What Should You Know When You Have Home Water Damage?

Home Water Damage

Dealing with water damage in your home can be stressful as well as disheartening. Water from broken or leaking pipes, malfunctioning appliances, fixtures, or even a sewer or septic backup can cause incredible amounts of damage in your home. When there is water damage, it needs to be dealt with quickly and effectively to prevent it from getting out of hand.

Read your Insurance Policy First

Most policies only cover water damage that occurs inside the home. If, for example, temperatures went well below freezing and caused the pipes inside your home to burst, the resulting damage from water is likely covered by your homeowner’s policy.

In the insurance industry, there’s a distinct difference between water damage and flooding. Your  will probably not cover any damage that has occurred as a result of a flood. If you live in a flood-prone area, it’s a very good idea to purchase separate flood insurance. This is often offered by the federal government. The money you spend on this specialized type of insurance is significantly less than what you would have to pay out of pocket for damages which may include extensive repairs or even entirely rebuilding your home.

When water damage occurs as the result of flooding or other similar “Acts of God”, without extra insurance coverage, you will likely end up paying for everything out of your own pocket. This is also the case in sewer or septic backups. These require that you carry a special endorsement on your insurance policy in order for them to be covered.

All of these details can be found within your homeowner’s policy. Read it carefully and be sure to keep this important paperwork both up to date and in a place that is easy to access when needed. If you have questions regarding the specifics of your homeowner’s policy or whether something is covered, give your insurance agent a call.

What to Do When Water Damage Occurs

  1. Determine Where the Water is Coming from & Stop It – The most important thing to do in order to lessen the damage and expense from water is to track down where it’s coming from and shut off the flow. The quickest way to stop it is to turn off the water supply to the house. In most homes, however, there are also shut off valves which go to different areas of the house. These will turn off the supply lines to where the leak is occurring.
  2. Inform Your Insurance Company – After you have stopped the flow of water, call your insurance company as soon as possible. Most insurance companies have a 24-hour hotline to call in order to notify them of any incident. Even if you don’t believe that the damage that has happened is something that your insurance company will cover, call anyway. Your insurance representative can often be a great resource for finding repair persons or taking next steps to save your home.
  3. Take Pictures – Remember that for insurance purposes you’ll need to have as much detail and documentation as possible. The camera on your phone is certainly good enough when taking photographs of any water damage. Be sure to take lots of pictures from different angles as well as close-ups.
  4. Other Documentation – If your water damage occurred as the result of damage caused by the negligence or actions of another person, gather as much information as possible about them. If, for example, someone drove their car into your kitchen, get all the pertinent information possible like name, address, license number, their insurance carrier, policy number, car make and model, and the VIN number.
  5. Water Removal – Getting the excess water out of your home and preventing any more water from coming in is the next step. You can do the work yourself; however, businesses which specialize in water removal are your best bet. Many of these professionals have tools and techniques at their disposal that the average homeowners won’t. Your insurance company may also have specific instructions you’ll need to follow. Do those to avoid problems with your claim later.
  6. Ventilation to Prevent Mold and Mildew – If weather permits, be sure to thoroughly ventilate the affected areas to help dry up any excess water and prevent further damage. A professional water removal service provider will know what to do in order to prevent or stop further damage most effectively. They will also have training in order to determine if mold or mildew is present.

When there is water damage or the threat of water damage, time is not on your side.  It’s important to get the leaks stopped and the water out of the dangerous areas as soon as possible.  Doing this will help you minimize the water damage to your home.


Michael is the head of public relations department at ServiceProsLocal.com with primary focus on customer satisfaction. His main talking points are water damage restoration, environmental friendly house building and plant cultivation.

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Enhanced Insurance is not written by attorneys. If you’re looking for legal advice, you need to contact a lawyer. Further, insurance practices and forms change constantly and are varied from state to state. For definitive answers in your area, contact a local agent.

While the majority of people want an agent involved in their purchase of insurance, many people want to see if they can save money by buying direct from the insurance company. Others want to try a direct quote to make sure the premium they’re now paying through their local agent is fair. If you want a quote for your coverage, click on the competitive quote button on the right side of this page.

Jim operates an insurance agent network called Insurance Partners, aggregating agents in the Midwest for over 25 years. He was National Agent of the Year for Metropolitan in 1993 and Midwest Agent of the Year for Travelers in 2011. He served as a founding board member of the Surplus Lines Association of Minnesota.

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