A homeowner woke up early in the morning to find that the water pipe inside the walls of the second floor exploded and leaked all night. The water flooded and damaged the second and the first floor, hallway and even the bathroom. The damage was so large, that the carpet was covered in puddle of water.
The homeowner roughly cleaned up the mess and also moved some of his furniture to a safe area with the help from his friends and family. Several hours later, the insurance company dispatched a cleaning company to the house and to finish the rest of the cleanup as well as set up fans to dry out the damaged areas.
I contacted the adjuster from the insurance company to review the case file. I found that two weeks had passed since the accident and no progress was made other than the temporary clean up. The house was badly damaged and the homeowner was beginning to show frustration.
Satisfaction gained in the midst of discontent
Although our investigative team quickly sent the photos of the property damage to the insurance company’s adjuster and followed up with multiple phone calls, there was no response. A while later, the adjuster finally sent a text message to the homeowner informing that he was on vacation for 10 days. The situation was baffling. Had the homeowner known, he would have requested for a new adjuster to follow up on the case, minimizing communication gap.
Key negotiating factor was to find out the extent of the water damage on the walls.
Damage assessment was important because compensation amount may differ greatly depending on the extent of the water damage. Based on how much water seeped into the wall, the wall may have to be demolished, and the insulation may also need to be replaced to prevent mold from growing. Furthermore, it could mean that the ceiling, wall paper, carpet, door, essentially the entire room may need to be fixed. The case was negotiated to fully compensate for the complete repair.
Key Negotiation Point
As is often the case, the insurance adjuster and I came to an impasse. The water had penetrated through multiple rooms and ultimately reached a side of a wall in a large room. I claimed that the insurance company had a responsibility to reimburse the entire amount to fix the room, wall and the bathroom according to our assessment.
However, the insurance company fought back and said that there was no physical evidence to prove that water damage had affected the bathroom wall.
That statement wasn’t completely untrue, as there really was no way to physically see the damage in the bathroom wall. More than half of the bathroom floor and walls were covered in tile, making it hard to prove the damage.
Knowing the extent of bathroom repair was important in getting the proper compensation from the insurance company. Although it would cost $300 to fix the damaged wall, it was important to understand that bathroom tile, toilet, mirror and cabinet all had to be removed to fix the wall, which meant it could cost additional $7,000-$10,000. Both the insurance adjuster and I knew that the compensation could vary greatly depending on how claim was processed.
Art of Negotiation
When faced with situations like this, I think to myself “the moment has come!” with a quiet smile. I then retrace the damage with the thought process “The damaged wall and the bathroom wall are only 4 inches apart. Wouldn’t it be a miracle if the water doesn’t travel to the bathroom wall?” Victory was mine. We were able to receive compensation to repair the entire damage.
When it comes to your claim, it is important to know that rather than just trust the insurance company, protect your consumer rights by knowing the California Insurance License Policies. U.S. is indeed an advance country that has laws to offer fair compensation and great service.
Jung Park, PA
Excel Public Adjusters