Proper Investigation Of Ground Water & Water Intrusion Losses
Understanding Insurance Coverage & Endorsements
With the Homeowner Insurance Policy exclusions for ground water, water seepage, flooding and mudslides, proper investigation to support your coverage decision and position is key.
There are several factors which may contribute to water entry through the home’s exterior or foundation. Each of these should be investigated individually and referenced in your Reservation Of Rights and Coverage Letters if they are in fact contributing factors and have an impact on your coverage position.
Inspecting The Property
At the time of the inspection of the property, walk around the perimeter of the home and the home’s interior and make note of the following:
– Does the home have rain gutters, downspouts, and an underground drainage system that will help route rain water away from the home’s foundation and exterior walls?
– is there a hillside around or near the perimeter of the property or any landscaping that has a slope that routes water towards the home?
– Are all of the drains leading to an underground drainage system clear of leaves and debris?
– If drains are visibly clogged or blocked and there is evidence of water pooling around the drain (ie. water level line or mud line on the home’s exterior wall, muddy soil, etc.), review the policy endorsements to see if there may be coverage provided for water which backs up from a drain.
– Is the patio or pool deck covering or interfering with the stucco weep screed that may cause water sheeting down the exterior wall to enter the home’s interior at the base of the wall?
– If there Is a swimming pool on the property, does the pool deck have drains and is the pool deck designed to route water towards the drains?
– If there is a fireplace, are there any visible cracks or gaps along the sides where the fireplace and chimney tie into the home’s exterior wall?
– If there is a fireplace, is the spark arrestor properly situated or is it at an angle or askew at the top of the chimney that might allow rain water to enter the home and cascade down the interior chimney wall?
– Are there cracks in the exterior walls or gaps around windows or doors that may allow water entry?
– Is there evidence of discoloration, water staining or mold on the interior of the home along the baseboards or at the base of the exterior walls?
– Is there any discoloration, water staining or mold along the baseboards or at base of the exterior walls directly below the windows on the interior of the home?
– Is there discoloration or staining coming from above on the interior of the home in the area where water or mold was observed (ie. on the ceiling, along the sides of windows or fireplaces, etc.
– Is there is evidence there is a roof leak or the water is coming from the roof area, inspect the roof to see if there is any debris in the roof valleys and check the roof mastic around pipes, vents and around chimney flashing to see if it is deteriorated or has gaps that will allow water entry.
Documenting Your File
A proper investigation, combined with proper documentation, will provide the support needed to back up your coverage decision and avoid the possibility of future litigation if the insured challenges your position.
Determining the exact cause of the water intrusion, for each contributing issue, can be done by retaining experts that can investigate and document the source of water entry. A plumber can be hired to complete a leak detection, an Engineer retained to assess failed drain systems, pool leaks and water entry near fireplaces and a Roofer can be called to confirm the condition of the roof and cause of any water entry coming from the roof area of the home.
A properly documented file is accompanied by both overview and close-up photos of all contributing factors that support your coverage decision. We’ve all heard the expression “a picture is worth a thousands words.” As is true when investigating coverage issues, including water intrusion losses, you cannot take too many photographs.
JENEE' CHILD, CEO
SOS SOLUTIONS, INC.
Jenee’ Child has 30 years experience adjusting property claims for more than 25 different insurance companies and has personally investigated and handled thousands of water damage losses. Jenee’ is CEO of SOS Solutions, Inc., which provides assistance to insurance companies in the control and management of the contractor and repair process and also in providing free services to insureds in scheduling and managing verified and vetted contractors to minimize overall claim expense and indemnity costs.
To schedule a strategic claims meeting or for water restoration contractor services, call SOS Solutions, Inc. at 1.888.589.1868 – For free resources available to your insureds, visit our website at www.TrustSOS.Solutions.