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Water Leaks: Be Wary Of Late Notice, And Fixing Things Too Early


We have previously written about the requirement to provide timely notice to your insurance carrier of any actual or possible losses or claims. And most of us, faced with damage to our property, would immediately call our insurance company, whether because we need immediate help, or because we’re all aware that our insurance contracts require that we report losses.

Why Deadlines are Missed

But oftentimes, policyholders miss deadlines, and do not report claims in a timely manner, not out of neglect, laziness or to hide anything, but simply because they may not be aware of when the obligation to report a claim actually begins.

This often happens with leaks. Our first instinct when we hear a leak, or something that sounds water-related, is to see where the leak is coming from (assuming it’s not weather related). If we can’t find anything readily apparent, most people will simply do nothing-even if they still hear water leaking.

But doing nothing could lead to a denial of insurance, because the insurance company could interpret your hearing the leak, as the trigger to notify your insurance company. In other words, the clock starts ticking on your obligation to notify your insurance company when you hear the leak, and believe that there could be an insurable claim.

Case Dealt with Water Leak

A case dealt with that exact scenario. In the case, a family noticed that water was leaking from their shower and going under the flooring. A plumbing company replaced the drainage system. The homeowners then made an insurance claim. By then, the bathroom had been completely redone, and it was about a year after the leak.

Because of the renovations, the insurance company denied coverage, saying that the renovations prevented the insurance company from determining that the cause of the leak was.

The question is whether the insurance company was prejudiced by the delay—that is, whether they suffered any harm by the delay, such that the denial was allowable. But both the trial and appellate courts agreed with the insurance company. The court said that the insurance company as denied the chance to investigate and see if the loss was covered, by the homeowners’ choice to fully renovate the property. This is especially true with water leaks, which get worse over time, and cause more damage, the longer the water sits.

Be careful With Water Leaks and Notice

When you have a leak, it is understandable that you may immediately want to fix and repair things, and certainly, you can take emergency measures to make sure that any flooding or leaks stop and don’t get worse. But before making wholesale renovations, alterations, or hiring anybody to do major work where the leak caused damage, remember that the insurance company must be notified.

Contact the Miami property damage insurance attorneys at Velasquez & Associates P.A. today for help if you have a conflict or problem with your insurance company.



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