Before, during and after a water emergency
Most people have questions on what the process should be if they get unwanted water in their home or business. The process is a simple one if you know what to do and is overwhelming, scary and confusing if you don’t. This is the basic rundown of what to do about water damage in your home or business.
Before a water event in the home the insurance company will want you to do your due diligence. Due diligence is covered in your insurance contract and are actions that the insurance company will expect of you as regular maintenance. This varies contract to contract but may include such things as: Cleaning your gutters and downspouts, Having your roof repaired or inspected after any damage has potentially happened from wind or hail, fixing known cracks in your foundation, handling any leaks in your plumbing or foundation or trimming or removing dead or dangerous trees.
These are things that you can do in advance to help prevent water losses. But what do you do when water does get in your home? What is the sequence of actions to get a proper water cleanup that the insurance company will cover? There are four simple steps your insurance company wants you to take:
- The very first thing you do is anything you can to stop or prevent further damage from occurring. This is called “Mitigating the loss” and the insurance company will want to know that you did this to the best of your ability. If you have a broken pipe, for example, shut the water to your house off at the main shutoff. If your sump pit is overflowing into your basement make sure that the pump is plugged in and the breaker is not tripped. Take lots of photos.
- The second thing you do is call a water cleanup company to assess and handle the damage. First call a water mitigation company such as Fast Help. Mitigation is the action of preventing further damage. This should be the first company you call regardless of other contractors needed, often times they either have staff who can handle many of the problems or a network of contractors who can handle the immediate situations. Describe the situation to the staff who answer the phone and any that call you back. These companies are best found on Google or Angie’s list but the one key thing to look for is that they are IICRC certified. (IICRC is the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification) A certified company can mean the difference between a properly cleaned and dried home and a home which is left half wet to mold. Also they should come out right away in response to your call, speed is the key to materials not getting wetter or containing the damage to already effected areas.
- After the water mitigation company is on its way, if they don’t have the people or contacts to handle the source of the situation you will want to call other companies to mitigate the loss. If a pipe or sump pump is broken call a plumber right away. Sewage coming into the house through the floor drain will also require a plumber or drain cleaner. If there is a tree that has come down on the roof a licensed and insured tree service as well as a roofer should be contacted to get the tree off the roof and tarp over the damaged areas. Any of these companies should have 24 hour emergency response for such situations.
- Once the contractors have assessed the damage now it is time to call your insurance agent. Don’t start out by filing a claim, call the agent who sold you your policy. Make sure with them that it is covered and if the total of the mitigation and repairs is going to be more than your deductible file a claim. Most insurance companies have a 30 day, 60 day or even 120 day allowance for you to file your claim, which will be noted in your policy. Your Insurance company will respond by sending an adjuster out to assess if the mitigation work was done correctly and give you an estimate on repairs.
Within an hour the water mitigation company should be at your home and within 2 hours any other needed contractors should be present assessing the damage and getting it handled. This might vary if there is a large scale storm coming through the area wherein many homes and businesses are affected but this is a good rule of thumb.
It is very important that if the contractor is certified and uses standard industry pricing that they begin work right away. This is what your insurance company wants. Get ballpark figures from each of the contractors of what they think it will run in terms of cost. It won’t be an exact quote because there is no way to tell how long the job will take until drying is completed.
Ordinarily getting multiple quotes is good financial sense, but in this case it is less important that getting someone started because the longer the water is in your home, the more damage there will be. For this reason get to know a water restoration company that you like such as Fast Help.
To summarize you should:
- Stop the flow of water yourself if you can.
- Call Fast Help or an IICRC Certified company to clean and dry the structure.
- Call any other contractors needed to stop more water from getting into the home.
- Call your insurance company and file a claim if needed.