Handling difficult water damage insurance claims

Water everywhere and not a drop of coverage is a serious homeowner insurance industry trend.

Please be aware that flood insurance takes 30 days to go into effect.  Mudslide riders may be quicker to add to your current policy.

Mud flow is a very complicated issue, especially when a fire precedes it.    For homeowner’s that would not typically need it, but whose home is at risk due to a wildfire, may have coverage under their regular policy.  The “proximate cause” requires professional guidance.  United Policyholders just wrote article that  explains how coverage can be negotiated, dealing with damage originating from a neighbor’s parcel and even get your insurer to help pay for mitigation before an event occurs, if there is a risk of loss.  Read more here.


“Back-up of Sewer or Drain Endorsement” is typically an additional rider on your policy.  It is a very common cause of damage to homes and businesses, especially those located in flat areas or near the bottom of slopes after major rain events.  It has become a common need to request a “Back-up of Sewer or Drain Endorsement” on your policy.

If you think your home is at risk of a sewage backup, please visit this link for some suggestions to avoid it happening.

Below is a story of how an insurance company handled a sewer back up in which the customer PAID for the extra policy endorsement.  The resulting $1.5 million claim in damage was DENIED.

In 2008 a severe rainstorm dropped seven inches of rain over the weekend.  The insured filed a claim and the insurer’s adjuster interviewed the customer and asked if the drains were blocked. Unaware of the later policy implications, the owner answered NO and the adjuster noted it in the claim file, which became the basis for denial.

TipsFromSurvivors suggests you get video evidence of the sewer and drain blockage, or else risk denial of the claim because the insurer may later argue some chain of causation that includes flood…. Read more here.

The insurance company responsible for this claim in this story was the Hartforrd.  TipsFromSurvivors hates this company (and their marketing arm AARRRRP!) so passionately that they are the reason this website exists.  Avoid them please.

Before filing your claim

Be aware that a claim can get off to a bad start if you report it using “hot button” words like “mold” or “flood.”

Those words may sound harmless to you – but insurance representatives today are trained to think “excluded” when they hear them, and they may not accurately describe the cause of your damage or loss.  You’re better off explaining that your property has been damaged in a SUDDEN AND ACCIDENTAL event.

  1. Be aware that asking about a POTENTIAL claim can also affect rates — even if the claim is never filed.
  2. Read your policy.
  3. Make arrangements to have the damage thoroughly inspected by a qualified professional. (Photograph and video the damage and source, if possible)
  4. Do NOT answer any questions from insurer until you understand the situation.
  5. If you need help understanding your situation, consult an experienced policy holder lawyer or use United Policyholders “Ask an Expert” forum.

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Be informed. Choose wisely.

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