Water damage to a home, condominium or business in Florida can have lasting consequences. In addition to structural damage, if the damage is not quickly remediated, toxic mold can develop and cause illnesses, particularly for vulnerable individuals — children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions. Unfortunately, a water damage insurance claim is often underpaid or denied.
The Law Office of William J. Roe has extensive experience helping clients resolve water damage claim disputes throughout Florida. We have a proven history of helping homeowners and businesses fight back against the insurers for denying and underpaying claims. When you become our client, we will carefully review your insurance policy and determine the best course of action. While we prefer to reach negotiated settlements with insurance companies, we are fully prepared to litigate water damage claims.
Florida Water Damage Insurance Claim
Whether or not water damage is covered by an insurance policy depends on the source of the water and the terms of the policy. Water damage resulting from a flood requires a separate flood insurance policy. If the water damage is not flood-related, the property insurance policy may cover the damage, however, the amount of coverage may vary based on the policy.
Examples of water damage that may be covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy include:
- Leaks in the roof
- Water coming from a leaking pipe through ceilings or walls
- Water seeping into a home or commercial property through cracks in the foundation
- Rainwater coming in through a window that was broken during a storm
- Water coming from a washing machine/dishwasher and air conditioner
While water damage often arises from what at first may be “small problems,” water that is allowed to accumulate can cause a lot of damage. It is worth noting that most homeowner’s insurance policies stipulate that water that damages a home prior to contacting the ground is not considered flood water. This distinction is crucial to understand when it comes to determining whether to file a water damage claim or a flood damage claim.
Flood Damage Coverage
Flood insurance is often required in addition to homeowner’s insurance in certain areas that are prone to flooding, particularly in South Florida as well as along the coastline. Determining whether the damage was caused by water or flood can be confusing and complicated. Per FEMA, Flood is defined as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land areas or two or more properties, at least one of which is the policyholder’s property, from:
- Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or
- The unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or
- Mudflow; or
- The collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or other body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding the cyclical levels which result in flood, as defined above.
Therefore, the flood must be on at least 2 acres of “normally dry land or two or more properties.” As such, if your property is less than two acres or if your neighbor’s property does not have flood water, then it would not be considered a flood. It is important to contact the Law Office of William J. Roe if you believe you suffered from property damage due to flooding.
While homeowners in areas that are not prone to flooding are not required to carry flood insurance, failing to do so could pose problems as damage from any flooding events that do occur will usually not be covered under other policies.
Water damage caused by floods that may be covered under flood insurance include:
- Basement flooding after heavy rain
- Overflow from a storm surge into the home or business
- Compromised walls/home structure following heavy rains
- Rising water flooding a screened room or porch area
Given the high cost of insuring against flood damage in flood-prone areas of Florida, private insurers typically do not offer flood insurance; it is usually only available from separate companies under the National Flood Insurance Program.
The Consequences of Water Damage
Water and/or flood damage can leave property vulnerable to additional damage due to weakened walls, doors, windows, damaged appliances (a fire risk), other structural damage, and theft. While such damage may be covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy, damage directly caused by floodwater may not be covered.
Additionally, mold can accumulate in the wake of any type of water event, further damaging the home and potentially causing harm to residents. Mold can cause respiratory problems — infections, bronchitis, asthma, and other health problems, such as skin rashes. Mold damage may or may not be covered under flood insurance or homeowner’s insurance.
Ultimately, insurance companies have a duty to ensure that policyholders understand the types of water damage that are covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy or flood insurance policy. An insurer that fails to do so and intentionally misleads a policyholder may be held liable.
Contact Our Florida Water Damage Insurance Claim Attorney
If your home or business has been damaged by water and the insurance company has underpaid or denied your water damage claim, it is crucial to work with the right attorney. When you consult with the Law Office of William J. Roe, you can rest assured we will do everything in our power to help you obtain the full value of your claim. We have a proven track record of negotiating favorable settlements on behalf of our clients with all the major insurance carriers and successfully litigating water damage claims when necessary. If you are involved in a dispute with your insurer regarding water damage or flood claim, don’t go through it alone. Please contact our office today to set up a free consultation.