Making a homeowners insurance claim for stucco damage in Florida.
What is stucco and how does it get damaged?
Stucco is basically cement plaster which is applied to either the exterior or the interior of buildings and is designed to provide a seamless finish to a wall. It can be crafted into many different textures and is available in a wide range of colors.
While it may look nice sitting on the exterior of your home, stucco can be a huge issue for homeowners because water can actually become trapped behind the outer layer and cause significant damage to your walls.
Often times, this damage is caused by the utilization of what is known as the exterior insulation and finish system. This system, if not properly applied to your home, will break down and let the water inside your walls. Once the water is inside, it causes the wooden structures inside your walls to severely rot. The result is a rotting foundation and a potential stability issue in your home.
This problem is especially an issue in homes which were built prior to 2009. Most homes built prior to that year have never had an inspection to ensure that the building envelope does not need to be replaced, and almost always, water has made its way behind that stucco and caused damage to the underlying structure.
Stucco can be a major issue not just for homeowners, but also for businesses, especially those which are on or near the water here in Florida.
Common forms of stucco damage
Stucco is a big issue for home and business owners not simply because of the extent of damage it can do but also because of the myriad of ways it can possibly cause damage to a home or business. As mentioned before, stucco damage can cause damage to walls and weaken the integrity of a building. The moisture that contributes to stucco damage can also result in the growth of black mold that’s spores cause serious health issues.
The moisture that comes from stucco damage can also lead to the infestation of insects like termites that can further damage the structure of your home or. The moisture can also cause an increase in humidity in the home which in certain cases can damage property or causing illness.
What should you do if you have damage caused by stucco?
The first thing you should do is to identify signs of damage. These can include:
- Water drips, stains, or condensation on windows
- Dark streaks where the roof and walls meet
- Cracking or breaking of the exterior of the building
- Water damage to the structure
- Dark streaks or stains under the corners of windows
- Missing caulking around windows
- Increased humidity and moisture
- Discoloration at the base of windows
- Moldy and foul smells
- Damp or wet carpet or flooring
- Warped base trim
- Leaking windows or doors
The next most important thing you can do is hire a certified stucco specialist to come out and examine your home. This inspector will be able to tell whether or not you may have an issue with trapped water, and can give you documentation that you will need when dealing with the insurance company. These inspections will be able to pinpoint the location of the damaged stucco, and will give you a better idea of how much damage has been done, and the measures needed to repair the walls.
What to do if you fear you have stucco damage?
The first and most important thing you can do is document the home damage and report the issue to your homeowner’s insurance company. Adequate documentation is key when dealing with a homeowners insurance claim. Make sure that you have photos of the damage or faulty stucco, and if you have the inspectors report, provide that to your insurance company as well. The more information they have the better they will be able to assist you.
But you should know, not all stucco claims will be covered by insurance. Insurance companies are in the business of saving as much money as possible, and if they find some way to refuse to honor your claim, they will. Typically, in order to succeed on a stucco claim, the stucco must have been applied by someone who is licensed, the damage must have taken place after the insurance policy went into effect, and you must be able to prove the damage.
For more information, read our in-depth article regarding making a home insurance claim.
Should you consult an attorney regarding your stucco damage?
It’s always important to consult with an attorney regarding any homeowners insurance claim that you may have, especially one where the insurance company has failed to properly compensate you for your loss.
If you have stucco damage because of water leaking into your walls, more than one party may actually be at fault.
On some properties, it may be the result of faulty construction. During the construction of the house, there may have been faulty design or inadequate workmanship which caused the stucco to allow water to reach your wall.
In other cases, it may have been a repair that was made after construction which caused the leak. Either way, the water damage caused by the defective stucco, depending on your specific homeowner’s insurance policy and its language, maybe a covered loss.
What remedies are available to me for stucco damage?
If you are successful on your stucco claim, the remedies available can vary. Typically, the costs associated with the inspection and the removal and replacement of the damaged stucco are items that the insurance company can potentially be liable for reimbursing.
It’s important, even if you have submitted a stucco claim and been denied, to contact an attorney. Often times, insurance companies will deny a claim hoping that you accept the denial and do not look further into the policy to find what is known as an “ensuing covered loss”. Even if the homeowner’s insurance contract does not specifically state that it covers damage caused by stucco, other provisions in the contract can usually be applied to make sure that you are still compensated for your loss.
Seek an experienced stucco damage attorney?
If you believe that you have stucco damage and your insurance company has denied your claim or is refusing to pay for the damage, contact Geoffery Pfeiffer at the Dolman Law Group today.
Our attorneys are experienced at identifying stucco damage which may be covered under your policy, and presenting a strong case to the insurance company. The result is getting homeowners the maximum amount of money they deserve.
The initial consultation is free and you will better understand whether or not you have a claim, and the likely recourse available.
The number for our Clearwater office is 727-451-6900. You can also fill out our contact form or chat with a representative by clicking the Live Chat button in the upper right corner.
Don’t wait one more second for the justice you deserve. The longer you wait the more damage could potentially be done, and the more money you could potentially lose. Contact us today!