If your property has been damaged by water from someone else's property—say, a pipe burst in the townhome adjacent to yours—you might think that you can wait until your neighbor's insurance company pays for the damage. After all, the situation is cut and (no pun intended) dried, right? That's not always the case. Figuring out who pays for someone else's water damage can become a convoluted mess that takes a long time. Even if you have to pick and choose what damage to fix because of budgetary constraints, get what you can done. If you don't, you could affect your home's value and your health, and untreated damage could become permanent. Here's what to do if you need water damage taken care of when your budget isn't the biggest.
Your Agent Is Your Ally
Call your home insurance agent even if the damage is due to someone else's water pipe. If your home is currently flooded, call a restoration company first, but if the water's gone, you can walk around, and there aren't any contamination issues, like you might see with natural flooding, call your agent immediately. Your insurance company may have programs to help homeowners who find themselves at the mercy of someone else's insurance. It could be that your insurance company will pay the restoration company and then seek repayment from the other party's insurance company. Or, your insurance might cover you regardless of the cause of the flooding.
Another reason to talk to your agent as soon as you can is to find out if the company (such as A Steam Pro Carpet Cleaning) has a list of preferred restoration companies. These are vetted companies that the insurance company trusts enough to do a reasonable job at reasonable prices. These companies often gain business through referrals from the insurance company, so they are not going to want to jeopardize that relationship by doing a bad job. Plus, payment to these companies is often easier since they and the insurance company will have an established relationship.
Rustle up Restoration Companies
If you didn't have to call a restoration company to pump out water already, now's the time to call them. Get names from your insurance company or choose a company on your own, but call them that day. You are working against time, and the countdown began as soon as the water hit your property. Have the company evaluate the situation and start working on mold prevention and saving irreplaceable items like photos. If you're on a limited budget, forget the things you can toss and replace like rugs. Yes, that's a pain, and it will still cost you money to replace the rugs and other items. But you can live without a rug for a while. You don't want to live with mold in your walls. Make a list of jobs if you have to and work your way through them as your budget allows.
You will not be the first person to deal with water damage restoration on a budget. The restoration company should work with you to make the work as affordable as possible. From helping you find the most necessary jobs to working out a payment plan, the restoration company should be able to devise a way to keep your home healthy after water damage.
Taking care of severe water damage isn't free. In fact, it probably won't be cheap. So your idea of waiting for your neighbor's insurance to pay you first or to pay the restoration company directly might sound sensible. But state laws and insurance squabbles—not to mention the possibility that your neighbor's insurance just won't pay at all—could leave you out in the water-damaged cold. If you ever find yourself dealing with this situation, call your insurance agent and a good water damage restoration company immediately. That will save you money and trouble in the long run.