While a hurricane may provide fair warning, a burst pipe can cause sudden water damage to your home. Within minutes, hundreds of gallons of water can infiltrate. Perhaps the most common reason for a burst is a frozen pipe. In extremely cold weather, pipes can freeze overnight and burst shortly thereafter. This issue is one we see time and time again in New Orleans being that many homes lack proper insulation or central heating systems due to the region’s abbreviated winter. Low water pressure can be one of the early indicators that an incident is near, but even if you pick up on the clues, the inundation of repair tickets that plumbers see when weather has plummeted below freezing may prevent help from arriving in time. While it is possible to use hair dryers or hot towels to thaw exposed pipes, DIY unfreezing can be a daunting task for the average homeowner. Fortunately, even though burst pipes sneak up on you, unlike flood-causing natural disasters, any associated damage will most likely be covered by your homeowners insurance. In fact, burst pipes are one of the most common forms of homeowners claims.
Of course, in the event of a burst pipe, there are certain responsibilities which you must address as a homeowner. First, shut off your water, and perhaps electricity, too, depending on the location of the flooding. Next, you want to call a plumber. While it’s preferable to have a professional come out right away, make sure that you’re still choosing someone reputable, as the plumber’s report will come to play an important role in your insurance claim. Finally, begin extracting the water. Mops, water pumps, and buckets can be used to remove water and prevent further damage. While in some homeowners claims, such as fires, it is important to mitigate the potential for more chaos while preserving the original structure of the scene, cleanup takes precedent in pipe burst cases. It is much trickier to purposely tamper with a pipe in such a way that mimics a burst than it is to casually drop a match and mimic an accidental blaze. As a result, retaining all plumbers’ reports is crucial for documenting the scope of damage.
If you fail to take proper action in preventing further damage, then your claim may be in jeopardy. Further, if your pipes dropped hints in the months prior to the incident that they were at risk, but you failed to act, your claim may be denied. These forewarnings may have taken form in smaller leaks or prolonged water pressure issues. Even operating on a shorter timeline, your alleged negligence as a homeowner could negatively impact your claim. For example, if you knew that temperatures put your exposed pipes at risk for freezing and you let your home go unheated anyway, the burst could be directly pointed back to your actions, or lack therefore. The final caveat your claim could face is that the damage is covered, but the cost of fixing the pipe itself is not. While issues surrounding your claim may or may not be controlled by your decisions as a homeowner, they can be mitigated by seeking legal counsel.
Accusations of negligence can be thrown around without much basis. The chance of having your personal responsibility scrutinized goes down with the presence of an attorney. Unless your insurer has concrete evidence that you are to blame for the rupture, they are aware that anyone well-versed in these kinds of situations will be able to present a strong argument in your favor. Even if you’re worried that the damage could, indeed, have been prevented through a different course of actions, a lawyer can help determine if it is worth pursuing your claim. For example, perhaps you didn’t adequately have your home heated the night of the burst, but it was because your heating system was broken. If you were actively working to get the HVAC issue resolved, a lawyer can present that evidence in such a way the plays in your claim’s favor. Another detail that a lawyer can scrutinize is the language in your homeowners policy. While your insurer may reject funding the repair of the pipe, the lack of eligibility for coverage must be indicated in your policy to be a valid reason for denial. Because pipe burst claims are so common, your standard property casualty attorney possesses the expertise to ensure that your claim is not wrongfully denied.