In a report released in 2014, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that more than 1.3 million water damage claims were filed throughout the United States. In 2015, that number increased to more than 1.4 million. According to their research, the most common months for claims were January and February, and there were more than 155,000 claims during each of those months. However, claims were lower in November and December, and there were less than 100,000 during each of those months.
California was the state with the most claims at over 325,000. Florida came in second with more than 225,000. With over 220,000, Texas ranked third. New York was fourth with over 145,000, and Pennsylvania was fifth with over 140,000. The top U.S. cities for claims were San Antonio, Chicago, Houston, San Diego and Miami.
According to NICB, water damage is any type of damage to a property that occurs because of accidental water leakage, overflow or discharge. This can be from air conditioning, heating, plumbing and refrigeration systems. It may also happen because of melting snow or ice, rain, open windows, leaky doors, skylights or rising water tables below a home.
If the damage happened because of the homeowner’s negligence, it may not be covered. For example, an entire ceiling that collapses because of a leak between the roof and the ceiling that has obviously existed for a long time may not be completely covered. If it is evident that the homeowner knew of the leak but let it worsen over time, he or she was being negligent. Also, insurance companies look for reports of exaggerated damages.
It is important for property owners to review their policies regularly and keep them current with any possible risks. If a natural disaster occurs, property owners must be aware of unethical repair fraudsters and contractors who appear unsolicited to offer their services. More scam artists are showing up after disasters, and desperate people often become financial victims to their schemes. When these fraudsters do shoddy work or fail to do any work at all, the damages become worse and more expensive.
When a claim must be filed, contact your personal insurance agent for repair recommendations. They can provide a list of reputable contractors and service companies. The key idea to remember is to avoid doing business with anyone who was not directly contacted, and this is especially true with door-to-door solicitors. Report any suspicious solicitors to the police. If insurance fraud is suspected, it can be anonymously reported to 800-TEL-NICB. To learn more about insurance fraud and how to stay safe when hiring contractors, discuss concerns with your agent.