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Water damage caused by unknown source

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state? Tennessee.

A few months ago, we noticed that the floor in our kitchen in front of the stove was suddenly swollen. Upon further inspection, we noted that the floor was swollen along the entire wall of the kitchen and into the laundry room. We also found water droplets along the outside of the vent pipe and (inside the cabinet) going from the vent-a-hood above the stove - not puddles or large amounts just moisture. This was following a big hurricane somewhere down south - we are in west Tennessee.

We then had a friend (handyman) come over and go under the house so that we could determine the source of the apparent water damage. He found NO water under the house. There were no signs of leaks under the house. He then went into the attic and identified a place that appeared that water had come in a vent on the roof, run down the inside of the roof, and then down the wall. The area was dry at the time though. Following another rain storm, he checked again, and there were no signs that the leak was continuing. So, it appears that the wind from the bad storm that proceeded the floor swelling may have just blown water at the right angle for the water to blow into the vent on the roof.

I did not think about this being a homeowner's claim. I always thought about insurance being for things like fire, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc. Since there was no evidence of a problem that needed to be fixed, we just waited two months and then had a contractor come out to give us a repair quote on replacing the floor, which had since reduced in swelling and became weak/soft in places. The contractor advised that we should have filed a homeowner's claim. So, that's when we did.

The claim representative came out and looked in the attic. He claims to have found no signs of water there. He then asked that we have a plumber come out and find the leak that he said was apparently under the house. Plumber comes out, says there is absolutely no water, but there is a water line of the foundation indicating there has been water under there at some point. Plumber theorizes that the water came in from the roof somehow and ran down the wall. Claim representative talks to the plumber, who advises there is no sign of water. It rains, so claim representative asks us to go out and see if there is any water under the house. There is NOT. Claim representative comes out and goes under the house himself and finds NO signs of water.

Claim representative comes out again with a moisture meter, and checks numerous locations throughout the kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom, and finds NO moisture. Makes suggestion that the problem might be due to settling. :rolleyes: Huh? It's swollen and falling through now in places, and there was moisture obvious in the cabinet above the stove (mold has since formed in that cabinet).

Fast forward a couple more weeks to yesterday. I called to get an update on the status of the claim. Claim representative called back and left a message indicating that since they could not identify the source of the water damage, they felt that it was from a long-term water leak, which is not covered by our plan. We also received a letter yesterday afternoon, which states "Our investigation has determined that the cause and origin of the damage is long-term water leak, which resulted in the kitchen and laundry room floors buckling as well as the formation of mold. We must regretfully advise you that your homeowner's policy...specifically excludes water damage unless the loss is sudden and accidental. We are unable to extend coverage for the resulting water damage." It further states "Although the causes of loss outlined in this letter are not covered under this policy, as a homeowner, you are now aware of these problems. These problems, if not repaired, treated or remediate in a timely manner could cause further damage to your dwelling and property. It is therefore your responsibility as a homeowner to address these problems in a prompt manner to mitigate further damage to your dwelling."

I assure you this was sudden. One morning we are walking through our kitchen with no problem. That night, I am walking across the floor and trip on a high spot by the stove. That's sudden. I need some advise and guidance here please. What do I do?

How can they say that the damage is caused by a long-term water leak if NONE has been found? Furthermore, what is it that we are expected to repair to prevent further damage to our dwelling if there is no problem causing damage to our dwelling currently?

Advise please????


Senior Member
The problem is that unless you can prove that it was sudden, they are not required to pay, per your policy. It is unfortunate that you didn't think to file a claim sooner. That may have helped you to prove that it WAS sudden. By the way, homeowner's insurance does NOT cover earthquakes.

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