Insurance claims for water damage are on the rise. In fact, water damage claims are purportedly the second most reported petitions in Orange County, California. However, questions often arise when homeowners try to decipher the legal jargon of insurance policy, and many frequently become frustrated over exemptions and exclusions. Here are six hints to help you decode the steps you to take when making a water damage insurance claim.

1. Take pictures of the damaged area immediately after finding the water. Also, continue taking pictures during all stages of cleanup and restoration. If the damage is due to a pipe burst, take pictures of the pipe as well. Offer a copy of all photos to the insurance adjuster.

2. Contact your insurance agent regarding the loss. Ask the agent questions about your coverage, the time limit to file a claim, and deductibles. Request information on repairs, restoration, and how long a claim takes to process.

3. Establish your claim by filling out the claim forms as soon as you receive the papers. Return the completed documents to the insurance company right after you finish the paperwork.

4. Keep a list of damaged and lost items. Include all steps taken to clean or discard major items, if possible. Also, take pictures and keep the photos with the records to substantiate the loss. If receipts are available for destroyed or damaged items, provide copies with your insurance claim.

5. Request receipts and a detailed list of all work done by your water repair and restoration company. Also, ask the team to include a list of all supplies used to clean and sanitize the area.

6. If your family needs to relocate during cleanup and restoration, keep receipts. Extensive records required may include living expenses, replacement clothing, and meal expenditures.

Once your insurance claim has been settled, and the insurance company accepts your submission, a payment is typically sent to cover the terms of the settlement. If the claim is refused, you have the right to contest the refusal and the right to hire an attorney.

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