Water Damage Claims in South Carolina
If your South Carolina home or business experiences water damage, action is required immediately. If left unattended for even a short period, FEMA informs us that mold and mildew can start growing within 24-48 hours. Filing water damage claims with your insurance immediately can be a smart decision
So if a water supply pipe breaks or a washing machine overflows or any other water disaster happens on a Friday, don’t wait to do something about it until Monday. And that includes informing your insurance agent. Even on weekends, most insurance companies provide 24/7 hotlines that will start the claims process and give you advice about cleanup.
Unless you can completely clean and dry up a spill yourself, you need to contact a water damage restoration company. Your insurance company might not want to recommend any specific company, but they should at least help you find several nearby options to choose from.
NOTE: If you’re unable to contact your insurance agent at the time of the disaster, follow up during normal business hours. Why? Because although both the insurance agent and the insurance company have been informed about the situation, it is the agent’s job to have your back and ensure that the response from the carrier is timely and satisfactory. An agent can also help negotiate any settlements for damages. That’s one reason why working with an independent agent is sometimes recommended.
Meet With Your Adjuster in South Carolina
After letting your insurance company know about the water damage, they’ll send an adjuster to your home or business. That person will assess the damage and take pictures and measurements of the affected area. He or she will also ask about when and how the damage occurred. Their goal is to:
- Estimate how much repairs will cost
- Establish whether anyone was at fault
If it was your fault, don’t panic! Unless you deliberately caused the problem, you’re covered. That’s what insurance is for, to financially protect you from accidents. Even dumb ones. For instance, if you leave a candle burning next to some drapes and it results in your house burning down, you’re covered, even though it was obviously your fault. The same with water damage. You may attempt to install a new toilet. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, water may flood your home. Well, you’re still covered.
But, if someone else was at fault, your insurance company wants to know about it. For example, let’s go back to the improperly installed toilet. This time, it wasn’t you but a licensed plumber who put it in. And they should have known what they were doing. In that case, your insurance company may decide on subrogation and demand payment from the plumber’s insurance company, which protects you and your insurer from paying for losses that weren’t your fault.
Another example is if your washing machine overflows. Your insurance carrier might attempt to collect damages from the manufacturer of that unit if the problem was due to a malfunction. The good news is that if they can subrogate, you may not have to even pay your deductible for that claim.
Actual Cash Value Vs. Replacement Cost
After the adjuster has finished their evaluation, they’ll send you an estimate of what they believe it will cost for repairs. It will more than likely include a line item list of labor and materials needed to finish the job. Depending on how large the claim is, they might also send a check that covers all or part of that amount so that work on repairs can get underway.
Be forewarned; the settlement figure may be lower than what you were expecting. If you have an “actual cost value”, or ACV insurance policy, it will only cover the value of how much your property is worth today, not what you originally paid for it or the amount it would cost to make it brand new. For instance, if you spent $10K on cabinets 20 years ago, the settlement you receive would be for $10K minus depreciation. But if you have replacement cost insurance, your claim will cover either restoration of items to their original condition or replacing them with new items of the same kind and quality as the lost ones with no deduction for depreciation.
Yet insurance companies have another way to pay you. It’s called “depreciation holdback”. This is money that’s held by your insurance company until you have proved that the claim money for the complete replacement cost of your loss has been spent for what it was intended for. For proof, the carrier will require copies of bank statements or canceled checks from all of the vendors involved.
The reason insurance companies will pay in this way is that they want to make sure the money is being spent properly. Unfortunately, it’s not that uncommon for a claimant to take their check and do something else with it, like buy a new car or fly to Vegas, so that the claimed damage was never addressed. Or, they may have replaced a less expensive item, like vinyl flooring, with a much more expensive hardwood floor. Part of what an adjuster does is to ensure the repairs to your South Carolina home or business are complete and correct.
Note: a settlement check is usually made out to you and your mortgage company after water damage claims. That means before you can cash or deposit it, it’ll need to be sent to the mortgage lender to get it endorsed by the Loss Draft department first. Yep, that can be annoying as it takes longer to finally get reimbursed. But it’s done this way so that your lender is aware of the damage that was done. Once they find out, they might insist on an inspection after the work has been finished.
Get Water Damage Cleaned Up by Professionals
Water damage restoration companies pump out standing water and will completely dry all affected surfaces before more damage or a mold infestation occurs. But unfortunately, not all of those companies are created equal. Some of the fly-by-night companies might attempt to take advantage of you in an emergency when you’ve got your guard down. So before signing a contract or a work order, get an estimate and demand proof that the company is both licensed and insured. Also, check out their reviews online on independent sites like Angi or HomeAdvisor. And finally, ask for local client references.
Some disaster restoration companies offer water damage services plus repairs of all construction-related materials. Others specialize in only water, fire, and mold damage restoration and remediation. Those companies partner with respected construction contractors to cover other repairs. But whichever company you choose, make sure you get a quote.
Kingsley LLC has been South Carolina’s water damage restoration go-to company for many years. We will work with your insurance company to handle your water damage claims and to get you back on your feet ASAP!