If My Water Heater Leaked, Will My Homeowner's Insurance Cover the Cost of the Damages?

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

As a homeowner, you've probably dealt with your homeowner's insurance provider on several occasions. Even if you've never filed a claim, it's likely that you've interacted with its customer service department or looked to a member of its management team for clarification on a pricing issue. Since many homeowner's insurance companies raise their rates without warning, it's possible that these interactions haven't been particularly pleasant. Many providers' customer service departments are notorious for providing misleading or unsatisfactory answers to billing-related questions.

If your water heater leaks or ruptures and causes a serious spill in your house, you have every right to notify your homeowner's insurance company. In fact, most home improvement experts advise homeowners to file water-related insurance claims before talking to a cleanup specialist or plumber. Depending upon the policies of your homeowner's insurance provider, your failure to report such an incident before cleaning up the resultant mess could actually jeopardize your claim. To ensure that you aren't forced to pay for your home's repair costs out of your own pocket, call your provider's claims hotline immediately after discovering the problem.

Once you've notified your provider of the issue and filed a preliminary claim, you'll need to find a reasonably-priced cleanup specialist. In a high-pressure situation, it may be difficult to compare quotes in a rational manner. After all, the leak could be getting worse with each passing minute. Unfortunately, you'll need to resist the urge to patch the leak or clean up the spill on your own. When the cleanup team finally arrives at your home, it's important that they see the full extent of the problem.

It's also important that you select an affordable, well-reviewed cleanup specialist. If you're unable to do so, you might quickly come into conflict with your homeowner's insurance company.

After you file your claim and take care of the initial spill, a claims adjuster will visit your home and assess the damage. Based on this assessment, he or she will issue an estimate of the total value of the damage to your home. If you feel that this estimate is too low, you may need to get a second opinion from a qualified appraiser and retain a lawyer to help pursue your case.

In the meantime, you'll need to submit the cleanup team's bill to your carrier's claims department. Based on your claims adjuster's appraisal, your carrier will determine whether this bill is too costly. If it is, this portion of your claim may be denied outright.

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