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Water damage: Should you call insurance?

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Many homeowners are dealing with water damage from the "Polar Vortex" that has gripped the eastern half of the country this January.

Either a pipe burst in our walls, water leaked in from gutters blocked with ice, or water got in from a sudden thaw.

So should you call your insurance company? It's a great question.

Pipe Bursts, Water Damage

The shop vac was working overtime at the Clark house, after a burst water pipe sent water cascading from the first floor down into the basement.

Mike Clark had buckets filled with water, that was still dripping 24 hours after he discovered the leak.

The culprit?

"It looks like it started right here in the laundry room," Clark said. He suspects a burst water line in the wall behind his washing machine.

He  believes the outside brick of his Northern Kentucky home got so cold when temps fell to zero, the pipe inside froze solid.

So he called a plumber, and set up a dehumidifier, but wasn't sure about calling his insurance company.

"I thought about it," Clark said. "But I've got a thousand dollar deductible, and most insurance companies force you to cover up to $1,000, so its kind of a moot point to do that."

Burst pipes are covered by most homeowner's policies.

To Call or Not to Call

However, there are now a number of reasons not to call your insurer.

They include:

      -Many policies now have a $1,000 deductible, to keep premiums down.

     -So if cleanup is less than $1,500, it's usually not worth filing a claim.

     -In addition, one claim can raise your rates as much as 10%, according to Bankrate.com.

     -Bankrate says a second claim, if something else happens, could make you high risk, with even higher rates.

Clark says with his repairs looking like they won't exceed $500, he's going to do it himself with a plumber's help, and skip the claim this time.

Mold Caution

One thing to keep in mind: If you can't thoroughly dry out your walls, ceiling or carpeting, mold will form.

And that can cost thousands to clean up six months later. 

So if you worry that you wont be able to dry up all the moisture, then call your insurer, so that they can bring in a professional restoration company.

That way, down the road you don't waste your money.

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