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How Do I Know If I Have a Property Damage Claim or Not?

As a homeowner in the Sunshine State, you may find yourself in a situation where your property suffers damage. From intense hurricanes to the less-than-favorable tropical downpours, Florida certainly has its fair share of weather-related concerns. When damage does occur, a common question pops up: “Is this damage enough to make an insurance claim?” or “Does that leak automatically make it a roof claim?”

This blog article aims to guide you through determining whether you have a valid property damage claim. Let’s unravel the confusion and empower you with the knowledge you need.

Understanding Property Damage and Insurance Claims

Property damage refers to any harm to your home or the contents within it. This damage can occur due to a myriad of reasons, including but not limited to, natural disasters, vandalism, or accidents. An insurance claim, on the other hand, is a formal request to your insurance company asking for a payment based on the terms of your insurance policy.

Just because you have some damage doesn’t necessarily mean you have a claim. For a property damage claim to be valid, two conditions typically need to be met: The cause of damage should be covered by your insurance policy, and the cost of repairs should exceed your policy’s deductible.

Evaluating Property Damage: When is it a Claim?

Scenario 1: The Roof Leak

Let’s consider the common instance of a roof leak. If your roof springs a leak every time it rains, is that an automatic roof claim? The answer isn’t straightforward.

Your homeowners’ insurance policy typically covers damage that is sudden and accidental. If the leak was caused by a windstorm or hurricane — an event covered in your policy — and the damage is significant enough to exceed your deductible, then you may have a valid claim.

On the other hand, if the leak is due to wear and tear or lack of maintenance, then it might not qualify as a claim since most policies exclude damage due to gradual deterioration or neglect.

Scenario 2: The Burst Pipe

What if a pipe bursts in your home, causing water damage? Again, it will depend on the specifics. If the burst pipe was sudden and accidental, your policy will likely cover it. However, if the pipe corroded over time due to lack of upkeep, you might be out of luck when filing a claim.

Often in these cases, the actual repair to the burst pipe itself will not be covered. What will be covered is all the demolition and repair work needed to access and fix the damaged pipe.

Scenario 3: Hurricane Roof Damage

As a Florida law firm, we deal with this scenario quite frequently. One key piece of info is to determine whether you elected to get a roof exclusion attached to your current homeowners policy. This is something some homeowners gamble with, as adding a roof exclusion can lower the cost of a homeowners policy. If you elected to exclude damage to the roof from your coverage, then you likely do not have a claim.

However, if you did not exclude roof damage from your policy, and your roof is damaged in a hurricane, you most likely do have a claim that you can file. Please note that when the damage is caused by a hurricane, there is a separate, typically higher hurricane deductible that will apply.

Scenario 4: Flood Damage

Flood damage can be a tricky thing. Of course, if you have a separate flood policy, that policy will cover you in case of a flood. However, if you do not have a separate flood policy, whether you have. claim or not comes down to how the water entered the property.

If your roof or windows are damaged, and water enters the property due to that damage, the flood damage will be covered. However, if rising flood waters enter the home from the ground up, the damage will most likely NOT be covered under your homeowners insurance. This is why it is so important to have good flood insurance if you are in an area that is likely to flood.

The Importance of Professional Assessment

Identifying and repairing property damage can be confusing to navigate on your own, especially when you’re dealing with the stress of a damaged home. The cause of the damage may not always be apparent, and the extent of damage can be challenging to evaluate accurately. This is where professional help can be invaluable.

An experienced contractor can assess the damage, determine the cause, and provide an estimate for repairs. If the cause is covered by your insurance and the repair costs exceed your deductible, it might be time to consider filing a claim.

For complex cases or if your insurance company disputes your claim, seeking advice from a public adjuster or a property damage lawyer can be beneficial. These professionals specialize in insurance claims and can help you understand your rights and options.


Florida homeowners, the key takeaway here is not every property damage incident automatically results in a valid insurance claim. Determining whether you have a claim involves understanding the terms of your insurance policy, ascertaining the cause and extent of the damage, and comparing repair costs with your policy’s deductible.

Remember, when in doubt, it’s wise to seek professional advice. After all, your home is not just a structure; it’s a place where memories are made, and ensuring its safety and security is always a priority. Stay prepared, Florida!

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