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Understanding Water Damage Coverage Provided by Standard Florida Homeowner’s Policies

Although water damage caused by burst water pipes, toilets that overflow, or defective hot water heaters constitute one of the most common forms of property damage, homeowner’s insurance claims for such damage can be complicated.  Although standard Florida homeowner’s insurance policies cover water damage for direct physical loss caused by water damage, homeowner’s policies typically include many exclusions and policy limitations that undercut the value of this coverage.  This blog post provides information relevant to common questions our Florida homeowner’s insurance lawyers receive about water damage claims.  While we have attempted to address the most common questions, we invite you to contact us to discuss your specific situation.

What arguments do insurance companies advance to avoid paying water damage claims?

Some of the most common contentions made by insurance companies when denying water damage claims involve timing and deadline issues.  The insurer might contend that the damage occurred prior to the policy period or that the insurer was delinquent in providing notice of the claim.  A common exclusion seen in many homeowner’s policies denies coverage for water damage when a leak has existed for a period of longer than 14 days prior to submission of a claim.  Insurance companies often try to use this exclusion under circumstances which are extremely unfair to the insured.  While a policyholder might not know a leak exists until long after the 14 days if the source of the leak is inside a wall or under the floor, this will not discourage an insurer from attempting to rely on this exclusion to deny a claim.

Will my policy cover water damage caused by a water backup in the plumbing pipes causing my toilet to overflow?

While you might be able to obtain coverage for losses caused by a toilet overflow, you might need to purchase an endorsement for an additional premium.  Because plumbing issues are so common and costly to remedy, the expense might be well worth it.

Why is an endorsement required for a plumbing loss of this type?

Many standard homeowner’s policies do not cover common plumbing overflows because homeowner’s insurers contend that plumbing backups can be prevented by performing proper maintenance.  Insurance companies often argue that these backups can be avoided when toilet clogs and slow draining sinks are dealt with promptly.  Insurers also expect homeowners to engage in periodic maintenance in mitigating problems that can be caused by the accumulation of debris and tree roots.

Insurers also deny water damage claims based on flooding that results from a rising water table.  While disputes might arise about what constitutes “flood loss,” flood damage is typically excluded from standard homeowner’s policies.  While your insurance company can provide such coverage, it will typically be done through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program and necessitate payment of an additional premium.

Are there kinds of water damage claims which are more likely to be covered under a standard Florida homeowner’s policy?

The question of the types of water damage claims that are covered can be a difficult issue, so you should carefully review your policy and discuss your loss with an experienced Florida Homeowner’s Insurance Attorney if you have specific concerns about your situation.  The source of the water incursion often constitutes the key factor in determining whether a water damage claim is covered.  If your home or personal property within the residence is damaged by water that invades the house from outside the structure, the insurer often will dispute these types of claims.  When the water damage is caused by a sudden unexpected and accidental cause within the home, these claims are more likely to be paid without a significant challenge.  However, policyholders should never rely on the insurance company as the final arbiter of whether a water damage claim is covered.  Coverage for these types of claim frequently can be the subject of a legitimate dispute, so you should seek legal advice regarding your rights and options.

Greenberg Stone and Urbano:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Policyholders from Homeowner’s Insurance Companies

If your homeowner’s insurance carrier denies your claim for water damage or a loss from other perils, our Miami Homeowner’s Insurance Lawyers at Greenberg Stone and Urbano will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.


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