Home Insurance Question

Deb5231September 17, 2002

Filing a claim with our homeowners insurance for a plumbing problem and water damage. Adjuster states insurance only pays for water related damage but not actual plumbing work. Does this make sense? I assumed homeowners insurance would cover it all. Thanks for the help.

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Damage was from a slow leak from a pipe. Problem is pipe was covered behind a wall and in the ceiling. I read that slow leak clauses are designed to protect insurance companies from people who don't maintain their homes. We would have gladly maintained or got the leak fixed if we knew about it. Seems unfair since we had no idea this leak was going on.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2002 at 12:04PM
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In all cases I know of, homeowner's insurance pays for the repair of damage done, but not for the plumbing itself, which is considered wearout and normal maintenance.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2002 at 1:04PM
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It's pretty standard. The insurance company will pay for any damage caused by the failure of something in the home, in this case your water pipe, but will not pay for the actual repair/replacement of the thing that failed. They feel, as you stated, that normal inspection and maintenance of a home is the owners responsibility. Otherwise, every time something wore out the homeowner would enter a claim with the insurance company to replace it. Thus the maintenance of the home would become the financial responsibility of the insurance company!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2002 at 1:05PM
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The damage is going to be your biggest part of the bill. All the damage to the walls etc. that need to be cut out to get at the pipe should be covered. Only the repair of the pipe will not be covered. Make sure your plumber gives you separate bills.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2002 at 3:24PM
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Ok, but what I dont understand is how am I supposed to maintain something I cannot see. What does the insurance company expect me to do, rip out the floor and ceiling every year to look for leaks? I could see if this pipe was in a visible spot like under the sink or something. But it was covered up. Its not like I knew about it and let it continue. Doesnt seem right some how.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2002 at 4:16PM
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How are you supposed to maintain something you cannot see? That's just part of owning a house. Why should the insurance company have to maintain it? They don't even own it.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2002 at 5:17PM
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Deb, Lots of things are defined as "maintenance," that would be impossible to know needed fixing at the crucial moment, and slow leaks in pipes sealed inside a wall would be an example. The link below may be overkill for your needs but it may also have some answers to your questions about insurance companies and how they decide what is covered and what's not.

Here is a link that might be useful: POA

    Bookmark   September 17, 2002 at 6:14PM
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Something else to think about when it comes to filing insurance claims for water damage. I had a water heater leak (5 yr old water heater) causing water damage to carpets, pads, interior walls and laundry room about a year ago. Received my renewal policy and there was an increase of $225 annually. I questioned and was told all home owners insurance increased this year greatly. I was told it wasn't because I had a filed a claim. I called around trying to get cheaper insurance and no company would insure us. Most insurance companies no longer write new policies if you have filed a water damage claim in past 3 years. Have a friend who purchased a new home and they are having problem getting home owners insurance because they filed a water damage claim at last resident. If I had known that I would have paid the claim myself.. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2002 at 3:28PM
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cruzg your right on the mark. Since I sell insurance I didn't really want to be the one to do down this road. However, it is a very critical issue today and as homeowners everyone must start paying attention to this. I have seen purchases and refi's go south because of homeowners insurance. Water and the damage it leaves (ie: mold) is a big issue right now. All the building and roadways we are amassing right now leaves less and less ground for sudden down pours and long heavy rains to be absorbed. Where does the water go?
SquishyBall, if you shouldn't be responsible for something you can't see, why on earth should your insurance company be responsible for it? Insurance is a shared risk, operative word being "shared". You do your part, they'll do theirs. People, I can't stress this enough. Gone are the days of the "I'll just put in a claim, that's what insurance is there for". That roof that may be 29 years old and need replacing, replace it, it's part of owning a home. Those personal items that mysteriously disappear from your parked car, put them in a safe place. Save your claims for the big one, odds are it will happen to each of us in our lifetime. It's a numbers game. Didn't mean to rattle on about this, just this morning alone I had to tell 3 people I could not help them with their homeowners, 2 of them were being non-renewed for claims.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2002 at 3:16PM
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Thanks all for the helpful information. Im learning about this as I go. Ive been getting a lot of useful information from the insurance sites as well.

TwoAcres or anyone, most of the sites on the internet regarding insurance claims state that in most cases filing one claim will not make your rates go up, is this not true?

From insure.com
"When it comes to auto insurance, filing a claim can have serious repercussions because your insurance company might jack up your premium the next time you renew. But what happens when you file that first homeowners claim? Will your premiums skyrocket or stay the same?

According to insurance companies, nothing happens. One company's representative even laughed at the thought of premiums going up because a homeowner filed a single claim. Spokespersons for many of the 10 largest homeowners companies went out of their way to stress this: "A single claim, almost regardless of its size or type, won't raise premiums.""

    Bookmark   September 20, 2002 at 10:38AM
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I think the answer to this is in the interpretation. Sorry. Company I write with offers a substantial claim free discount. If I have a homeowner that suffers a claim, more than likely they will loose the claim free discount upon renewal. Companies are also surcharging for claims. Another thing they will do, and this is critical for those of you who have been claim free for the past 3-5 years, if you have been with your company for a lentgthly period of time, (10 plus years), some companies will "forgive" that first incident. This also applies to auto insurance. Same principles. If you are receiving a preferred driving discount and get a speeding ticket or other violation, accident etc., you will at some time lose your preferred driving discount. Usually not immediately, sometimes that takes one or two renewals. Accident forgiveness also applies here. The point I am trying to make is, if you need to file a claim, do your homework first. Don't leave everything to your insurance company. Your home is your second greatest asset. If you suffer damages, call some contractors and get some estimates before submitting a claim. If its manageable for you to repair/replace damages, then do so. If not, call your agent and discuss options, question what will happen as a result.
I hope this is what you were looking for.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2002 at 1:31PM
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TwoAcres, then what is the point of having insurance in the first place? You pay and pay, don't file claims, then, when you finally have to file one or 2 claims, your insurance premiums go up and you can't get another company to insure you.

It sounds to me like the only ones to benefit are the insurance companies. We've had the same insurance carrier for home and auto for years, but when we received our most recent renewal notice, they informed us that they no longer cover anything related to mold damage, which is a big problem in this area.

The neighbors across from us have been unable to reside in their home for the past 2 months because of a black mold outbreak. They are out well over $30,000 so far, none of which is covered by their insurance carrier.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2002 at 4:00PM
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I understand the frustration, I have been a homeowner and I insure my entire family. What I am saying is save it for the big ones. There is another post out there regarding homeowners insurance and a leak from the ice maker. $20-25k in damages, that's what it's for. Yes it's also for the new roof if its damaged in a storm. What I see and ask my insurers to avoid is the small petty claims. The other day I had someone here and had to tell them no. In less than one year they had a water claim for $6800, a wind claim for $427 and a theft claim for $800. Now of the three, most definately agree with the big water claim. Wind happens, in this case it was a tree branch, why couldn't they pay that and the theft claim, $800 and by their own admission probably someone they knew. Point here, if they has assumed the risk and loss on the smaller stuff they wouldn't have been dropped. The other two just killed them. The $1227 dollars they got from the insurance company, no doubt will go towards increased premiums for the next 3 years and more than likely they will end up in a state insurance pool. Would you insure that?
I know the mold issue is a big one. I can't say as I have had allot of experience with that one as we don't have a big issue with it here in IL.
More than likely things will settle down in this market, they usually do. All I am suggesting for now is to use your insurance wisely. There are allot of companies getting out of the homeowners business, their getting out because they are losing money at it.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2002 at 6:28PM
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TwoAcres - about what size claim would you say is reasonable to make against homeowner's? My impression was that a $6800 water claim wouldn't even be close to large enough to be worth the hassle of claiming, and that pretty much my insurance is there in case the house burns to the ground or something. And I am carrying an umbrella liability policy over that for peace of mind, again knowing that I'm still screwed (but less so than I would have been without it) if it ever gets used.

If claims of

    Bookmark   June 30, 2006 at 11:22PM
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heh, thread is a few yrs old// till you and I posted, prior last post was Mon, Sep 23, 2002

Im in florida and need insurance this month from somebody as my insurer will not renew the home owner policy
:Reason: Hurricanes.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 7:03AM
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One other nasty thing: If you are buying a house, and the previous owners had claims, it can affect the cost of YOUR new insurance. In fact, it may prevent you from even getting insurance.

If you are planning to sell your house, you may want to avoid making claims too. It could ruin a sale if you are in escrow and the buyer discovers late in the game that the insurance will be exorbitant, or impossible to get.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 7:17PM
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jillofall's response was spot on!

I think that one of the worst things you can do is file a claim for water damage. Many homes have been condemned because of mold problems, and if your house has any history of water damage, not only will you find it dificult to get insurance, you might never be able to sell it.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 8:05AM
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I once had a leak around the flashing (?) of the chimney. Water seeped in through the chimney and down the wall. I paid for the roof repair myself, but filed a claim for carpet cleaning and drying. A week or so later the wall started getting mildew, so I notified the insurance company and was shocked when they told me there was no relationship between the wall getting soaked and the mildew. I wrote a letter to the state insurance commissioner with a copy to the insurance company and had two adjusters show up at my house a couple of days later. They inspected and agreed to repair the damage.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2006 at 3:15AM
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mikie, I'm in FL too. Good luck finding insurance, I hope you're able to find a company with out resorting to Citizen's. I have heard that people being forced to use Citizen's are being charged 3&4 TIMES what they were paying previously before their insurance dropped them. We had minor roof damage from Wilma, didn't file a claim fearing we'd be dropped. Our premium was due in June, 1 week after receiving our payment they sent us a letter that they were dropping us, no explination. When DH called to find out why, they said they are no longer covering anyone with screen enclosures. HELLO, we never had a screen enclosure! We got it straightened out, but it showed how quick they are to drop us in FL. GOOD LUCK

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 8:08PM
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