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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

In Need of Repairs? Know When to Use Homeowners Insurance

7/17/2019 (Permalink)

For some folks, insurance is a double-edged sword. They know they need insurance in case there’s a disaster, but they certainly don’t want to be faced with a disaster despite the “investment” in insurance. But, the fact of the matter is it’s a necessity and every homeowner should have it. It is a good thing.

Generally speaking, a covered insurance claim is designed to “make you whole”. In other words, it gets your home to the pre-damage condition. In insurance-speak, this is called indemnity. The problem that arises here is claims can result in higher premiums or possible policy cancellations. There are some situations in which an insurance company may question the validity of a claim:

  • The costs of repairs or replacement do not exceed the policy deductible.
  •  The damage and claim fall underneath the exclusions section of the policy.
  • The damage and claim could’ve been prevented. 

It’s possible the last point gave you pause. Surely, a natural disaster isn’t preventable. However, let’s say a natural disaster causes damage to a roof that’s in obvious disrepair. This may end up a denied claim. For this reason, we’ve decided to share some preventative measures and fixes that are more cost-effective to handle yourself versus using home insurance.  

Take Care of Your Roof

Remember when we mentioned the hypothetical roof problem?

If maintained properly, roofs should last about 25 to 30 years. The first inspection should occur 10 years after installation with additional inspections happening every 3 to 5 years.

As far as what you can do on your end, try to look over your roof at least twice a year. Check for damaged or missing shingles. Also, make sure to clean any gutter guards and downspouts so water can flow easily from the roof.

When it comes to a roof, you typically have a good idea of when to use homeowners insurance. For example, if your roof is in great condition and damage is caused by a what your insurance policy considers a covered peril (i.e. fire, wind, hail, etc.), there’s a decent chance a claim is in order. On the other hand, if the damage is due to wear and tear or poor maintenance, a claim denial may be on the way.

Prevent Water Leaks

At SERVPRO of North Irving, we have extensive experience in dealing with water damage. It’s one of the most common house problems out there. Luckily, there are several relatively easy tasks you can take on yourself to prevent a water and insurance mess:

  •  Properly caulk and seal showers and tubs.
  • Inspect pipes for leaks and cracks (have pipes repaired or replaced if needed).
  • In colder temperatures, insulate your pipes.
  • If you use a sump pump, test it every year.
  • Install sewer backwater valves in your drainpipes.

It’s worth noting that sewage backup, as well as the replacement and repair of sewer lines, tend to be excluded by insurance companies. But, some companies give the option to add specific endorsements that extend coverage to certain sewer issues.

Maintain Your Water Heater

Here’s the deal, water heater repairs and replacements are not usually covered by insurance. It’s also safe to say that if damage results from an old or malfunctioning water heater, your policy is not going to cover it. You have to stay on top of maintenance and replace equipment when necessary.

Depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations, test your pressure-relief valve and flush the tank on a regular basis. If you hear the unit making loud or strange noises or you see rust-colored water leaking out, there’s probably an issue. Also, if the water heater is around 10 years old, it may be time for a new unit.

Protect Your Foundation

Many insurance policies exclude problems caused by cracks in the foundation which means proper care is key. Ensure the soil around your house slopes away from the foundation (6 inches over a distance of 10 feet). Additionally, safeguard your foundation from excess water by pointing sprinkler systems away from the home.

If you start to notice signs of water in your basement (musty smell or water stains), apply water sealant to the walls and floors. Also, be on the lookout for evidence of mold. If it exists, it may be in your best interest to hire a mold remediation specialist. Mold is a pathogen that can be harmful to your health, so it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Care For Your Appliances and HVAC 

In general, an insurance company is not going to cover claims involving the malfunction or the normal wear and tear of  HVAC units and appliances. If there are issues, you usually have to either troubleshoot it on your own or hire a technician to make repairs. If your appliances shock you, it may be indicative of an electrical issue. Unless you are an electrician, it’s a smart idea to hire a professional to inspect.

While it’s true there’s not a one-size-fits-all care manual for all appliances and HVAC units, there is one task that’s consistently recommended by all manufacturers: On a regular basis, check for damaged hoses and replace them immediately. With an HVAC unit, don’t forget to replace all the hoses every five years.

Connect With A Professional To Handle Repairs And Inspections

As you’re probably well aware of, insurance companies vary in what they do and don’t cover. It is good to seek advice from an insurance agent or consultant to get a definite answer as to when to use homeowners insurance.

That being said, there is a chance your policy may cover various services offered by fire and water damage restoration companies. While wholly contingent upon the provisions of your policy, there could be coverage for services like biohazard cleanup, mold remediation, and fire and water damage inspection, cleanup, and restoration. It might also provide cover for reconstruction services as well.

How do we know all this? At SERVPRO of North Irving, we’ve helped tons of customers navigate insurance claims related to our services. We accept all insurance and work with companies to ensure the claims process and paperwork go as smoothly as possible. 

If you’re in the Dallas area and looking for certified professionals who handle fire and water cleanup, look no further! Connect with SERVPRO in North Irving today! 

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