Home Water Damage: What You Should Know
At one time or another, a staggering 98 percent of basements will sustain serious water damage. Frequently, this damage occurs suddenly and with little warning while the house is unoccupied. The residents return to find a layer of moisture has ruined everything it touched.
Legally, homeowners’ insurance companies have a duty to quickly pay these claims, at least in most cases. However, these companies make money by collecting premiums and not by paying claims. So, they delay or deny payment as much as possible. Sometimes with just a simple letter, a Los Angeles insurance claim attorney can prompt insurance companies to make good on their financial commitments.
What Causes Water Damage Loss?
Indirect damage, mostly from fire suppression, is one of the leading causes of water damage claims. In fact, the smoke and water usually causes more damage than the flames. Unfortunately, many policies have obscure loopholes in this area. So, it’s important for a lawyer to thoroughly review your policy and determine your options.
Sometimes, those options might include a separate fraud action against the company. In their rush to close the deal, some insurance salespeople are not entirely honest about the policy’s coverage and limitations.
Direct water losses, such as the ones outlined below, are almost always covered in basic homeowners’ insurance policies:
- Water Heaters: Even the newest and best-designed tank can only contain superheated water for so long. Many failures occur around the valves, because that’s usually the thinnest part of the water tank’s skin. Issues with the supply line may cause a slow leak as well.
- Washing Machines: These gadgets might undergo more wear and tear than any other appliance in the house. Every load involves multiple water transfers which usually go through rubber hoses, not to mention high-speed movement. In occupied homes, washing machine water damage might be limited to the immediate area. But in unoccupied homes, there’s no telling how bad the damage might get.
- Plumbing: These water leaks may not produce much H2O, but they are usually either grey water or black water. The bacteria and other contaminants might cause serious injury or even death.
Generally, homeowners’ policies are “all-risk” policies. If the company denies coverage, the company has the burden of proof to clearly show that the event wasn’t covered by the policy.
Your Rights in These Situations
Typically, the insurance company must pay or deny a claim within ninety days. Companies cannot use excuses, such as a sudden influx of storm damage claims, to delay action.
That payment must be for the entire amount of the claim. Insurance companies must pay the replacement cost of any items to be replaced. They cannot deduct for depreciation, wear and tear, or anything else.
Furthermore, insurance companies must make seamless repairs or replacements. This issue comes up a lot in water damage claims. For example, if half the basement carpet is drenched, the insurance company must probably replace it all, so the repairs are seamless.
If you require legal help, the insurance company usually has a duty to pay these fees. That usually includes any cost for advice as well as actual representation.
Insurance companies have a duty to promptly pay water damage claims. For a free consultation with an experienced property damage lawyer in Los Angeles, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. Our main office is conveniently located on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.
Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.