Water damage affects thousands of Floridians each year. Since 2010, the frequency and severity of water damage loss claims – specifically those caused by broken or leaky pipes - has increased by 46%. Such problems are often hidden and don’t come to light until the leak is discovered – by which time the damage can be extensive.
In the ‘90s, slow leaks caused by small cracks in pipes or hoses, or water damage caused by steam leaks or humidity over time, were generally not excluded from coverage. Today, however, in many cases insurance companies place restrictions and limits on their coverage of water damage claims caused over time periods exceeding 14 days. The language used in insurance policies is extremely important, which is why it is vital to read your potential policy carefully and ask your agent to explain any exclusions or restrictions. Language describing coverage for hidden water damage has changed steadily over the past 25+ years. For example:
Most policies did not specifically exclude water damage caused over time by hidden breaks in pipes, steam or humidity, or mold caused by water damage. Claims were normally paid out with little or no problems.
Many policies began to specify that damage from a water pipe that had been leaking for more than 14 days would not be covered unless the pipe was hidden behind a wall, floor, or ceiling and the homeowner was unaware of the hidden water damage.
The restrictions concerning hidden water damage became tighter – even if the leak was unknown to homeowners, if it could be proven to have existed longer than 14 days, the water damage claim could be denied.
Over the past 5 years, the restrictions on hidden water damage claims in Florida became even more defined. If mold is present or the leak can be proven to have been in existence for 14 days or more without a fix or resolution, many policies exclude the damage from coverage.
Agents who write policies for homeowners can help serve their clients well by directing them to insurance companies that use less restrictive language in regard to hidden water damage. Homeowners can help protect themselves by asking about water damage exclusions before they buy a policy.
For example, Olympus does not have clauses that specifically require water leaks to have been discovered and fixed within 14 days from the time the leak began. This doesn’t mean that all hidden water claims are automatically covered, but they are not automatically excluded, either.
A way you can help avoid significant water damage (and insurance claims to repair ruined drywall, remove mold, and repair warped wood) is to use every tool at your disposal to help protect your home.
- A humidity sensor can help alert you if there is a water leak or seepage in sensitive areas around your home (such as behind appliances where leaks may occur, including washing machines and dishwashers)
- A wireless water valve can help you to be instantly alerted if increased water flow indicates a broken pipe or line – letting you shut water off remotely on the spot
- A Florida homeowners insurance policy that doesn’t automatically exclude hidden water damage can help protect you in case a leak occurs and you don’t find out right away
Be proactive when it comes to your home insurance, and find a policy that can help you protect your home and your finances in the case of hidden water damage.
About Olympus Insurance Company
Headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, FL and founded in 2007, Olympus Insurance Company specializes in Florida property insurance. Through its independent agency force, Olympus
insures $45 billion worth of residential and investment property including homes, condos, rental property, and valuable personal property. The company also writes flood insurance and umbrella policies. Coverage for individual risks up to $5 million in total insured value is provided on one of the most comprehensive coverage forms in the industry. For more information, visit olympusinsurance.com.