Is My Neighbor Responsible for Water Damage to My Townhome?
Here’s the scenario: I live in a townhome. A pipe burst in my neighbor’s wall but the water came into my property affecting my carpet, vinyl plank floors and some drywall. Is my neighbor responsible for the damage to my property since it was his pipe that burst?
Our role at Restoration Experts is to mitigate water damage, not mitigate neighbor disputes. However, our knowledge of the insurance and restoration industry can provide some helpful advice should you find yourself in the above situation.
As a homeowner you are responsible for protecting your property and preventing further damage. In most cases you should submit a claim with your own insurance company for the damage to your home, even if the source of the water damage is from your neighbor. Bill Wilson, a longtime insurance educator and CEO of insurancecommentary.com recommends filing a claim with your own insurer, which will then sort out the coverage and decide who is responsible. If the damage is covered by your policy, your insurer will pay your claim but then may subrogate – basically stepping in for you to file a claim against your neighbor’s coverage – to recoup some of the money from his insurer, if he ends up being legally responsible for the damages.
Another case for taking the initiative to make sure that your property is professionally dried out after a leak from a neighboring unit is because time is of the essence. Neighbors don’t usually have a vested interest in your property and often become slow to respond in terms of rectifying the situation. Mitigation response time can mean the difference between salvaging materials and having to tear them out.
There’s yet another advantage of filing a claim with your own insurer, even if your neighbor’s pipe is at fault. Most homeowners’ policies cover damage to the property on a replacement cost basis (and also the cost to replace damaged possessions). But if the other insurer were to pay a liability claim instead, you might recover only the cost to buy an item of the same age and condition, rather than replace it with a new item. This depreciated value, called actual cash value could be far less than the cost to replace the damaged property.