Often, much property damage from water can’t be seen
Driven in by a flood, hurricane, or even a tornado, water can seep deep into the structure of the homeâ€”even in hidden areas. Other major causes of water damage include sump pump or sewage line malfunction, a broken pipe, ruptured water heater, or even water used to extinguish a fire. Sometimes the owner is out of town on business or on vacation, only to return to a home saturated by water.
Before Water Damage Occurs
While many disasters are hard to predict, there are some steps you can take to limit your risk before the storm comes:
1. Make your home water-tight
– Ensure your windows and doors are locked and water sealed.
– Check your basement or cellar for water collection and leaks.
2. Get comfortable shutting off your water & do so before the storm
– You should learn how to shut off the water to your home & appliances.
– There are valves you can shut off for water going into your sinks, dish washer, bathrooms, and washing machine.
3. Outside your home
-Clean out your gutters and drains so condensation and rain has a free path from your roof.
4. Document your possessions
- Take pictures of your valuables before any damage occurs.
- Save or take photographs of your receipts for big-ticket items such as your computers, televisions, couches, tables, chairs, sofas, pianos, or other items that may get damaged.
- Keep these pictures and receipts someplace especially safe such as a fire and water-proof safe, a safety deposit box at a bank, or in a secure “cloud” account on the web.
- Some insurance companies may need you to share these pictures with them beforehand, so check with your insurer or agent.
When You Notice Water Damage
If you are the victim of a water disaster, you can do a few things to mitigate or reduce your property loss to prevent additional damage from occurring.
1. Detect the water source and shut the water off as quickly as possible.
Many times there is a pipe that burst; shut off the pipe at its source. If the water is seeping in from outside, take steps to prevent the water from further entering into your property. Less water inside means less damage. Be safe. Consider whether the building you are entering is structurally sound, or whether there may be serious dangers to entering or living in the building. If you are unclear whether the structure or building is safe, use reasonable caution and stay somewhere else. There are hotels, motels, and possibly friends or family where you can stay out of harm’s way. Contact your insurance agent or insurance company to inform them of the loss to your property and the unsafe condition. You will receive a claim number which you should keep on you at all times until your matter is resolved. Contact a public Adjuster at 1800ADJUSTERS to get someone out to see your property and deal with your insurance company as quickly as possible.
2. Take pictures and video of the damage.
Especially these days with digital cameras, you can never take too many pictures. Go back and review the pictures to be sure the lighting is good and that they capture the damage from different angles. If you can, e-mail the pictures where your e-mail is saved so they may be preserved; and, put the pictures onto a digital cloud so they won’t be lost.
3. Be sure you have strong evidence of the way the damage looks before you clean up.
Do not let a restoration company or cleaning crew work on your property until you have taken and preserved pictures of the property.
4. Maintain all your receipts, preserve proof of your expenses, and keep detailed records on the work done or paid for.
Restoration can be a very involved process and you will have to prove everything to the insurance company so these records are vital.
5. Selecting your Restoration Service
In selecting a company to restore your building, rooms, basement, or damaged areas, structure, check around to make sure they are licensed, insured, and experienced.
6. Have professionals look for hidden damage.
Look carefully and have the professionals look carefully, as well. Just opening the door to see the apparant water is not sufficient. Look also for hidden damage. The hidden damage may be located under the carpet, behind floorboards, above ceiling panels, in the walls themselves, in ducts, and where you simply could not see. One of the biggest dangers is the spawning and growth of mold where the water collected or seeped. There are forms of mold that are toxic. Mold can potentially cause you physical harm. Tests for mold by a professional may be an essential part of the damage review process. An experienced Public Adjuster is an expert at locating hidden damage. A Public Adjuster is a qualified professional to look for hidden damage.
Know that you are not alone. There are also professional licensed public adjusters who are ready to help you find all the hidden damage, document everything, and help you deal with the Insurance Company. 1-800-ADJUSTER is a valuable resource to help you get what you should for your water damage insurance claim.