Property damage typically refers to damage done to real or personal property.
- Real Property refers to land and anything that comes with the land. For example, buildings, fences, train tracks, ponds, and minerals qualify as real property.
- Personal Property refers to any tangible property that is not considered real property. For example, a person’s electronics, home appliances, vehicles, and equipment qualify as personal property.
Storm damage is often a hot topic when it comes to property damage in Florida, but property damage from fire, water, and mold should not be overlooked. Here’s what you should know:
1. Fire Damage
Fire and smoke damage often go hand-in-hand. Fire damage is damage caused by the flame of the fire, whereas smoke damage is damage caused by the smoke from the fire.
The most common culprits of in-home fire damage are as follows:
- Cooking fires
- Heating equipment
- Sparking electrical wires
Fire Damage Prevention
Fire damage prevention starts with fire prevention. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends the following to prevent fires from starting in the first place:
- Do not leave cooking unattended. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of both cooking fires and casualties.
- Do not light candles in areas where people can fall asleep. Fires resulting from an unattended candle are more likely to be missed at first and only found once they have grown considerably. Two of every candle fire deaths occur in the bedroom.
- Keep flammable objects away from heat sources. Curtains, bedding, and other flammable objects should be kept away from heating equipment, candles, and electrical outlets.
2. Water Damage
Water damage typically occurs in one of two ways. One of the ways water can cause damage is by sheer force, as in a pipe bursting or a flood breaking through an entryway. Another way water can cause damage is by seeping into materials, causing them to degrade and warp. For example, if a leak in the roof is left unnoticed, water can easily drip onto, seep into, and warp the floor below, compromising its integrity and safety.
The most common culprits of water damage are as follows:
- Leaky/burst pipes
- Roof, siding, window, or door damage
- Clogged gutters
- Defective appliances & hoses (water heaters, washing machines, dishwasher hoses)
Water Damage Prevention
Besides flooding prevention, water damage prevention is centered around the regular inspection and maintenance of your property:
- Clean your gutters and downspouts twice a year. Doing so will help to prevent blockages and overflow. Overflow will result in rainwater spilling straight down from the gutter to the edge of your home instead of being caught and led away from your home–making the risk of water damage to your home’s foundation that much greater.
- Regularly inspect your appliances. Follow the manufacturer’s guidance on proper maintenance for your water-based appliances, and inspect them regularly (especially hoses prone to tearing and leaking).
- Watch your water bill. An unidentified leak may be to blame if there is a sudden spike in your water bill with no obvious cause.
3. Mold Damage
Mold causes damage in two main ways: firstly, mold damages the surfaces it grows on; secondly, mold releases spores that are often irritants and harmful to humans and animals.
Mold grows and spreads quickly in high-moisture environments that are not well-ventilated. Water damage can easily lead to mold growth and damage if not identified and treated quickly and effectively.
Even though there is no way to eliminate all mold spores in your home or property, there are ways to prevent them from growing and spreading. Mold cannot grow and spread in drier environments, making controlling the moisture level in your property the key to mold prevention. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends the following tips:
- Identify the source of moisture in the property, and eliminate it if possible. For example, a leaky pipe or a cracked seal may be the cause of moisture seeping into a space. Once the pipe or seal is repaired, and the existing mold is treated, it is unlikely that a mold problem will persist. However, if the humid Florida air is to blame for mold in open spaces, eliminating the source is not possible – controlling the moisture may be the only option.
- Ensure moisture-generating areas are well-ventilated. Moisture-generating areas typically include bathrooms, laundry rooms, and entryways.
- Utilize air conditioners and dehumidifiers. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can help reduce moisture in the air by circulating fresh air and pulling moisture from it.
Was Your Insurance Claim Wrongfully Denied or Underpaid?
If your insurance claim was wrongfully denied or underpaid, hiring an experienced property damage attorney is key to getting the compensation you deserve. Unfortunately, insurance companies regularly attempt to take advantage of their customers in their time of need by offering lowball settlements to protect their bottom line.
Chad J. Robinson, PLLC is an aggressive and experienced law firm that fights for policyholders to get what they deserve and equips property managers, public adjusters, and contractors with the education, strategies, and communication they need to maximize their results.