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Water Damage Claim – Sudden vs Gradual

Understanding the difference between a sudden vs a gradual water damage claim seems simple. But many insureds experience a rude awakening during a water damage event. Investopedia provides this definition for Water Damage Insurance: “Water damage insurance is a type of protection provided in most homeowners insurance policies against sudden and accidental water damage. Water damage insurance does not cover damage resulting from homeowner’s negligence or failure to maintain the home in good repair. Moreover, flooding usually requires a separate policy if available.” Are you a homeowner or do you rent an apartment? If so, do you have homeowners or renters insurance? If you’ve answered “yes” to these questions, then you will want to continue reading to better understand the impact of a water damage claim – sudden vs gradual.

Kristin Schoeffel experienced sudden claim…

On August 13, 2019, USA TODAY introduced their readers to Kristin Schoeffel. She lives in Garden City South, New York. She and her husband bought their home in 2001 and they have insurance. But Kristin admits she never gave her insurance a second thought until that one day in June. She became distracted while doing laundry and left the tap water running in the laundry room sink. The water ran for six to seven hours. Their water damage claim required $10,000 in repairs, while their deductible was $2500.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Kristin and her husband’s experience is not unusual. Consider the following:

  • An insured homeowner turns on the dishwasher before going to bed and awakens to discover their first floor covered in water.
  • An insured renter’s landlord turns off the building’s water supply in the evening. The renter discovers this in the morning when attempting to use the bathroom sink, but forgets to turn the waterless tap back to the off position before leaving the apartment for the day. Result? When the landlord restores the water source, the tap runs continuously throughout the day flooding the entire apartment.

Loretta Worters, Vice President of Communications for the Insurance Information Institute (III), offers: “Water damage accounts for $1 billion in insured losses annually for homeowners and renters, with claims averaging more than $10,000 each.”

Sudden vs gradual water damage claim

What is the likelihood that you may need to file a water damage claim?

  1. Between 2012-2016 water was the third-leading cause of claims
  2. After wind and hail damage, water damage and freezing were the second most-frequent claim
  3. Each year one in 50 insured homes has a property insurance claim caused by water or freezing damage
  4. Damage losses to homes are five times more likely to be caused by water than theft
  5. Water damage is seven times more common than fire damage

In October 2017, our John Bailey Company published Homeowners Insurance Endorsements which provides a quick review of homeowner policy and coverage types. The variances determine which losses for water claims will be covered. Water damage can be caused by the following sudden water damage incidents: accidents, appliances or plumbing (dishwashers, washing machine, hot water heater), extreme storms or weather conditions (weight of snow, sleet or ice), burst pipes, or water infiltration (i.e., leaking roof, overflowing gutters).

On the other hand, gradual water damage happens slowly and often is the result of the insured not keeping their home in good repair. Each home is usually a complex structure, with electrical and plumbing systems hidden within the walls. Problems can go unnoticed for months or years, resulting from little or no maintenance.

Tips on preventing water damage…

No homeowner or renter ever wants to say, “If I’d only known.” Take the time to know how to prevent water damage and if you have a landlord, then keep the owner apprised of any situation that could cause water damage. Remember:

  • A slow leak in a hot water heater, washer, dishwasher or kitchen/bathroom pipe can go unnoticed for months.
  • If you have an older heating system (consider a boiler and radiators), regular maintenance is required.
  • Leaks from faucets and pipes can and do cause damage to ceilings, floors or walls.
  • Inspect your foundation periodically for cracks and water seepage or damage.
  • Walk the perimeter of your home and scrutinize your roof from below. If you notice anything untoward, then call a roofing service company for a complete inspection.
  • It is up to you to be aware and inspect your appliances, showers, tubs, plumbing and heating pipes.
  • Know where your main water shut-off is located.
  • If you’re traveling, shut off the water supply to your washing machine.
  • Be sure you are home and awake if you’re using the washing machine or dishwasher.

Make an appointment to meet with your insurance agent

Our team is here to help our clients insure a great life. Our home insurance policies are not run of the mill, we offer a broad policy customized to meet your individual insurance needs. We invite you to meet with us so that you understand your current homeowner or renter’s policy and consider adding new endorsements. We will answer all of your questions. If you do need to file a water damage claim, we will walk you through the process. Remember to take photos, including videos, of the damage, and, if available, provide an inventory of your possessions.

Remember insuring your home is part of your personal risk management. Call us before something goes wrong! The John Bailey Company will work to provide unbiased advice about policy options and to find innovative solutions to suit your budget and your coverage objectives.

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