The “First 48” hours are imperative after two events in this world: solving a homicide, and remediating your home from a toilet water backup. They don’t make a TV show about remediating toilet water (as far as I know), so we are here to explain.

Close your eyes and imagine: you pull into your driveway after a long day of work. Water is flooding out of your home and into the street at an alarming pace. You have never seen so much water. You run into the house and you’re quickly soaked to your shins. You make sure everyone inside is okay and grab your irreplaceable items. What should you do next?

Step one: Call your homeowners insurance company. Most have water mitigation companies standing by for emergency situations. While not all water losses are covered under homeowners policies, your company will still likely dispatch mitigators within the first 24 hours.

Step two: Look carefully at the water. What color is it? What is floating in it? Take photographs. Even a small amount of feces or sewage can warrant comprehensive environmental testing. Insurance companies and their mitigators are notorious for downplaying levels of contamination. Remember, even if contamination is not covered by your policy, your insurer and the mitigation company still have a duty to exercise reasonable care in their remediation efforts and may be legally liable for the damage they cause. For example, in a recent case, the insurer sent their mitigation company within a few hours of a toilet water loss. Without doing any environmental testing, they set up several high-powered fans throughout the home to dry it out. As it turned out, they pointed several of the fans directly at contaminated areas. The case settled favorably for the insured even though the policy did not cover contamination clean-up.

Step three: Be sure of what you sign. You do need to authorize the mitigation company to start working. You do not, however, need to give the insurer a release from liability for any negligence by the mitigation company.

This is just the first 48 hours. If toilet water losses are not properly remediated, mold could grow, structural beams and joists could fail, floors could warp, and more. If you do not believe your insurance company is taking your loss seriously or acting quickly enough, a public adjuster or attorney could make a big difference.

Thought For The Day

Tragedy is when I cut my finger.
Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.
—Mel Brooks