What to expect during the water damage restoration process
Since the type and extent of water damage will be different for everyone, the typical process for water damage restoration will vary. However, even though the restoration process is not one-size-fits-all, it’s important to know the practices that make up a standard water damage restoration job.
The following is a timeline of events that may occur during the water damage restoration process, as well as some tips & tricks to help ensure coverage from your insurance company.
Before water damage restoration can begin, there are a few steps that should be taken first. These steps are an important part of the claims process and may help you in receiving a fair settlement from your insurer.
Protect yourself and your home
We all know water and electricity don’t mix. Consequently, if water damage has occurred around outlets or light fixtures, switch off the water and main power supply. Don’t touch standing water before the electricity is turned off and stay out of rooms where the ceiling or floor is sagging. If water has been present for more than 24 hours, either wear a surgical mask or avoid going in the building to reduce your risk of inhaling mold, lead, or asbestos.
Hire a Plumber
As soon as you notice water damage in your home or business, hire a licensed plumber who can locate the source of the leak and provide evidence as to how long the leak has occurred. Insurance companies will not cover leaks that have lasted for more than 14 days, so having a licensed professional determine when the leak began can be crucial to your claim being covered.
If you’re planning to file a claim with your insurance company, be prepared to provide evidence. Take photos and video of the leak occurring, as well as damage done to your floors, furnishings, and any other valuables affected by the leak. In addition, hold on to any broken pipes, filtration systems, water heaters, garbage disposals, washing machines, or any other devices that caused or contributed to the leak. Having this type of evidence throughout the claims process will help ensure coverage from your insurance company.
File a claim and expect your insurance company to do their research.
When you file a water damage claim, the insurance company will either come to your home themselves or send an expert to perform an inspection. Whoever comes will be looking at what the cause of the leak was, how it happened, and what needs to be repaired or replaced. This whole process is called “field scoping” and is done in order to prepare an estimated cost of repairs.
We should mention, there are several reasons insurance companies will deny water damage claims, but the most common is due to what the insurance companies classify as a long-term leak. This is why having a licensed plumber inspect the area first and having photo and video documentation of the leak is important.
When filing a water damage claim, it’s also important to note that not all kinds of water damage will be covered by your insurance. For instance water damage caused by floods, poor maintenance, or long-term leaks will not be covered by a homeowners policy.
What kind of water damages should be covered?
- Sudden and accidental leaks that started less than 14 days ago
- Slab leaks (unless specifically excluded in insurance policy)
- Sudden dishwasher leaks
- Water purifier leaks
- Garbage disposal leaks
- Rain and wind together
- Burst pipes
- Washing machine leak
- Refrigerator leaks
Do Damage Control
After photo and video evidence has been collected and a claim has been filed, there are some steps you can take to reduce further damage to your belongings:
- Wipe furniture dry
- Open cabinet drawers and closet doors
- Prop up couch and chair cushions
- Put small wood blocks, aluminum foil, or foam under furniture legs
- Move photos, paintings, jewelry, and any other valuables to a dry, safe place
- Remove rugs, books, magazines, and other colored items from wet floors or carpet
- Dry curtains by looping them through a coat hanger and placing the hanger on the curtain rod
water damage restoration process
Since mold can start to grow within 24 hours, it’s important to begin the restoration process as soon as possible. As mentioned previously, this process may vary based on your individual circumstances, but most water damage restoration projects will include the following steps:
First things first, the water needs to be removed. We recommend hiring a professional water damage mitigation company for this, as they not only have the proper equipment for the job, but are trained to know where to look for hidden water damage. In addition, depending on the source of the leak, the water involved may contain sewage, urine, chemicals, mold, and other health-hazardous toxins. Professional water damage technicians have special protective gear to wear while cleaning up your home or business and know what precautions should be taken during the process.
Fixing The Leak
Before you can move forward with restoration, you need to fix the leak. Otherwise you run the risk of the restoration job being ruined! If your insurance agrees to provide coverage, they usually will pay for repairing the exact location of the leak but not repiping the entire home or pipeline. To do this, insurance companies will most likely hire a leak detection company or specialized plumber to identify the exact location of the leak and complete the repairs.
Once the leak is fixed, the damaged areas need to be dried out. This prevents further water damage and can impede mold growth. For best results, a water damage restoration company should be contacted for this process. They will use professional equipment such as commercial-grade heaters, dehumidifiers, and air movers to remove moisture and increase circulation. Air scrubbers may also be used to remove mold particles from the air.
We should note—if you’ve filed a claim with your insurance, your insurance company may recommend a water damage restoration company to complete the drying process. However, you should be aware that there are water damage restoration companies that work strictly on the insurance company’s side. These organizations are regularly fed jobs, sometimes 30+ jobs per month, from insurance companies.
Since insurance companies have the authority to dictate how much gets paid out during your water damage claim, they are able to use leverage against their water damage restoration vendors. This means a water damage restoration company hired through your insurance may look for shortcuts in the drying process to appease an insurance company that they regularly work with.
Instead of automatically agreeing to use the water damage restoration company recommended by your insurance, we suggest finding a licensed and objective water damage restoration company that is able to do honest work. The water damage restoration company of your choosing will most likely bill your insurance company directly. As long as the water damage is caused by an incident that is covered in your policy, your insurance company should cover payment for this service.
Lead and asbestos abatement
Although most water damage restoration companies will try to take a minimally-invasive approach to the drying process, in some cases, drywall, insulation, and any other non-salvageable materials will need to be removed. If your house was built prior to 1990, the restoration company may test your home for lead and asbestos, as these materials may need to be handled during the drying and restoration process.
Each state has different rules and regulations regarding lead and asbestos removal, but some states require specially-licensed contractors to work with these hazardous materials. Any reputable water damage restoration company will know the rules for your specific state and will be able to help guide you through the asbestos or lead abatement process if either of those materials are found to be present.
Cleaning Personal Belongings
After the dry job is complete, your personal belongings should be given antimicrobial treatments to prevent mold and bacterial growth. This may include carpets, clothing, furniture, curtains, and any other items that could be affected.
After water has been removed and the drying process is complete, the actual restoration work can begin. Depending on the extent of the damage, the restoration process will involve removing, repairing, or replacing any materials or structural elements of your home that were affected by the leak. This may include drywall, cabinets, hardwood floors, the home’s foundation, and more.
Although some water damage restoration companies can complete the drying process and also repair or replace affected areas of your home, we recommend consulting a well-reputed professional contractor for the job. Your insurance may recommend a list of vendors who will offer to do both the drying and repair job, but often times these vendors either lack expertise or will try to cut corners in order to save the insurance company money. Either way, many homeowners end up unsatisfied with the work.
By choosing a professional contractor that you trust, you’re more likely to get quality results. Plus, since you should already have an estimate from your claims manager as to what your insurance company is willing to pay for repairs, you can negotiate with your chosen contractor to fit within that budget.
How a Water Damage Restoration Orange County Public Adjuster can help
A public adjuster represents the policyholder during the claims process. Unlike insurance adjusters that work for insurance companies, a public adjuster works to help you get the maximum benefits from your policy. Once you hire a public adjuster, you no longer have the stress of battling with your insurance company. Public adjusters will be the ones communicating with the insurance company throughout the entire claim, allowing you to focus on getting your life back to normal as quickly as possible.
Public adjusters are able to negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf to get you the benefits you’re entitled to. Although it’s recommended to contact a public adjuster at the beginning of your water damage claim, public adjusters can also help if:
- Your insurance company is refusing to cover ALE or Loss of Use expenses. A public adjuster can work with your insurance company to get you reimbursed for any living costs you incurred during your water damage repairs.
- You are not happy with the repair of your home. A public adjuster can negotiate with your insurance company in order to get the “like-for-like” standard outlined in your policy.
- The settlement offered by your insurance is not enough to cover pre-loss conditions. A public adjuster can negotiate with your insurance company to maximize your claim settlement, allowing you to return your home or business to its original condition.
Wherever you’re at in the claims process, you may be wondering—why do I need a public adjuster when I can get my own repair estimates and talk with the insurance company myself?
While it’s true that you can go through the claims process solo, most homeowners do not have experience dealing with water damage claims or in-depth knowledge of insurance policies and home repair. Plus, since a person’s home is often one of their most valued assets, it’s easy to get emotionally involved. Additionally, public adjusters do their best to maximize payouts for insurance claims. They know how to speak to insurance carriers to do everything in their power to get you the money you need for your repairs.
What’s more, most contractors and floor experts are not licensed by the Department of Insurance and are not legally allowed to represent you on your water damage claim. Public adjusters, on the other hand, are licensed by the state and can provide legal representation for you throughout the claims process.
Finally, a public adjuster will be there throughout the entire claim to guide and advise you, negotiate with your insurance company, and manage and submit any necessary paperwork. Since public adjusters understand the claims process and negotiate with insurance companies on a daily basis, they have a lot more knowledge than homeowners when it comes to getting a fair settlement. The best part? A public adjuster only charges a small percentage based on what they settle for with your insurance and will do everything in their power to maximize your claim settlement.
If you’ve experienced water damage to your home or business, Excel Adjusters can help. We’ve settled over 4,200 claims and are committed to getting our clients a fair adjustment from their insurance company. Contact us today for a free consultation.