Water damage can occur whenever water creates a destructive environment to the materials in which it comes in contact. This can include damage to the physical structure, such as flooring and sheetrock, as well as personal belongings. The damage can be caused by a sudden event, like a burst pipe, or a slow leak.
Taking care of the excess water quickly is important for preventing additional issues. Water-damaged items can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew, potentially making your home unsafe to breathe in. If the damage is severe there are specialized cleanup companies who can be called to assist. Take pictures along the way to record the damage prior to disposing of any items.
Once initial cleanup is complete, your next step for dealing with water-damage will likely be to file a claim with your insurance company. Prior to placing the call, review your policy so you understand precisely what benefits or limitations are present. You coverage will likely cover an accident, but may not cover items considered to be caused by negligence. Do not guess on the cause, and do not provide any information that is not required to begin your claim; that being said, do not attempt to lie to your insurance company in order to keep your claim moving. This is considered as fraud and is illegal.
As you start your claim, be prepared to share the photographs of the damage with your insurance company. The pictures should include a clear shot of the source of the issue, such as the broken pipe, if possible. If the water damage is the result of a roof leak, take pictures of the ceiling area where the water leaked in. Be aware, it is likely unsafe to get on your roof to find the source, as the damage can compromise the roofing materials. You may need a professional to document that information on your behalf.
Take care not to mix up the term “water-damage” with “flood,” as these are not interchangeable. If a pipe broke and filled your basement full of water, do not refer to this as a “flood.” Insurance companies often define a flood as an act of nature whose rising waters infiltrated your home, and there is special flood insurance to deal with that. Instead, try using “filled,” “pooled” or other language in its place. By avoiding incorrect terminology, you can help keep your claim moving forward appropriately.