Attorney Bill Voss has seen the effects of major flooding and water losses firsthand, and he knows how difficult it can be to clean up afterwards. A big part of the recovery process is looking at your commercial insurance coverage and submitting appropriate documentation of the losses and costs. Although it may seem like a fairly simple task compared to the physical work you put into restoring a property after a large loss, water damage is extremely difficult to repair. Before you submit an insurance claim for major water damage on your business property, you should understand what to expect from the process of recovery.
What Goes Into Restoring a Property After Water or Flood Loss?
Generally, the first contractors you call after water damage will be experts in water removal and restoration. These water restoration professionals will typically look at a number of factors before developing a plan for repair and cleanup on your property. These initial factors include:
- The type of water affecting the property. Clean water from a burst plumbing pipe poses less risk than “black water” from the sewer or debris-laden floodwaters. The type of water that has damaged your property makes a big difference in what it will take to appropriately treat the damage.
- The types of materials involved. Particle board will swell, warp, and disintegrate when it’s wet, but that isn’t a problem with stone tile. The makeup of damaged structures and property strongly affect the approach and costs for cleanup.
- How deeply the structure is affected. In the example above, the stone tile of a floor may not be damaged, but water may still have damaged the subfloor. Water can cause many “hidden” losses, and a professional will carefully identify and evaluate the potential for deeper, unseen damages.
- How long the property has been wet. Mitigation efforts are most effective when they happen immediately after the damage happens. If a property has been standing in water for a long time or wasn’t appropriately treated when the water removed, the damage may have worsened significantly. The growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria also becomes an increasingly major concern the longer a property stays wet.
Once the water damage on your property has been assessed and the work begins, it will happen in several stages, including:
- Removing as much water as possible.
- Removing damaged materials, such as carpet padding or pressboard, that cannot be salvaged.
- Drying and dehumidifying.
- Sanitizing and deodorizing.
- Repairs and restoration.
In the end, all this is only one facet of the physical repairs needed after a large water damage loss, and it doesn’t include the costs of rebuilding, loss of inventory, unique building materials, business interruption, and other concerns. This is why it’s so important to plan your restoration and repairs carefully and make sure you are getting what your business deserves from the insurance claim.
Insurance Coverage for Restoring Flood-Damaged Commercial Properties
Without insurance coverage, the outlook for a heavily water-damaged property can be bleak. Although most commercial flood insurance policies will cover direct damage and much of the cost of mitigation and restoration, there are a lot of challenges involved. For example, you may have coverage for interiors affected by flood water, but you may not have coverage for sewer backup or burst pipes. If you have coverage, the losses may be covered under your standard business insurance policy, additional comprehensive coverage, or a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program. Especially in large-loss scenarios, these complications mean that there can be disagreements about who covers the loss, what is covered, and what caused it.
However, if your claim for water-damage mitigation, mold removal, or physical repairs is denied, it’s important that you review the decision with an attorney. In some cases, insurance companies unfairly deny all or a part of water-loss claim, and it may be possible to assert your policyholder rights for a better outcome. Find out more about when a large-loss claim denial is unfair.
For more information about delayed, underpaid, or denied insurance claims related to a large-loss flooding event, contact the Voss Law Firm directly, or download our free book, Commercial Insurance Claims: The Basics.