What can I do if my insurer is deining my claim of a water leak because they say it has been leaking for more than 30 days but the leak was concealed behind the dishwasher?

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What can I do if my insurer is deining my claim of a water leak because they say it has been leaking for more than 30 days but the leak was concealed behind the dishwasher?

It only covers if it’s been leaking for 2 weeks or less.

Asked on February 13, 2016 under Insurance Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you disagree with either the insurer's factual determination (e.g. how long it's been leaking) or with their interpretation of your policy (e.g. when and when not they need to pay) and can't work it out with them to your satisfaction, you have the right to sue your insurer for breach of contract--an insurance policy is a contract, after all. You would need to present in court credible (in this case, plumber testimimony as well as you own testimony as "eye witnesses") evidence of when the leak started, and also present a copy of the policy and argue that under its terms, they should cover the damage & repairs; the insurer can present its own contrary evidence and interpretation, and the court will decide who is right.
Note that you have a duty in the law to "mitigate" damages, or minimize and reduce them--if you don't take steps to correct the leak and mold now, even while you are arguing over the policy, the court could decline to award you any compensation for any damage or health issues that arise after when the court feels you should have taken action. You can't necessarily wait to see if the insurer will pay before acting.


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