How Do I Make a Water Damage Insurance Claim?
Filing an insurance claim form correctly is essential to get your Park City, UT home restored faster.
Water damage is one of the most common reasons homeowners file an insurance claim. To get your claim processed quickly, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with the claims process before you need to make a claim.
How To File a Homeowner's Claim
Filing a homeowner's claim is a multi-step process. Proceeding through the steps in order will help you make sure you don't forget to do anything.
1. Read Your Policy
Your policy should explain what your responsibilities are and what types of damage are covered by your policy. This is particularly important for water damage claims, because most homeowner's policies cover water damage from sudden and accidental discharges, such as a pipe burst, but exclude damage from a flood.
2. Mitigate Your Damage
Most insurance policies require homeowners to mitigate their damages. This means that if there are reasonable steps you can take to prevent additional damage from occurring while you are waiting to get the initial damage repaired, you are expected to take those steps. An example is shutting off the water to your home when you have a leaking pipe. If you have to spend any money to make temporary repairs, save your receipts. Your insurance policy may cover these costs.
3. Contact Your Insurance Company
Call your insurance agent or the claims office of your insurance company as soon as possible to begin the process of filing your insurance claim. Ask any questions you have about your coverage and deductible. Find out how long it will be before repairs can begin. Ask if you need to get an estimate done or if the insurance company will be sending someone out. Drying your property out promptly is important, so you may want to inquire about hiring a water remediation company in Park City, UT, to begin that process.
4. Complete Claim Forms and Other Paperwork
Your insurance company may mail your forms or allow you to complete them online. It may also ask you to submit other documentation. Return the requested materials as soon as possible. The longer you take to furnish the requested documentation, the longer it will take to process your claim.
5. Prepare for the Insurance Adjuster
In most cases, your insurance company will send an insurance adjuster to inspect your home and estimate the amount of damage. Take photographs of your damaged property and make an inventory of everything that was damaged. Gather together any receipts or other documentation that proves the value of your damaged property.
6. Keep Your Receipts for Relocation Expenses
If your home is uninhabitable because of the damage, keep your receipts for the cost of hotel rooms or rent for the period of time you are unable to live in your home. You may also be reimbursed for other additional living expenses, so keep the receipts for anything you had to spend money on because you were unable to occupy your home.
Filing an insurance claim for water damage can sometimes be confusing, but your insurance professional should be able to answer any questions that you have. Promptly and correctly filing your claim is critical for getting your home restored as quickly as possible.
Is Fungus Cleanup Covered by Your Commercial Insurance?
The mold cleanup will not be covered by the insurance if it is a negligence case in your Salt Lake City, UT commercial property.
It doesn't take much time for a water disaster to transform your commercial property from normal daily functioning to impossible to operate. Unfortunately, leaky pipes, storm damage, and backed-up toilets cause much more than an immediate inconvenience. High levels of humidity or a small puddle of water that soaks, unnoticed, into the carpeting can create the perfect environment for mold growth. The good news is that your commercial insurance provides coverage under most circumstances. The bad news is that many policies have a significant exclusion for losses or damage caused by fungus.
Understanding the Fungus Exclusion in Your Commercial Insurance Policy
Many commercial insurance policies have exclusions related to the pollution, fungi, and bacteria present in Category 3 water. If this exclusion is present in your insurance policy, you may have a coverage gap.
What Is Fungus?
Fungus and fungi are broad terms used in the insurance industry to describe many contaminants:
- Any by-products left by any type of fungus
The fungus exclusion means that damage such as dry rot, bad smells caused by the presence of fungi, and the spread of fungus throughout your Salt Lake City, UT, property doesn't fall under your standard commercial property insurance coverage.
Why Isn't Fungus Covered?
Mold damage is generally covered if it happens because of "a common peril." These situations may include a pipe break or some overflow from your malfunctioning air conditioner, for example. This type of damage is covered because it was caused by the sudden presence of water.
Damage is not covered when the insurance company can show that negligence or flooding was the culprit. If, for example, a fixture under a bathroom sink has been seeping water for several years, the resulting mold growth won't be covered. If certain rooms on your property are consistently humid and you haven't used a dehumidifier, your policy may not cover the resulting damage. These are examples of negligence.
If heavy storms lead to flooding and water from that storm travels across the ground before moving through your property, causing mold growth, the damage probably won't be covered unless you have a specific flood or mold insurance policy.
Is There a Solution?
Some insurance providers offer Limited Fungus Coverage. This policy has many limitations. There is often an amount limit tied to one occurrence in your policy year. It may cover the removal and replacement of moldy building materials, such as drywall and insulation. The coverage may pay for testing to ensure that there's no remaining trace of contamination. Additionally, the policy only kicks in if you can show that you have taken all reasonable precautions to protect your Salt Lake City, UT, property from damage.
Are You Worried About Your Coverage?
If you're worried about damage from mold growth on your property, your commercial insurance may cover the cost of hiring cleanup and repair professionals. However, there are certain exclusions that may complicate the claim. Make sure you understand the details of your coverage before damage happens, so you can avoid frustrating delays and limited coverage when any type of water disaster affects your building.
How To Prepare a Home Escape Plan?
An escape plan can save your family's life and yours from a house fire in Salt Lake City, UT.
No one wants to think a house fire can happen to them, but the reality is that over 350,000 house fires occur in the United States every year. Having a fire escape plan in place can help ensure that your family stays safe if this happens to you.
Make Sure Everyone Is Included in Your Plan
Include all members of your household in your emergency escape plan. Pay particular attention to household members who may have special needs:
- Young children
- Elderly family members
- People with disabilities
Children and family members with a hearing impairment may not wake when a fire alarm goes off. Assign an adult family member to alert them. If you have family members with mobility issues or disabilities that may impair their ability to execute an escape plan, assign someone to assist them. Keep pet essentials, such as leashes or cat carriers, stored along your escape route. Assign a family member to look for your pet and attempt to evacuate it. If you can not get your pet out, leave the door open and call for it. Make sure your guests are familiar with your escape plan.
Plan Two Escape Routes
Smoke or flames may make your primary escape route impassable, so your fire escape plan should include two ways out of every room. The primary exit from most rooms is the door. The most common secondary exit is a window. Make sure both exits open easily and that any security devices have an emergency release.
Pick a Meeting Spot
Decide on a location outside your home where your family members will gather so that you can make sure everyone made it out. The location should be in front of the house so that emergency responders can see you. Common choices include a neighbor's house, mailbox, or street sign. Instruct your family members that no one is to go back into the house once they have escaped.
Make Sure Your Smoke Alarms Work
Periodically test your smoke alarms to make sure they work. You should install a smoke alarm in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping room, and on every level of your home.
Stress Quick Response Times
Make sure your family knows that if the fire alarm goes off they must immediately exit the house. Practice your plan at least once every year to make sure everyone can execute it quickly and correctly.
Create a Backup Plan
If one or more family members can not exit through either of the planned escape routes, instruct them to close all doors between themselves and the fire. They should also put a towel under the door and then go to an exterior facing window and call the fire department to report their location.
Plan for After the Fire
Once everyone is safe, have a plan for beginning the restoration process. Call your insurance company to file a claim. You may need a fire restoration company in Salt Lake City, UT, to assist with cleanup.
The most important thing to do if a fire happens is make sure everyone gets out safely. Having a fire escape plan in place will increase your chances of avoiding injury or loss of life.
Reasons To Steer Clear of Flooded Roads
Flood roads in Park City, UT, are dangerous for your vehicle.
Storm season in Park City, UT, often results in flooded roadways. While these conditions are inconvenient and can delay your schedule, that's no excuse to try to drive through a flooded street. It's better to stay at home and miss a meeting than to experience some of the consequences of choosing to leave before the storm has passed.
Extensive Vehicle Damage
Your vehicle was not made to drive through deep water. If you drive on flooded roads, your car may never be the same afterward. There are several common problems that occur when a vehicle is flooded:
- Hydro-locked engine
- Short-circuited electronics
- Contaminated fluids
- Rusted components
Flood damage can cost you a lot in repairs or total your car altogether. While it's possible that a great mechanic can fix what is wrong with the engine and certified water restoration experts can get the funky smell out of your upholstery, it makes more sense to just avoid the problem in the first place by staying off the road or choosing a safer route.
When a roadway is blocked by flooding, the water is often murky. This means you can't see what's happening beneath the surface of the puddle. It's difficult to gauge just how deep the standing water on a flooded street is, even if you try to use the curb or other signposts as clues. Floodwater can quickly cause damage to the road, resulting in cracks or sinkholes that make the stream flowing across it deeper than it appears.
Another potential risk hidden from sight is all the debris that washes into the road during a storm. It's unlikely that the only thing blocking your path is water. Tree limbs, rocks, and other obstructions are probably in the flooded road as well, making navigation even more treacherous. Rather than taking a chance on a street with standing water, tune in to travel tips on the radio to find a better path to your destination.
Loss of Control
The biggest hazard of driving on flooded roads is the possibility of losing control of your vehicle. If the engine seizes up and stalls, you may not even be able to steer it to the side of the road before it stops working completely. You then have to wait for someone to tow your vehicle out of harm's way, hoping that no one else loses control and crashes into it in the meantime.
If the floodwater is both deep and fast, it can carry large objects, such as your vehicle, with it. You may not be able to get your door open to escape, which leaves you trapped in a moving car that you can't steer, going whichever direction the flood takes you. No one wants to be in a position with such an uncertain outcome.
There's never a good reason to drive through a flooded street. If you must get on the road, choose a route with adequate drainage or higher elevation so that you can safely get where you need to go. If no such route exists, it's better to wait out the storm than face the peril of the flood.
Confront the Damage From a Flooded Toilet
The damage caused for a flooded toilet in your business in Salt Lake City, UT, must require professional help.
The sewer damage that results when a flooded toilet overflows throughout your Salt Lake City, UT, a business can quickly add up to a lot of money. The good news is that your commercial property insurance policy probably covers a lot of the damage. With this in mind, it's important that you know which steps you can take yourself and which work should be left to professionals.
Take These Steps Immediately
As soon as you notice the flooded toilet, you need to complete a few vital steps:
Turn off the water. You can do this by lifting the float inside the toilet tank, turn off the valve at the back of the toilet, or shut off the water at the building's water main.
Mop up as much water as possible. It doesn't take long for water to cause expensive damage to your building.
Clean up organic matter. This includes dirt and other substances that may have been in the toilet. You must be aware of the dangers of black water, at this point. The bacteria from waste in the water can have serious side effects, especially during extended contact.
Contact sewer damage cleanup and remediation professionals. In addition to handling any black water and other dangerous contaminants, these experts may point out potential areas of mold growth and help you avoid future water damage.
If the flooding is confined to a small area, you may clear the clog and clean up the mess on your own. However, if there's any possibility that you're dealing with anything other than clean water, you're better off turning the job over to professionals. Depending on how widespread the damage extends, you may need to take additional steps, such as contacting the sewage company.
Respond to Further Damage
If water from the toilet has traveled from one floor of the building to another, it may be necessary for cleanup crews to tackle some demolition and reconstruction. For example, flooring and ceiling materials may need to be removed, disposed of appropriately, and then replaced. Wet materials, including drywall and insulation, may need to be thoroughly dried out, disinfected, or replaced. Your insurance company may require you to work with damage cleanup and remediation professionals.
Prevent Mold Growth and Damage
Mold is a common concern after any type of water damage. High levels of moisture can cause unseen pockets of humidity that provide an ideal breeding ground for mold spores. Unfortunately, within just a couple of days, there may be enough mold growth to encourage the spread of multiple colonies. If you don't know what to look for, this trouble could continue unseen until serious damage has been done. Cleanup technicians may test for mold and take steps to clean up and prevent spread.
Avoid More Unpleasantness
Cleaning up after an overflowing toilet isn't one of the things that most business professionals are excited about. However, when sewer damage happens, these simple steps can help keep further damage under control. Your quick response and the work of professionals is the best way to limit further harm and get your business back underway.
How to Make a Home Fire Escape Plan
A house on fire is dangerous and a traumatic experience.
No one in Salt Lake City, UT, wants to experience the devastation of a house fire, but in order to keep your family safe, you need to put a plan in place should once occur. Experts recommend working with your family to create a fire escape plan and practicing it at least twice a year so that everyone knows what to do.
Here are some ideas for what your plan should include.
1. How to Get of the Rooms.
Every household member should know at least two ways to escape each room in the home. If the fire prevents someone from leaving through the door, is there a window to crawl out of? Teach children how to open windows.
2. How and Where to Find Fire Escape Ladders.
If you have a two-story home, ladders can help people escape through top-floor windows. These are best used by adults and older children. Make sure everyone knows how to use them.
3. Where to Meet.
As part of your emergency escape plan, pick a meeting spot a safe distance away from the home. Everyone should know where it is. It is very important that children understand that everyone will meet at this safe meeting place and that they don’t need to try to rescue anyone on their way out of the home.
After your fire escape plan is established, your family should practice putting it into place. Practice until it can be completed in less than two minutes. In addition, your household can practice low crawling and waking up to a smoke alarm. Teach everyone how to dial 9-1-1 and stop, drop and roll.
The thought of experiencing a house fire is a scary one, but it’s better to come up with a fire escape plan in case of an emergency than it is to ignore the issue. Having a plan in place will help keep you and your loved ones safe.
For more information, please visit us at http://www.SERVPROnesaltlakecityparkcity.com.
Out with the Old: Changing your Pipes
Broken pipe causing water loss in a Park City, UT home
From the 1970s to the 1990s, a specific sort of pipe was used in a lot of commercial plumbing. Polybutylene was thought to be the pipe of the future because it was inexpensive to make and easy to install. After a few years, however, those buildings started having plumbing problems. These pipes are not used in Park City, UT, today because they inevitably wear out, and they cause significant water damage when they do.
Here are some reasons these pipes must be replaced if they are part of your building's plumbing.
1. Exposure to treated water makes it brittle. One of the reasons this particular piping does not work for plumbing is that the water itself destroys the pipe. The chlorine and antibacterial chemicals used to make drinking water safe make the polybutylene pipes brittle and prone to breakage. Over time, they cannot be fixed. They must be replaced.
2. Disintegrating parts get stuck in the water. Another startling effect of this type of piping is that as it disintegrates, it flakes off and leaches chemicals into the water supply. New plumbing made from safer materials is a necessary upgrade.
3. It costs more to maintain than to replace. Replacing these pipes has a comparable cost to replace the carpet in your house. The piping change isn't inexpensive, but neither are all the costs from having to hire water remediation experts to clean up every time you have water damage.
4. It drives down the resale value of your building. Because this piping causes so many problems, it needs to be fixed before you put your property on the market. Most realtors won't even show a commercial property that still has old pipes in it. The pipes must be replaced before the building is likely to sell.
If your commercial building seems to have more water damage problems than it usually does, polybutylene pipes may be the culprit. Have the pipes replaced to avoid additional repair expenses.
Dealing With Flooding in a Commercial Basement
A basement flooded in a Park City, UT, home.
Commercial basements offer plenty of storage options, but knowing the possibility of a basement flood should make any owner question what they store in the lower level of their building. If you happen to have a flood, you should contact a water restoration service in Park City, UT, to assist in recovery. These services will typically come at a flood in a three-step process:
- Water removal
- Debris Removal
However, before contacting a professional service, you might want to contact your insurer to discuss your commercial insurance coverage. Depending on how the flooding occurred, it is possible that your policy could cover a significant portion of the restoration.
1. Water Removal
The primary concern is the standing water in your facility’s basement. The longer it sits, the more problems can arise. The sooner a remediation service can get to your property and begin removing the water with shop vacuums, pumps, and pump trucks, the better.
When the water is removed, the service will attempt to dry out the basement as quickly as possible using fans, air movers, and dehumidifiers. Quickness is essential to reducing the risk of mold.
2. Debris Removal
After a basement flood, many business owners have an instinct to salvage, but salvaging items might be impossible or irrational depending on the type of flood. The consensus among the restoration community is that any appliances or porous items touched by gray or black water should be discarded. Appliances might also need to be thrown away if submerged in clean water.
Once the flooded area is dry, and debris cleared away, the restoration company can begin making structural and cosmetic repairs. When this phase is complete, a business will look as it did before the disaster.
A basement flood at a commercial facility is something that requires immediate attention. Contact your insurance company to learn about your coverage, and reach out to a remediation service to understand your options.
3 Steps To Take After Water Damage
A flood in your Salt Lake City, UT, home it's a severe problem. It must be treated as soon as possible.
If you have water damage in your home from an overflowing toilet, leaking pipe, or a flood, you may be wondering what steps you should take. These three tips will get you started.
1. Contact Your Insurance Company
Most homeowners' policies cover damage for sudden and accidental discharge of water, such as damage caused by broken pipes. However, flood damage is often excluded, unless covered by a separate flood policy. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to get the claims process started. Take photographs of the damage. Keep any receipts for temporary repairs made before the claim settlement.
2. Dry Out Your Home
If it is safe to enter your home, begin water damage restoration within 24 to 48 hours. Waiting longer than this can lead to future problems, such as mold growth. Wear protective gear and have the electricity and gas shut off to your home. Open windows and doors to increase air circulation. Remove wet items, such as carpet and upholstered furniture. Other materials, such as drywall, insulation, and flooring may also need to be removed. If you have extensive damage, consider contacting a restoration service in Salt Lake City, UT, for assistance.
3. Check for Mold
The faster you can perform water cleanup and dry out your property, the less chance there is of mold, but it can be difficult to completely avoid the problem. If you notice musty odors, brown, green, or black stains, or other signs of mold, you may need to have mold remediation done to remove the problem before it gets worse. Mold tends to grow in places with high humidity. Keep humidity levels down by using fans, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers.
A small area of water damage may be cleaned up with a mop and bucket. However, more extensive damage may require days or weeks to fully restore. The faster you begin the process, the better your chance of avoiding additional damage will be.
Individual Assistance Grants From FEMA
Protecting your home in advance will prevent serious and expensive storm damage in the future.
After a major natural disaster affects your Salt Lake City, Utah, home, FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, may be one of the first sources of help. You can seek this assistance as an individual, and one of your first steps should be registering with the agency as soon as possible after damage to your home. You'll need to have specific information and paperwork available:
- Address of your damaged property
- Current contact information
- Insurance information
- Social security number
- Banking information
- Annual household income
What To Expect From Grants
Whether your property has been affected by wildfires or flooding, the costs of recovery, including the work completed by property repair and reconstruction professionals, can be overwhelming. This assistance is particularly helpful for people without insurance or with gaps in their insurance. The grants may cover:
- Home repairs
- Temporary shelter
- Medical and dental expenses
- Childcare costs
- Funeral expenses
- Replacement of personal property
After registering, a FEMA representative will call to schedule an inspection before approving the assistance. It's important to note that scam artists may show up claiming to be official inspectors, so ask for an identification card. Do not provide your credit card or any bank account information because there isn't a charge for these inspections.
Information From Insurance Providers
If you haven't yet experienced a major disaster, it isn't too soon to learn as much as possible about surviving and recovering. Ask your insurance provider about the steps you can take to protect your home against damage from an earthquake, flood, wildfire, or landslide. The more you do beforehand to prevent damage, the better off you'll be.
An Offer of Help
It isn't always possible to emerge unscathed, however, so research the ways that the FEMA Individual Assistance Program could help you. After all, the experience of a natural disaster is scary enough without knowing where you'll be sleeping at night; it's comforting to have many sources of assistance available.