Most people don't read through their insurance policies thoroughly until they have had a crisis. Even then, who knows where to look for the coverage limits, endorsements and the like in the midst of all the legalese which would petrifies the average person! After all, insurance companies are out to get you right?! NOT TRUE, in almost every instance, and assuming you have a great agent/representative, insurance companies do their level best to cover the loss when the policy allows. However, waiting until it is too late and finding out you chose not to purchase that $50/year backup sewer/drain endorsement, is not a good idea. Trust us! Purchase the endorsement and at the highest limit allowed. If you don't know what you are protected from, how will you know what kind of protection you may still need? Here are some suggestions that will help you be prepared when things go bad at your home…
If you don't understand any of the information on your insurance policy, contact your insurance company or better yet, your local agent. They will have a trained professional who will be able to help you through any questions or concerns regarding your coverage and make sure you have the best coverage (see comment above about sewer drain/backup coverage).
If you live in an area that is highly susceptible to storms, you will want to consider having flood insurance OR you lending institution MAY REQUIRE the coverage. Flood insurance is not included in most homeowners' insurance policies. Check to see if you are covered, if not, it would be a good idea to have this protection. Flood insurance is also recommended for homes that are near any large body of water (oceans, rivers, and lakes).
Most homeowners' insurance will cover water damage-not flood damage. Any OUTSIDE water coming in via window wells, basement doors, cracks in foundations, etc. will not be covered and is considered flood water. Again, flood damage would typically be an additional endorsement and is not always available. Water damage, on the contrary, is considered to be any water damage that occurs in your home that did not touch the outside ground first. Sump pump backups are somewhat of an exception to this, but a simple endorsement to the policy will typically take care of this gap. This would include broken pipes or a leaky roof, etc. BUT REMEMBER the loss has to fall into a category of "sudden, hidden and/or accidental." IF it is apparent that the lack of maintenance is the culprit, homeowners should be fully prepared to face a denied claim. POINT: take the time to maintain your home to avoid this risk.
NO, ALL policies that we consumers own MANDATE that we as homeowners mitigate a loss as soon as possible to prevent the spread of damage. EVERY policy has this language in it! Moreover, most every restoration company utilizes an estimating software that is used by some 90% of the insurance companies thereby eliminating the wild swings in mitigation prices. Each competitor should be within 10% either way of one another. Also keep in mind that the final invoice (unless a self-pay) will be reviewed and approved by your insurance carrier.
Homeowners Insurance MAY not include protection of the item that failed in your home. For example, if you had a broken pipe that flooded your kitchen. The damage to the kitchen would be covered, but not the broken pipe itself. Plumbing costs are typically born by the homeowner. However, if a water heater ruptured in some instances, the water heater MAY be replaced as a part of coverage. This is a policy specific item and should be asked about in the initial stages of policy purchase.
Take the plunge and purchase a battery backup for the sump pump (available at any "big box" home goods store). In many instances this minimal investment can save a homeowner THOUSANDS of dollars AND countless hours of pain. IF you need someone qualified to do the install call us at 1st Call Disaster Services and we'll set you up with a great company. CAUTION: the battery will not last forever but if you only need to power for a couple to a few hours it is money well spent.
A good restoration company can make sure a water damage restoration is done right and that you're out of pocket damage liability is kept to a minimum. We've helped numerous home and business owners and they and their insurance company always appreciate our surgical approach to restoration!