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What Are the Most Common Types of Property Damage?
October 2, 2022
What Are the Most Common Types of Property Damage?
Did wind, hail, snow, ice, water intrusion, or another unforeseen event damage your home, condo, apartment, or other property? Are you stressing over the cost of repairs, the habitability of your home, or how you'll replace what's lost? If so, don't despair. Your insurance or another insured party's policy might owe money for your losses.
Millions of Americans face devastating losses due to property damage incidents every year, and many property owners turn to their insurance providers for help when damage occurs. But unfortunately, it frustrates many policyholders to learn how unhelpful insurers can be when protecting or restoring their most precious assets.
We provide intelligent and effective representation for property owners and occupants nationwide at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. Our property damage attorneys can help you demand the compensation you deserve from an insurance claim or property damage lawsuit. Here, we'll discuss common types of property damage, how much your property damage case could be worth, and why you should hire an attorney for help with your claim. Read on or contact us now to learn more in a free case review.
Common Types and Causes of Property Damage in the U.S.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), there is roughly one property damage claim for every 20 insured U.S. homes each year. All homes are susceptible to various kinds of property damage, though homes in certain parts of the country are more at risk for specific types and causes of damage.
Let's look at some information available from the III and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) to learn more about the most common property damage types and causes across the U.S.
Damage from fires and lightning strikes
Fire- and lightning-related property damage tends to be less common than many other types of property damage. Only about one in every 385 insured homes in the U.S. has a property damage claim related to fire or lightning damage each year. But, the consequences of fires and lightning strikes tend to be particularly destructive. If a lightning strike is forceful enough or a fire spreads quickly, it can destroy an entire home and everything inside.
Some of the most common causes of house fires include:
Poor electrical work
Overloaded electrical outlets
Home cooking appliance fires
Home heating fires
Defective clothes and washing machines
Fire is the most significant danger lighting can pose to a structure is fire, but power surges or shock waves can also damage a home or business.
Lightning can cause power surge damage when it chooses a property's electrical wiring as a primary or secondary path. Surges can damage televisions, computers, and other electronics. At close range, the shock wave from a lightning strike could shatter glass, blow out plaster walls, and crack foundations.
Damage from high winds, tornadoes, and hail
Properties in the central and southwestern states tend to be most at risk for tornado damage. On average, the U.S. sees more than 1,100 tornadoes yearly, resulting in significant property damage and destruction. High winds from tornadoes, high winds, and hail can destroy roof materials, break windows or dent siding, dent and damage vehicles, harm plants, trees, and other landscaping, and more. Approximately one in every 35 insured U.S. homes has a yearly wind- or hail-related property damage claim.
Hurricane, storm, and flood damage
Homes along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coastline are most susceptible to damage from hurricanes, but severe storms can occur anywhere. When a hurricane or intense storm hits, properties can sustain damage from extreme winds, heavy rain, and storm surges. Together, these destructive elements often lead to flooding, structural collapse, and other forms of devastating property damage.
Blizzards, snowstorms, and extreme winter weather in colder parts of the U.S. can also contribute to high winds, excess moisture, and other damaging factors. Roughly one in 60 insured homes has a property damage claim related to water or freezing every year.
When snow or ice accumulates on roofs, by entryways, or near foundations, it can seep into nooks and crannies, melt, and refreeze. And as snowmelt refreezes, it expands, turning small cracks into large ones, causing leaks, and accelerating damage to the home's structure. Ice and snow thaw completely in spring and summer, leading to widespread flooding, damaging the home's foundation and causing extensive damage inside.
Damage from sinkholes, earthquakes, crime, and other catastrophes
An earthquake or sinkhole can occur anywhere in the U.S., but earthquakes and sinkholes that result in extensive property damage are rare. Severe earthquakes occur most often in states bordering the Pacific Ocean. And per the U.S. Geological Survey, sinkhole damage affects properties in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. Homeowners' insurance provides sinkhole coverage in Florida and Tennessee.
Every property is also potentially vulnerable to damage from theft, vandalism, home invasion, and other property crimes. Statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that a property-related crime occurred about once every five seconds in one recent year. And although certain parts of the U.S. tend to have higher crime rates, about one in every 525 insured homes has a theft-related property damage incident each year.
Finally, some property damage results from natural catastrophes, like animal attacks or other unexpected accidents, like vehicle-on-home collisions. Coverage for these unusual incidents can vary depending on the policy.
Fortunately, most homeowners' and renters' insurance policies contain injury liability coverage, which pays for medical costs associated with injuries any visitors sustain in your home during covered events. Roughly one in every 1,425 homeowners' insurance policies has a bodily injury or property damage liability claim for which policyholders or family members are liable each year.
Regardless of the exact nature or cause of a damaging event, the result is often the same for homeowners and occupants: destroyed possessions, extensive financial loss, and sometimes totally uninhabitable living spaces.
Depending on the circumstances, a catastrophic event may cause:
Flooding and water damage from plumbing system issues, sewage backup, and leaks in roofs, windows, pipes, or foundations
Damage to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
Structural damage to home foundations and frames due to fire, water intrusion, mold, mildew, and infestations of termites or other pests
Damage to roof structures, including internal decking, insulation, shingles, tiles, gutters, skylights, solar panels, weather vanes, and roof ornaments
Damage to exterior paint, siding, stucco, cladding, plaster, brick, or stone
Damage to attics, basements, crawl spaces, garages, and “mother-in-law” suites
Other exterior damage, such as damage to vehicles, outdoor furniture, patios, balconies, windows, shutters, sheds, trees, playsets, gardens, and improvements
Internal damage to or loss of walls, ceilings, floors, carpets, furnishings, clothing, valuables, electrical devices, and other personal property
How Much Is My Property Damage Claim Worth?
If you purchased homeowners' or renters' insurance and a covered event damaged your property, you could turn to your policy for compensation for your losses.
Depending on the circumstances, the value of your unique property damage claim could include:
The costs of repairing or replacing shingles, gutters, solar arrays, or roofs
The costs of repairing damage to foundations or other large home structures
The costs of repairing damage to siding, stucco, windows, and home exteriors
Restoration or replacement costs for damaged or stolen furniture, rugs, or linens
The costs of water extraction, fumigation, odor removal, or mold abatement
The costs of accommodations and dining, if the home is uninhabitable
Lost income from any time you miss at work while dealing with property damage
Business losses, if you conduct business on the property
Any medical expenses you incur due to injuries from covered events
Subjective losses, such as diminished quality of life resulting from the damage
Keep in mind that securing the money your insurance provider owes you is often easier said than done. Insurance carriers often use every tool and tactic possible to minimize or eliminate financial obligations. The easiest way to do so is by undervaluing or denying policyholder claims. The best way to level the playing field and demand fair compensation for your losses is to work with a skilled property damage lawyer.
Filing a Property Damage Claim With the Insurance Company
When a covered event damages your property, you should be able to count on the insurance policy you paid for to bail you out. In an ideal world, you would file an insurance claim and collect the money owed to you. Unfortunately, getting what you're entitled to might be more challenging than you think.
Insurance adjusters and other representatives may come across like friendly people trying to help, but remember that they are not on your side. The goal of the insurance company and those who work for it is to increase profits and decrease expenses, which means they have little incentive to pay full or fair value for valid claims. And unless you have experience in the insurance industry or legal field, you'll likely have difficulty recognizing settlement offers that are worth your time.
Fortunately, you won't need to face these challenges alone if you hire a lawyer with the resources and experience to handle your claim while you focus on getting your life or business back on track. You lawyer can estimate a fair value for your claim, handle the insurance company and necessary paperwork, and work to recover the money they owe you. And, if the insurance company refuses to play fair, you need a lawyer who won't hesitate to file a lawsuit to seek compensation in court.
How Could a Property Damage Lawyer Help Me?
From the moment you hire a property damage attorney to represent you, you can count on them to help you by:
Reviewing all relevant insurance policies to determine the extent of the coverage available to you for property repairs, injuries, hotel stays, and incidental losses
Conducting an independent investigation into the event to identify contributing factors, gather valuable evidence, and determine which parties may be liable
Assessing the damage that affected your property or possessions to clarify which items are or are not covered by your insurance policy
Working with appraisers and other experts to calculate the value of any real estate, land improvements, or personal property that got damaged or lost
Gathering insurance papers, incident reports, property repair estimates, witness statements, banking records, and other helpful documentation for your claim
Managing essential case documents, dates, and deadlines on your behalf
Communicating with repair contractors, property owners' associations, insurance companies, other attorneys, and any other relevant parties on your behalf
Filing claim papers on your behalf and maximizing the value of your settlement
Taking your case to court and representing you at trial, if the insurance company refuses to pay for damages that the terms of your policy should cover
If you are dealing with an unexpected property damage incident, do not hesitate to contact an experienced property damage insurance claim lawyer for help. Your lawyer could review your case and policy, and advise you of your rights and legal options.
Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney
This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.