While Florida homeowners enjoy a considerable number of sunny days, they must also contend with the Atlantic hurricane season which often brings with it torrential rainfall and strong winds that can cause water damage. Homeowners may also experience water damage caused by plumbing problems, faulty appliances, or backed-up sewers.
If your home suffers water damage you most likely expect your homeowner’s insurance to pay for the damage. What you may not know, however, is that water damage claims are often denied by insurance companies. Understanding the types of water damage you may experience and the reasons a water damage claim may be denied is important to make sure you have adequate protection in case a storm, flood or another type of event damages your property.
Common Types of Water Damage in Florida
Water is not just the elixir of life but also an integral part of how your home functions on a daily basis. From showering to washing clothes and from drinking water to your sewer system, water regularly runs throughout your house. Add to that the frequent, and often violent, storms that Florida homeowners contend with, and it is not surprising that claims related to water damage are the most common type of homeowner’s insurance claim.
These Florida water damage insurance claims may include damage caused by:
- Hurricanes and Tropical Storms. Florida receives an average of around 40 inches of rain during hurricane season, according to the Florida Climate Center. This rain can cause flooding, roof leaks, and mudflows that can result in extensive damage to your home or property.
- Broken or Leaking Pipes. Although Floridians do not need to worry about frozen pipes, pipes can leak or break for a variety of reasons. When that happens, the flooding that follows can destroy floors, damage furniture, and destroy personal belongings.
- Appliance Malfunctions. Appliances such as your washing machine, dishwasher, and refrigerator all have water lines running to them. If those appliances leak or break, you may experience costly water damage to your home.
- Sewer or Sump Pump Backup. Sewer water backing up into your house can be destructive as well as pose a health risk to your family. The same can be true when a sump pump overflows.
Why Might a Florida Water Damage Insurance Claim Be Denied?
Given the obvious – and all too frequent – risk that water poses to your home, you may assume that getting a water damage claim approved by your homeowner’s insurance company is simple and easy. Unfortunately, that is not usually the case. A water damage claim might be denied for several reasons, including:
- Policy exclusions. Among the most common reasons to deny a Florida homeowner’s insurance claim is that the damage falls under an exclusion. For example, basic homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damage, yet only approximately one-third of all Florida homeowners have a separate flood insurance policy. Moreover, “flooding” encompasses water that flows over the ground into the building as well as water that seeps through foundation walls, meaning Florida homeowners’ insurance policies typically exclude damage from storm flooding as well as from sewer backups and water overflowing from a sump pump.
- Vague language. Most homeowners’ policies have clear and concise language that specifically excludes certain types of damage, such as flood damage. Your policy may also include vague language that leaves the insurance company room to deny most claims. For example, damage that occurred over a period longer than 14 days may not be covered even though a slow water leak from an appliance might not be discovered until damage to your floor becomes apparent.
- Third-party responsibility. Roof damage caused by water can be the result of a one-time storm event or can be caused by the gradual deterioration of the roof. A common insurance company tactic in either case is to claim that a third-party (material manufacturer, installer, repairman) is liable for the damages.
- Repair vs. replacement coverage. A homeowner’s insurance policy may only obligate the insurance company to repair, not replace, damaged property. If the water damage caused a complete loss of property, the amount authorized for “repairs” may not cover replacing the damaged property.
- Procedural mistakes. The procedural steps required to get a claim approved can be confusing and time-consuming. Failing to submit a document or provide requested information can be just the excuse your insurance company needs to deny or delay payment of your claim.
Where Can I Get Help with My Florida Water Damage Insurance Claim?
If your property has suffered water damage and your insurance company has denied your claim or there has been an unreasonable delay in paying your claim, call us at 407-500-1000 or submit our online form today. An experienced Florida water damage insurance claim attorney will explain your rights to you and discuss your legal options at no cost.