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My first homeowner’s insurance claim
Old 12-18-2020, 07:41 PM   #1
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My first homeowner’s insurance claim

After 30 years of homeownership without a single claim, we had a loss. A toilet on the third floor of our home leaked, and it dripped through the second floor all the way down to the first floor. We had to remove drywall and insulation in three different rooms. It looks like the total loss is going to be about $25K.

So far we had one company come out and remove all the wet drywall and insulation. Now we are waiting for a second company to put a repair estimate together to redo everything. So we are living in a construction zone for the time being.

My biggest concern at this point is what to expect on insurance renewal. Can anyone share your experience after incurring a loss? Did your insurance go up? Did they decide not to renew? What can I expect on renewal? What could go wrong between now and the job being finished?

Our insurance carrier is Amica, btw.
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Old 12-18-2020, 07:55 PM   #2
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Old 12-18-2020, 08:01 PM   #3
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I would not worry about it for now. We had a pretty big claim after a hurricane in 05 (about 25-30k), and then our rate went up a bit, not much. It all depends on your zip code, claims in your area, and provider. In the last decade we've had to shop for new carriers every few years, despite no claims...because Fl.

In your shoes, I'd focus on maximizing this payout, and covering your loss, and then reinsuring with a new provider if needed in the future.
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Old 12-18-2020, 08:41 PM   #4
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Had Ice hail as big as golf balls hit my roof. I claimed insurance. Adjuster went up my roof, and confirmed the hail hits. They gave me a budget - I think it was $18,000+ for my entire roof. I hired a Mexican-American roof guy ... great work, great quote, and he had great reviews at HomeAdvisor.com. No problem. Insurance paid for it all - new roof in 2016. The next year (2017), I was not covered for hail unless I paid extra, maybe only a $30 increase in premium. Then, 2018 - 2019, they restore coverage for hail with no increase in insurance premium.
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Old 12-18-2020, 09:10 PM   #5
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I would not worry about it for now. We had a pretty big claim after a hurricane in 05 (about 25-30k), and then our rate went up a bit, not much. It all depends on your zip code, claims in your area, and provider. In the last decade we've had to shop for new carriers every few years, despite no claims...because Fl.

In your shoes, I'd focus on maximizing this payout, and covering your loss, and then reinsuring with a new provider if needed in the future.
I agree. I'd be more concerned about how they handle the claim....if they don't pay or give you a hassle, why would you even want to renew?

We had our first claim after 37 yrs (wind damage to roof) and they were excellent. They gave us a brand new roof for $1k to replace one that was 20 yrs old. In our state they are not permitted to raise rates based on a wind damage claim although I suspect there are ways for them to get around that. As it happens our rate did go up 20% but it is still very reasonable and I expected the increase would be spread out over several years.
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Old 12-18-2020, 09:16 PM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback everyone. So far Amica has been excellent to work with. They got a claims adjuster right out and every time I call them I get my adjuster on the phone right away. They have already sent me a payment for work that hasn’t even begun yet and they have been very reasonable on their estimates for repairs.

We had a total loss on our Prius two years ago with Amica as well. We were rear ended from someone who fell asleep at the wheel so it was the other driver’s fault. But Amica made us a very generous offer for the loss and we got paid right away. I really don’t want to lose Amica at this point. I was with Allstate for 30 years and their service was horrible compared to Amica.
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Old 12-18-2020, 09:24 PM   #7
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Former underwriter here, who happened to have my first HO loss three years ago, a big water loss like you have, and about the same amount (washing machine overflow).

You will likely see an increase of about $1000 a year due to losing your loss free discount. This will effect your premiums for three years, than your loss free discount should come back. A second loss within the next three years will likely cause a nonrenewal, and no one else will touch you aside from the assigned risk plan in your area (very expensive) so proceed with caution for the next 36 months.
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Old 12-18-2020, 09:34 PM   #8
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We had a water damage claim in 2014 for our townhouse. In our case it was a pinhole leak in a copper pipe in the wall of our 1st floor laundry room. It was about a $10K claim with significant damage in two rooms on the 1st floor (new drywall, insulation, paint, laundry room cabinets removed and reinstalled, water heater and laundry appliances reinstalled), and some walls on the 2nd floor had to be dried out where water had wicked upward. Fortunately no construction had to be done on the 2nd floor. Our insurance went up 20% the next year, and I thought we'd gotten off pretty lightly. We have not had any other claims on auto or home policies.
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Old 12-18-2020, 10:00 PM   #9
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I has a similar but a lot worse issue in 2012 also in So Cal. The hose on an upstairs toilet from wall to tank burst and was whipping around for many hours. I left at 4.30 in the morning and came home at about 4 pm, unknown how long the water had been pouring out. Water was pouring out of the house, the smoke alarms were screaming water was pouring thought the ceiling and running down the stairs. I had to call the fire dept to turn off the water, I had no idea where it was. I was out of the house living in a hotel for three months while everything was torn out to the studs, pricing negotiated and rebuilt. I used the insurance companies preferred builders so if anything went wrong they would be responsible. I did not get a lawyer involved like many in SoCal do. I had good insurance including living accommodations so they paid for everything including my dogs and cats in a boarding kennel for all that time. It cost my insurance company Residence Mutual over 100,000. to rebuild/replace and my insurance only went up about $32 the next year. I still have them now, I'm so grateful to them for the way they handled the claim and I basically got a new house out of it. It turned out that the house water pressure regulator had failed and my pressure was well over 100. I had to pay $800 for the plumbing repair plus my $5000 deductible. I even got my sliding patio door replaced because the big air dryer machines they bring in caused condensation in the double glazing. Check to see if you have coverage to move out till the damage is repaired and if you do save every receipt, they will reimburse everything, meals and anything you need to buy even toothpaste and band aids since everything I owned was packed up in a huge container they brought in. They need to dry the house out before they start fixing the damage so it may take a while and you should not have to live in a construction zone.There was no argument about anything, I had replacement coverage, they paid me out 80% in cash without me actually replacing it and then if I did replace it within a year at a higher cost, I turned in the receipts and they cut me a check.
2012 paid $740 ( before claim)
2013 paid $772
2020 paying $1131 so as you can see they never hit me with a huge increase.
My insurance company turned a nightmare where I thought I'd lost everything into basically a brand new home with new flooring, new paint and a lot of new furniture. The day it was finished I cried when I walked in, it was absolutely beautiful, far better than it was before.
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Old 12-18-2020, 11:39 PM   #10
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I has a similar but a lot worse issue in 2012 also in So Cal. The hose on an upstairs toilet from wall to tank burst and was whipping around for many hours. I left at 4.30 in the morning and came home at about 4 pm, unknown how long the water had been pouring out. Water was pouring out of the house, the smoke alarms were screaming water was pouring thought the ceiling and running down the stairs. I had to call the fire dept to turn off the water, I had no idea where it was. I was out of the house living in a hotel for three months while everything was torn out to the studs, pricing negotiated and rebuilt. I used the insurance companies preferred builders so if anything went wrong they would be responsible. I did not get a lawyer involved like many in SoCal do. I had good insurance including living accommodations so they paid for everything including my dogs and cats in a boarding kennel for all that time. It cost my insurance company Residence Mutual over 100,000. to rebuild/replace and my insurance only went up about $32 the next year. I still have them now, I'm so grateful to them for the way they handled the claim and I basically got a new house out of it. It turned out that the house water pressure regulator had failed and my pressure was well over 100. I had to pay $800 for the plumbing repair plus my $5000 deductible. I even got my sliding patio door replaced because the big air dryer machines they bring in caused condensation in the double glazing. Check to see if you have coverage to move out till the damage is repaired and if you do save every receipt, they will reimburse everything, meals and anything you need to buy even toothpaste and band aids since everything I owned was packed up in a huge container they brought in. They need to dry the house out before they start fixing the damage so it may take a while and you should not have to live in a construction zone.There was no argument about anything, I had replacement coverage, they paid me out 80% in cash without me actually replacing it and then if I did replace it within a year at a higher cost, I turned in the receipts and they cut me a check.
2012 paid $740 ( before claim)
2013 paid $772
2020 paying $1131 so as you can see they never hit me with a huge increase.
My insurance company turned a nightmare where I thought I'd lost everything into basically a brand new home with new flooring, new paint and a lot of new furniture. The day it was finished I cried when I walked in, it was absolutely beautiful, far better than it was before.
Wow..... What a great recommendation.
Nice to hear such a positive story
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Old 12-19-2020, 01:58 AM   #11
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I had one of these installed. I will never live in a home without one. I've never had a big water claim and I hope to never have one. The Phyn (fin) is $600 with a $100 discount right now. It cost me about $100 to get it installed. It's given me alerts a couple of times because it's seen an odd flow. Usually it's while putting water in the pool. If I didn't react to the warning text. It would turn off the water to the house.

https://www.costco.com/phyn-plus-sma...100490249.html
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Old 12-19-2020, 03:18 AM   #12
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Having had all of our insurance from Amica for 30 years, I can tell you that you and others here are likely making a bigger deal out of this than it really is.

I believe you will not see any noticeable increase in premiums as a result of the claim.

Maybe 13 years ago, our underground oil tank had a leak. It needed to be emptied/pulled, state DEP gets involved, environmental engineering company needs to do remediation work, state DEP needs to approve remediation. We had seen horror story after horror story and big expenses from others who had gone through the process and were prepared for the worst.

We had tank insurance from a third party company, but I forget how much it covered. When I called Amica to find out what our homeowners policy covered, they immediately took control of the entire effort, coordinating all parties involved. I also forget how much in total Amica paid or how much the policy limit was ($50,000 limit sticks in my mind). DW and I chuckled as the state signed off and the process was concluded about 6 months after it began - we had little involvement, and not one headache, because Amica handled most everything for us and made sure everything was coordinated and done right.

At the end of it all, there was absolutely no increase in our annual premium due to the claim/loss.

I can't say it will be the same in your case, however, I would not automatically assume that your rates will go higher because of it.

Our extended family has been with Amica for over 50 years - everyone on DW's side of the family has been with them, and long before we were.
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Old 12-19-2020, 07:59 AM   #13
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I had one of these installed. I will never live in a home without one. I've never had a big water claim and I hope to never have one. The Phyn (fin) is $600 with a $100 discount right now. It cost me about $100 to get it installed. It's given me alerts a couple of times because it's seen an odd flow. Usually it's while putting water in the pool. If I didn't react to the warning text. It would turn off the water to the house.

https://www.costco.com/phyn-plus-sma...100490249.html
Did you install this yourself or did you have to hire a plumber? Where does it need to be installed? Our main shutoff valve is on the side of the house but there is no electrical outlet anywhere nearby.
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Old 12-19-2020, 08:21 AM   #14
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I don't want to be the bad news bear, but I have heard of two bad experiences with water leaks and claims made for repair.
I had a good friend that had a similar scenario like ours and it wasn't covered by the insurance. He also new a family that it didn't cover it as well. With his IC there was a add on thing that would of covered it but he didn't have that coverage.
I hope all goes well and the IC stands up and does the right things for you.
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Old 12-19-2020, 10:02 AM   #15
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I don't want to be the bad news bear, but I have heard of two bad experiences with water leaks and claims made for repair.
I had a good friend that had a similar scenario like ours and it wasn't covered by the insurance. He also new a family that it didn't cover it as well. With his IC there was a add on thing that would of covered it but he didn't have that coverage.
I hope all goes well and the IC stands up and does the right things for you.
Sounds like the OP has talked with the adjuster and it is being covered. That wasn't the question.
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Old 12-19-2020, 10:12 AM   #16
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Amica has been great so far and there is no question they are covering the loss. There is no dollar limit on the repairs in my policy, although there is a $10K limit on mold removal. Fortunately we did not find any mold after removing the drywall.

Amica offered to put me up in temporary housing but there really is no reason we can’t live here. We have a hallway on the first floor with no drywall on the bottom half of the wall. In the kitchen we lost half the ceiling and the pantry. The biggest inconvenience is on the third floor, where they had to remove our toilet to get to the drywall. They did not reinstall the toilet because we need to get the drywall replaced first.

I ordered a new bidet toilet from Costco that I will have installed once the drywall is finished. But for the next month or so there is no bathroom in the master bedroom. It’s a bit of pain to wake up and have to climb down stairs first thing but that’s really the only minor inconvenience we are experiencing at this point.

Amica issued a preliminary payment directly to me based on an estimate their adjuster put together. If the repair costs more they have agreed to negotiate the final price directly with the contractor and then cover the remaining amount.
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Old 12-19-2020, 10:35 AM   #17
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Every time I read about the top insurance companies, Amica comes out on top. They're expensive in premiums and selective in who they insure, but they're really good. The whole trick to homeowners' claims is to avoid filing a second claim within 3 years.

I owned a home my daughter lived in, and someone stole my ATV and some other items--$5K claim at State Farm. Two years later, my main residence had a major burglary and Esurance was a nightmare to deal with.

We moved 65 miles to get away from the thieves, and I was shopping for homeowners' coverage. Every insurer quoted rates two times what they should have been--$4,000+. Come to find out, Lexus/Nexus keeps records on all insurance claims and they have a risk score comparable to a FICO score assigned to every homeowner. It was two legitimate claims that hit me hard. But I did get $2,000 insurance with Nationwide.

I remain appalled at the prices of home repairs like the bathroom leak. I've had a couple of copper pipe leaks in my lake house. Let me warn anyone with CPVC water pipes that gets brittle as it ages--and I broke off the pipe under a toilet at the valve. I can make plumbing and sheet rock repairs like a professional at very little cost.

Anytime I'm not going to be at my lake house for extended periods (like now), I cut off the water as a defensive measure.
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Old 12-19-2020, 10:51 AM   #18
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agree i think theres a specific rider with my ins co USAA for a "continuous drip of water" instead of a huge gush of water type thing. I bought it because a little water over a long period of time can be a big problem. I think they still have a limit on the amount of time i.e. you cant say oh its been dripping 7 years and I just found it. Purchased bc of waterheater and part of a/c in attic over main part of house. Ceiling collapse there would be most unfortunate.
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Old 12-19-2020, 11:18 AM   #19
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Also now is the time to make any upgrades or repairs that you might have been considering while the walls are open. You're probably going to get some/all new kitchen cabinets if there was water damage. I added some surround sound cabling/power in the ceilings and walls so I could hang my TV's. I also added a double door office at the end of my extremely long living room which was a great decision, it made the living room more cozy. I also upgraded the recessed lighting in the kitchen all at my cost but far cheaper since I was only paying for the upgrades, not the drywall replacement etc. The contractor suggested taking care of improvements and I was resistant at first figuring they were trying to make more money on the job but once they had planted the seed, it only took a couple of days to figure that this might be a really good idea. I think I spent less than $3000 on these upgrades and I'm so glad I did, it totally added to the value of the house. Just something to consider..
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Old 12-19-2020, 11:20 AM   #20
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Well this is one advantage of living in old farmhouse with one bathroom. I won't get any stealth leaks that I don't notice. I'm curious do those of you with multiple bathrooms that don't get used a lot make a habit of checking for dripping faucets or leaking toilets on a regular basics..

OP just stay the course and I guess your insurance will go up as much as it goes up..it's not like you can do without it...

I will say this climate of low or no interest rates has made my insurance companies more cautious. we've had the same company for all personal and business related insurance for 25 years and they are always fine tuning stuff on their coverage and not for the better.
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