Was Your Insurance Claim Denied Because of a Water Leak That Lasted Over 14 Days?

By Mario E. Lopez Esq. 

Water damage claims are probably the most commonly reported claim under homeowners’ insurance policies. Water damage claims are also among the most multifaceted of all homeowner’s claims. This is due to the fact that water damage can be caused by so many different things. As a result, home insurance companies include very specific language in their policies regarding what type of water damage is and is not covered by the policy. For example, most first party property insurance policies will exclude coverage for water damage that can be categorized as flood water or surface water. In contrast, water damage due to pipe leaks or bursts is usually covered. In general, if you obtained an “all risk” insurance policy, your policy will usually state that any loss or peril that is not specifically excluded will be covered. However, in many states, insurers include exclusions that exclude water damage caused by leaks that occur or develop over a long-period of time. This is usually referred to as a “Continuous seepage exclusion”. Here’s an example of a typical continuous seepage exclusion in a standard homeowners’ policy usually looks like this:

We do not insure loss caused by: constant or repeated seepage or leakage of water or steam over a period of weeks, months or years, from within a plumbing, heating, air-conditioning or automatic fire protective sprinkler system or from within a household appliance”

The relationship between the “seepage” exclusion and the general coverage for water damage available in your insurance policy tends to be an area of contention between insureds and insurers and often leads to litigation. In some instances, the prolonged seepage or leakage of water may have been contributing to water damage long before the effective date of the policy that is in place at the time the damage is discovered. For this reason, insurers try to specifically exclude this type of damage under a variety of phrasings. The continuous seepage and latent defect exclusions are typically listed in the policy with other exclusions such as wear and tear, marring and deterioration. That list of exclusions is often followed by an “ensuing loss” clause which keeps within coverage a separate and distinct loss or damage that is caused by, or follows as a consequence of, an excluded peril. Unless this subsequent loss or damage is also excluded under the policy, there is coverage for the ensuing loss or damage. In such cases, the specific exclusion may prevail over the general coverage found in your policy because as a rule of contract construction, a limited or specific provision prevails over a more broadly inclusive one.

Was Your Water Damage Claim Denied?

If you find yourself in a situation where you and your insurer are not seeing eye to eye on your insurance claim and are at a gridlock over the value of your insurance claim, you should seek professional advice as to what your rights are going forward. Our property insurance litigation attorneys are experienced and specialize in property insurance claims. Sadly, it is often incredibly difficult to differentiate between the different types of water damage claims to determine whether there it is covered by your policy. Since an insurance policy may cover one type of water damage, but not the other, it is no surprise that insurance companies often attempt to deny claims related to water damage from the onset. If your insurance company is attempting to delay or deny your claim, we can review the facts of your case. We’ll let you know whether or not you have a legal case, and if you do, we can represent your interests against the insurance company in court.

Do You Need Help with Your Water Damage Property Insurance Claim?If you have additional questions about your insurance claim or are currently caught in an insurance dispute over damage to your property, contact us today at (305) 300-3000 for a free consultation. The attorneys at Farrell, Patel, Jomarron & Lopez recognize your rights as an insured homeowner, understand how the insurance claims process works, and know how to submit a strong homeowners insurance claim that will prevent your water damage claim from being denied, delayed, or underpaid. Your home insurer will hire a team of attorneys who will work hard to make sure you don’t receive the compensation you are entitled to. You should have a team of lawyers working for you too! FPJL will aggressively represent you to ensure you get the money you are owed without any further delay by the insurance company. Our team of attorneys have decades of experience providing affordable representation to homeowners facing a wide range of denied, delayed or underpaid insurance claim issues.

Contact our law firm today at (305) 300-3000 for a free consultation!