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WATER : ARE YOU COVERED ?
– By Jack Ressell
Water has become the number one insurance claim , surpassing fire and theft . Approximately 1 in every 50 homeowners will file a water claim in the next year because of water damage to their property , and most of these claims will not be covered by your insurance policy . Water damage has not only become common , it ’ s expensive , with the average claim surpassing $ 10,000 .
What does your insurance cover ? Most home insurance policies will generally cover damage caused by sudden events , such as a burst water pipe , ruptured water heater , and heavy rain , however the claims are very limited , and the damage will not cover important irreplaceable items such as photographs , childhood mementos and heirloom furniture pieces – many of the items we often keep stored seemingly “ safe ” in our basements .
Most policies will NOT cover :
• Gradual or negligent water damage that occurs slowly over time , ie : loose faucets , slow leaks from appliances , or slowly developing cracks in your home ’ s foundation or cracks .
• Mold : While some insurance companies provide mold insurance when requested , they will not cover remediation costs when an issue arises .
• Repairing source of leaks : While your insurance may pay for damage to items due to a burst water heater , for example , they will not repair or replace the appliance itself .
• Water back-up from an outdoor drain or sewer : This coverage is generally not included in a standard home insurance policy , and may need to be requested as a policy add-on .
What can you do ? Read your policy carefully as many items will change annually and notification of these changes is not always clearly advised by your insurance company . If unsure , ask specific questions , and shop around . It ’ s also important to protect your home by purchasing a water detection system in case a leak or flood should begin .
Other precautions should include :
• Ensuring your basement is finished with non-organic materials such as tile or vinyl flooring . Never finish a basement using carpet or wood flooring , as the slightest bit of water can cause mold to grow within 24 hours .
• Whenever possible ( and especially in new home builds ), have your appliances raised by at least two inches on a concrete pad , including your water heater and furnace system .
• If finishing a basement , use a non-porous , nonorganic material directly on the floor , such as Floodsill ( www . floodsill . com ) to elevate partitions before walls go up .
• Protect your personal belongings : Basements are the main areas for flood and water damage . Store all items in elevated shelves , and use plastic bins to store them – never cardboard boxes directly on the floor .•
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