Water can be very destructive. Clean-up is costly and exhausting. It ruins furniture and carpets. It warps or rots walls. It creates stains or mold problems. Whether you have had a sudden flood or a slow, steady seepage, the question is whether you are covered and what insurance will pay for.
Property Damage From Pipes, Leaks or Water Intrusion
The Florida water damage attorneys at Williams Law, P.A., in Florida, handles all property insurance disputes, including claims for water damage. We represent homeowners, apartment building owners, commercial property owners and commercial tenants, and condominium owners and condo associations. Contact us if you are having any problem with your property damage claim. Our water damage lawyers in Tampa can help you explore your legal options.
Insurance Claims for Flooding and Other Water Damage
Attorney K.C. Williams has practiced in insurance coverage disputes and bad faith litigation for over 20 years. He has handled water damage claims arising from hurricanes and storms, leaky roofs, burst pipes, refrigerator malfunction, backed-up plumbing, drainage and runoff problems, and other causes.
He works closely with clients to catalog all the damage and calculate the full cost of restoring the property. For example, water damage claims may include:
- Water extraction and drying
- Damaged electronics
- Ruined carpeting
- Structural damage to walls and foundations
- Gutting damaged drywall
- Mold growth
- Business interruption or loss of rental value
- Alternative living expenses if displaced during restorations
This is your property. You are entitled to compensation for the losses and hardships due to water. Tampa water damage attorney K.C. Williams can assess your rights under the terms of your policy and take aggressive enforcement action. He is prepared to take insurers to court to hold them to their full obligation for water damage coverage, and he will not allow your valid claims to be dismissed on technicalities.
Common Causes of Water Damage
It is always better to prevent water damage than to have to pick up the pieces after. Recognizing the common causes of home water damage in Tampa could enable you to avoid this issue before it ruins your carpets, floors, or foundation. While each case is unique, several issues cause most water damage situations in South Florida, such as:
- Broken or leaking pipes
- Burst water pipes
- Plumbing system failures
- Toilet clogs
- Broken appliances
- Cracked structural foundation
- Roof or window leaks
- Flash floods
Damage from broken appliances or storms can include mold and mildew, discolored walls, weakened structural foundations, damaged furniture, bug infestations, and wood rot. In general, homeowners insurance companies cover these water damages, as long as the cause was not a flood. Flooding is not the same as water damage. Unfortunately, insurance companies also attempt to pay as little as possible to their claimants for water damage. Take the right steps to protect your rights after suffering water damage in Tampa.
The Difference Between Water Damage and a Flood
Water damage and damage from flooding require two different Florida insurance claims processes. They are separate types of events to insurers. Water damage arises from issues within your home, such as a leaky window or burst water pipe. Flooding, on the other hand, is a natural disaster or weather system. Flooding is the inundation of a home or property with water from surface runoff water, tidal wave overflow, or mudflow. Most homeowners’ insurance companies cover water damage but not flooding. You will need a special type of insurance for flood recovery, while a general homeowners insurance policy should cover more general water damage.
Check with your insurer about coverage for flooding-related water damage. In most cases, you will need to have purchased separate flood coverage through a public provider such as FEMA or the National Flood Insurance Program (or a private provider). If you are unsure whether your property damages count as water damage or flooding, ask an insurance adjuster for more specific definitions under your policy. The insurance company may need to come and inspect your home for answers. Either way, contact an attorney if you need assistance fighting for fair compensation for your losses.
What to Do If Your Property Sustains Water Damage
First, prevent any subsequent water damage from the source of the issue. It is your responsibility as a homeowner to try to stop the flow of water by arranging urgent repairs through your maintenance person. This may include paying for temporary repairs out of pocket until you can file your insurance claim. Failing to prevent future water damage could give your insurer a reason to deny your claim or minimize your payout.
Then, document the water damage in as much detail as possible. Take photographs of your property and areas that sustained damage. Take pictures of all damaged carpets, floors, walls, furniture, etc. Take photos of the damages in their original states, before you or a professional begins cleanup. Consider investing in a property appraiser to come by and estimate the value of your losses and damages. An independent appraisal can give you an accurate base amount rather than having to trust the appraiser the insurance company sends to inspect your home.
Next, file your insurance claim. Contact your homeowners (or flood) insurance company and report water damage. Explain what happened, but do not admit any fault for the damage. Cooperate with the claims process, answering any questions asked as honestly as possible. Provide the insurance company with evidence, such as the photographs you took, and demand a fair settlement based on the value of your losses. Then, hire an attorney to help you negotiate with the insurance company. A lawyer can make sure you do not settle for less than an appropriate amount, even if that means taking your case to court in Tampa.