Water damage claims and fire damage claims are two common insurance claims that property owners may face. Water damage can result in various types of losses, such as the deterioration of materials, rotting of wood, rusting of steel, and delamination of plywood, among others. It can occur gradually, with minor signs like water spots, or suddenly, as in the case of a catastrophic flood. Regardless of the speed at which it occurs, water damage poses a significant threat to property.
Regarding insurance coverage, policies may or may not include provisions for water damage claims and the subsequent restoration process. Homeowner's insurance policies often require additional appendices, such as "Sewer and Drain Coverage," to cover associated costs, which can increase monthly premiums. Similarly, fire damage claims may have specific coverage terms and requirements.
In instances of widespread flooding, individuals affected by water damage may have the option to seek government assistance, including grants through programs like FEMA's Individual Assistance. On a larger scale, businesses, cities, and communities can apply for funds through FEMA's Public Assistance program to aid in the aftermath of a significant flood.
This program may support purchasing water-damaged properties, demolishing structures, and transforming them into public green spaces. Understanding the complexities of water and fire damage claims, along with available insurance coverage and government assistance programs, is crucial for property owners dealing with such incidents.
Category 1 Water
Refers to a source of water that does not pose substantial threat to humans and classified as "clean water". Examples are broken water supply lines, tub or sink overflows or appliance malfunctions that involves water supply lines.
Category 2 Water
Refers to a source of water that contains a significant degree of chemical, biological or physical contaminants and causes discomfort or sickness when consumed or even exposed to. Known as "grey water". This type carries microorganisms and nutrients of micro-organisms. Examples are toilet bowls with urine (no feces), sump pump failures, seepage due to hydrostatic failure and water discharge from dishwashers or washing machines.
Category 3 Water
Known as "black water" and is grossly unsanitary. This water contains unsanitary agents, harmful bacteria and fungi, causing severe discomfort or sickness. Type 3 category are contaminated water sources that affect the indoor environment. This category includes water sources from sewage, seawater, rising water from rivers or streams, ground surface water or standing water. Category 2 Water or Grey Water that is not promptly removed from the structure and or have remained stagnant may be re classified as Category 3 Water. Toilet back flows that originates from beyond the toilet trap is considered black water contamination regardless of visible content or color.
Fire is dangerous, and smoke damage is not friendly at all. Did you know that the flames themselves might not be the greatest risk as far as health dangers and property damage? Fire smoke is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a 3/1 ratio, and while direct exposure to smoke is harmful to your respiratory system, it can also negatively affect your property’s structure.
Smoke damage from any type of fire is comprised of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and soot. Many other harmful chemicals also enter the air are inhaled or latch onto walls, furniture, clothing, duct-work and other areas.
When it comes to your property, knowing how temperature, the surrounding environment, particle ionization, and airflow patterns affect smoke distribution can help you better restore your property.
Because hot air rises, smoke damage is most commonly found in the following places:
- Directly above where the fire blazed: Assuming no strong air currents are flowing through the building, the highest concentration of smoke residue is usually found on the ceiling above the fire.
- Outside walls and windows: Cold air sinks, opening up a path for the smoke to travel to exterior windows and walls. Even if the fire is concentrated in the center of the room, it’s common to find lots of smoke residue on outside walls.
Smoke particles are often ionized, meaning they possess an electrical charge that attracts them to certain surfaces. That’s why you often find smoke damage:
- Surrounding nail heads in the ceiling
- Clustered in cobweb-like shapes in corners of the room
- On synthetic materials
Air Flow Pattern
Air currents carry smoke and soot away from the fire and deposit residue in interesting ways. For example, smoke damage is often seen:
- In duct-work
- On the far side of door openings
Fire damage refers to the physical damage to a property as a result of burning. Fire damage may either be directly caused by the flames or could occur due to smoke and other corrosive substances emitted by the fire.
In terms of insurance, fire damage is one of the types of coverage offered in property insurance.
The six types of fire damage claims are as follows:
- Class A: fire that involves flammable solids, such as paper, cloth, wood, and plastics.
- Class B: fire that involves flammable liquids or solids that can turn into liquids.
- Class C: fire that involves flammable gasses, such as propane, hydrogen, natural gas, and butane.
- Class D: fire that involves combustible metals, including sodium, magnesium, and potassium.
- Class E: fire that involves factors in Class A and B as well as electrical elements.
- Class F: relatively hotter and more destructive fire that involves cooking oils and fats.
Furthermore, many insurance companies divide fire damage into two categories: Primary and secondary. The former refers to damage caused by the flames, while the latter refers to damage caused by smoke or other substances from the fire.
Storm damage is the worst nightmare for any homeowner. Strong winds, wind-related disasters that scatter debris everywhere, freezing showers, snowstorms, lightning, and thunderstorms pose a severe threat to the roof and structure of your home. If your house is appropriately designed, it can withstand the destructive effects of storms, and it almost always happens that damaging form hits whenever strong winds sweep through.
You can only partially prepare yourself for the amount of damage a storm will cause. The severity of the damage depends on the storm's intensity and the type of storm damage. Although, an insurance claim can save you from the aftermath of a severe storm that has wreaked havoc on your property.
- Heavy Winds: Tornadoes and hurricanes are the most common violent winds witnessed. Deadly winds blowing at a scary high velocity can damage the roofs of homes and commercial buildings. When you are notified earlier about the windstorm, get prepared and fix the damaged things or places that will let you suffer less.
- Rain and Hail: Hail is another dangerous, clearly visible damage, so you must check your roof after a hailstorm. It can cause significant damage to piping, sidings, bent roofs, and shingles. Mold growth, contamination, damage to the foundation and drywall, and an adverse impact on other building materials or structures are effects of heavy rains and flood fall. However, these are not easily visible and sometimes take time to show, but they adversely affect the building's health.
- Lightning: Lightning causes the most dangerous and costly damage. Lightning strikes can cause fire and extreme damage to the house, affecting appliances, telephone and electric wires, cables, etc. Being prepared in some phases is better than crying in the aftermath.