Water Damage to Your Home
Providing help and protection when water damages your home
A leaking hot water heater or burst water pipe can quickly damage your home and belongings, as well as trigger mold growth.
Because water damage may be hidden behind walls, under carpets and in unseen areas, clean-up should be handled as quickly as possible and oftentimes by a professional.
Nationwide has the experience and the expertise to assist you in minimizing the damage, help you restore your home and get your life back to normal quickly.
What to do if you discover water damage
First things first
- If the leak is from a burst water pipe or appliance, shut off the main incoming water valve to help minimize the damage.
- If you can’t locate the leak or don’t know how to stop it, call a plumber.
- Call our On Your Side® Claims Service at 1-800-421-3535. We’ll begin to process your claim and may dispatch a professional water damage clean-up service to your home.
Before the professionals arrive
Talk to the claims representative about what you should and should not do before the clean-up team arrives.
- If it’s safe to do so, mop up excess water using old rags, towels and the like. A wet/dry vacuum may also help. But if you’re unsure about the origin of the water – whether it contains sewage or toxic substances – wait for the professionals.
- Salvage your belongings, particularly wet and absorbent materials. The quicker items are removed, the more likely rot, mildew, molds and warping can be avoided.
- Avoid removing or lifting flooring (wood, carpet, tile, etc.) as doing so incorrectly could cause additional damage.
- Keep anything that you suspect may have caused the leak or burst for your claims professional.
Document your water damage
- Photograph damage and move personal property to a dry area.
- Make a list of damaged items and include their purchase date and value, along with any receipts.
- Inventory the items that you remove and organize them by what can be salvaged and what needs to be discarded. Our insurance adjuster can help you with this.
How the clean-up process works
Depending on the extent of the water damage, the clean-up team will:
Remove furniture and related contents and block items to help prevent further damage or flooring stains.
Extract standing water with powerful pumps and vacuums.
Use industrial fans, air movers and dehumidifiers to speed drying and prevent warping of doors and floors.
Remove and dispose of damaged materials and provide cleaning, sanitizing, deodorizing treatments.
How the claims process works
The claims representative will review your insurance policy and explain the coverages that apply.
Once your claim has been verified as being covered, Nationwide will arrange for payment for clean-up and restoration services.
We’ll reimburse you for any covered property destroyed or damaged by water, minus any deductible amount you’re responsible for paying. The payment you receive is based on the coverage you purchased and the severity of the damage.
Based on the circumstances of your claim, you can choose how you receive this payment: direct deposit to your bank account, on a Visa® debit card or by check.
Water damage vs. flood damage
Homeowners insurance typically covers basic water damage caused by overflow or accidental discharge of water from within your home, including sewer backups.
This is not the same as flood insurance. Flood insurance is offered by the National Flood Insurance Program to pay losses from floods associated with heavy rains, hurricanes, tropical storms and other severe weather situations.
Available to homeowners, condo owners and renters, federal flood insurance typically covers the repair or replacement of your home, appliances and personal belongings, as well as removal of flood debris.
Protect your home from water damage
- Install metal mesh connection hoses on your washer and dryer; they’re more resistant to leaks and cracking than rubber.
- Elevate your washer, dryer, water heater, oil tank, furnace, electrical wiring and personal items.
- Have a plumber install backflow valves and standpipes in all basement drains to prevent sewage from backing up into your basement.
- Keep gutters and downspouts free of leaves and debris to prevent rain overflow from seeping into your roof, walls or foundation.
- Run your sump pump every few months and clean it annually before the rainy season.
- Flush your hot water tank every six months to remove sediment by attaching a garden hose to the valve at the base.
Get in the habit
- Don’t pour grease down your kitchen sink. It can congeal, cling to your pipes and cause serious damage and blockage.
- Since caustic chemical drain cleaners can erode pipes, use a drain snake to unclog sink drains.
- Pay attention to a sudden and significant increase to your water bill, which could indicate a leak in pipes behind walls or in floors.