Old pipes, Floods, Homeowner's Insurance, and other problem issues.

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Once upon a time, I had a flood in my townhome or glorified condo, as they call it.

The neighbors shower pipe burst and flooded me twice.

It was a mess. I digress.

The story is long and convoluted and my place was quite polluted.

It was also speculation along the way, that I might have a slab leak.

But, I didn't. :)

Slab leaks require digging through cement to get to pipes. A jackhammer to fix, costing thousands to fix.

Even worse, my neighbors had no homeowner's insurance and paid for their damages (new bathroom, essentially) and my damages in cold hard earned cash. A lesson learned for them, and somewhat of a Godsend for me, because I wasn't the one who caused the damage. And, trust me I didn't have near the damage the neighbors had.

Now, that I finally have my place back to normal with a small replacement of wallboard, paint, flooring and carpet replaced, I can breath again.

Note: The following is personal opinion, do your own research as well. I am not a lawyer or giving legal advice!

What I have learned:

Air mattresses are not that comfortable, but better than sleeping on the floor.

Mold and mildew are things you need to be highly aware of, because mold especially can make you quite sick, and mildew smells awful. Everything needs to be removed and big fans are needed to dry things. Luckily, I did this immediately, but still got a bit sick from the moisture.

Lifting heavy things is not a wise idea - use furniture sliders and go easy. Obviously, have someone help. Don't think you're Superman or Woman.

Checking for slab leaks is tricky business and requires a very small camera that will go through two inch pipes underground. Note: Get on knees and pray you don't have or develop slab leaks.

California Law does not mandate homeowner's insurance! Surprised? Yet another condition most are not aware of in CA. Loan companies may require it and Property Mgmt (for condos) may require it, but it is not a law in the State of CA. to have it. Loan companies do give loans all the time without the buyer obtaining homeowner's insurance. Some will tell you to either get it or go elsewhere for your loan. Loan companies will often allow condo/townhome buyers to go in under the guise of the complex blanket insurance, which covers very little. Many, like my neighbor, found that out too late. Last of all, but not least....anyone buying a place cash or those who have their mortgage paid off cannot be required to get homeowner's insurance.

Now, not having private homeowner's insurance is risky business. Your place could burn down and you have no money to rebuild. Also of issue, is not having ENOUGH homeowner's insurance coverage to rebuild in case of fire. You could essentially lose everything. Many have found this out too late and had to use retirement money to rebuild.

If you live in a condo, and you have private insurance based upon the difference of the complex blanket policy, you might think it's a good thing, but it very well is not. Most Property Mgmt. companies will not let you use any of their blanket insurance for things inside, even if the insurance rider says it has coverage. They usually will only cover outside structure. Beware of condo CC & R's stating "they cover nothing on the inside". It's tricky and not very nice business. I have to say that I find Property Mgmt. companies in it for something else, but they are not going to help the homeowner. What I've explained above is a situation that might have been individual to my complex, but could be shared with many other complexes as well. Know your blanket insurance policies and also what the CC & R's state. Even the board members in my complex did not know all the facts. Here, we now have heads that are spinning and a can or worms has been opened. The insurance policy and the CC & R's cancel each other out in the complex where I live. My insurance agent covers both the complex policy and my private policy and based my insurance on the difference of the complex policy. What does that mean? I did not and have not in all these years had enough coverage for fire. Major revamping is in order, and some people are looking quite stupefied.

All in all, if your neighbors have no insurance and they cause you damage, you have the choice of filing on your own policy (but don't do it unless you absolutely have to) (see info below). The neighbors might opt to pay for your damages, which is preferable, and hopefully the end result. If not, you either file a claim on your insurance, pay it out of your pocket, or sue them. Oh, and if you don't have homeowners and you caused the damage...well, umm...guess what?

Last of all, but not least - you really shouldn't file any homeowner's insurance claim unless you have mega damage as in thousands and thousands. If you do file, it will go out onto a report called CLUE. It is on record for at least five years and real estate agents and other insurance agents have privy to it. You run the risk of having your insurance "not renewed", if you file claims on your property, or if they decide to keep you, you'll likely pay high risk premiums, thereafter. In addition, anyone looking to sell a home could essentially ward off buyers if the potential buyer has the CLUE report pulled and they see claims for water damage, etc.

As a final note, I would never buy another condo in the State of CA. It's laws for homeowners are not in their best interest when common walls are shared. For single homeowners without insurance, your place could burn down and start the neighbor's house on fire and you are also affected in the same way. Most other states do require proof of Homeowner's Insurance - go figure that one. But, the bottom line is that we pay for insurances that we seem to be swayed from using when needed. We are at the mercy of the insurance company to keep us or not to keep us when and if we do have a problem. I love the fact that they collect our money every month, and can wreak havoc on your life when you need them.

What is that old saying of "damned if you do and damned if you don't?"

In closing, whatever I share here that might shed some knowledge and enlightenment for you, the reader.... then as Martha would say, "It's a good thing!"

Life as a homeowner can be challenging, sometimes rewarding and sometimes very stressful, but then isn't life that way in general?

1 Comment

I have to say I had the opposite experience - my insurance company paid out THOUSANDS when my roof blew off after I had owned the house for one month (and made only one premium payment). Since then, of course, they've told me not to file a claim unless I absolutely have to, because yes, the roof is on my record for five years (almost up) and meanwhile, they've made more money than the roof back over and over again. And yet, I will happily pay. I can only imagine what life would be like without it!

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