should take quick action to protect and preserve their belongings and property from water damage. This includes removing and drying waterlogged items, as well as calling a professional emergency plumber.
Failure to do so can be a reason for claim denial. If water damage is extensive, however, you may do everything right and mold will still grow.
That is why it is imperative to seek legal representation when planning to make a water damage claim so that you can get expert advice on the same.
As mentioned earlier, standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flooding. So, if your damage was due to flooding, your claim will be denied. Usually, you have to purchase a separate flooding damage policy.
How Can a Water Damage Lawyer Help?
Whether you have experienced extensive water damage or you have been accused of causing water damage to another party’s property, a water damage lawyer can be highly beneficial. Sorting out caused and damage extent can be complex and may require the expertise of a seasoned attorney.
In addition, the attorney will know the specific laws in Florida to help you recover maximum compensation or defend you from a lawsuit. A Florida water damage attorney at Klotzman Property Damage Law will also help you review your insurance and comprehend your type of coverage.
Next, they will prepare a proper claim on your behalf, build a solid case and negotiate with the insurance provider to help you seek the best possible settlement.
If all does not go well, they will be ready to represent you in court and fight for your rights. At the end of the day, you are bound to have the best possible outcome with the right legal representation.
Hire a Top Florida Water Damage Attorney Today!
At Klotzman Property Damage Law, we are prepared and willing to fight for your water damage insurance claim. We have seen many people take the fight on their own, only to lose more than from the start.
Keep in mind that you will be going against large companies with lawyers and representatives who have been in the field for years. They know how to get out of paying compensation and given your substantial losses, you don’t want to take the chances.
We are aware of all the tactics insurance companies use and so, you can depend on us to fight for your covered damages. Call us today at 954-915-7405 to get started!