Handling Water-Damage Claims

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Water damage to your home can be expensive and time-consuming to repair. This publication provides information and helpful tips if you have a water-damage claim.  Most information provided by the Texas Dept of Insurance.

Water-Damage Coverage

Homeowners insurance policies don’t cover floods and might not cover other types of water damage. If you want flood coverage, you’ll have to buy a separate flood policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). You may be able to add coverage to your existing homeowners policy to cover things like

  • sewer or drain backup
  • sudden and accidental water damage from a plumbing, heating, or air conditioning system
  • mold remediation.

It’s important that you read your policy carefully to understand your policy’s coverages and dollar limits. If you have questions, call your agent. You can also call the Texas Department of Insurance’s Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439.

After Water Damage

It’s important to stop any type of water flow or leak as soon as possible. Remove pools of water and start drying the area to prevent additional damage. If you can’t remove the water and dry the area quickly, consider calling a water extraction company. Keep receipts from the clean up and give them to your insurance company. The insurance company might pay you back.

Move wet items to a dry room or area with lots of fresh air. Pull up wet carpeting and rugs as soon as possible. If you move items outside, put them in a secure area to protect them from theft.

Filing an Insurance Claim

Notify your insurance company as soon as possible if you have a claim. There should be a toll-free claims number on your policy. Most companies require you to tell them in writing, so follow up with a written notice with information about what happened.

The following tips can help the claims process go more smoothly:

  • Review your policy to make sure you understand what it covers and what it doesn’t. If you’re not sure, ask your agent or the company to explain. Visit the Office of Public Insurance Counsel (OPIC) website at www.opic.state.tx.us to find coverage comparisons for most homeowners policies sold in Texas.
  • Have your policy number ready when you call your company. Be prepared to answer questions about the damage.
  • Take pictures or videotape the damaged area and any damaged property before you make any repairs. This is especially important if you make repairs before your insurance adjuster has seen the damage.
  • Don’t throw away anything you removed from the house until your insurance adjuster has seen it.
  • Make reasonable repairs that are necessary to protect your home and property from more damage, but don’t make large structural or permanent repairs until your company says it’s OK.
  • Write down everything you spend on repairs and keep the receipts.
  • Keep a log that lists everyone you spoke with at your insurance company. Note the time, date, name of the person, and what you talked about. Follow up with the company in writing to confirm important details. Keep copies of letters or other documents you and your company send each other.

Claims Process

After you file the claim, you should hear from the insurance company within a day or two. The insurance company will tell you about its claims process and any responsibilities you have. The company should give you the name of the person who will be working on your claim.

The company must start investigating your claim within 15 days after receiving written notice and may ask you for more information. Once you send the information, the company has 15 business days to accept or reject your claim. If the company says it will pay your claim, it must pay within five business days. If the company rejects your claim, it must explain its reasons in writing.

As part of the process, the company will send an adjuster to your house to look at the damage. It might be a while if there was a disaster and the area isn’t deemed safe. Try to be home when the adjuster comes so you can discuss the damage and answer any questions.

The company will tell you in writing if your policy covers the damage and will give you an initial damage estimate. Keep in mind that the estimate may change. The company might provide you with a list of contractors, but you don’t have to use someone from the list.

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