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Don't Waste Your Money: When to call insurance company about damage

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(Toledo News Now) -

In the past, if you had a problem in your home, whether a tree on the roof or water in your kitchen, you would call your insurance company immediately. Nowadays, that may not always be the best idea.

Many homeowners are dealing with water damage from the "Polar Vortex" that gripped the eastern half of the country this January. Either a pipe burst in our walls, water leaked in from gutters blocked with ice, or water got in from a sudden thaw.

So should you call your insurance company? It's a great question.

Pipe Bursts, Water Damage

The shop vac was working overtime at the Clark house, after a burst water pipe sent water cascading from the first floor down into the basement.

Mike Clark had buckets filled with water, that was still dripping 24 hours after he discovered the leak.

The culprit?

"It looks like it started right here in the laundry room," Clark said.

He suspects a water line burst in the wall behind his washing machine. He believes the outside brick of his home got so cold when temps fell to zero, the pipe inside froze solid.

So he called a plumber and set up a dehumidifier, but wasn't sure about calling his insurance company.

"I thought about it," Clark said. "But I've got a thousand dollar deductible, and most insurance companies force you to cover up to $1,000, so it's kind of a moot point to do that."

Burst pipes are covered by most homeowner's policies.

To Call Or Not To Call

However, now there are a number of reasons not to call your insurer:

-Many policies have a $1,000 deductible to keep premiums down. So if clean-up is less than $1,500, it's usually not worth filing a claim.

-In addition, one claim can raise your rates as much as 10 percent, according to Bankrate.

-Bankrate says a second claim, if something else happens, could make you high risk with even higher rates.

Clark says with his repairs looking like they won't exceed $500, he's going to do it himself with a plumber's help, and skip the claim this time.

Mold Caution

One thing to keep in mind: If you can't thoroughly dry out your walls, ceiling, or carpeting, mold will form. That damage can cost thousands to clean up months later. 

So if you worry that you won't be able to dry up all the moisture, call your insurer so they can bring in a professional restoration company.

That way, down the road, you don't waste your money.

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