Water leak damage to neighbour

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Hello, I saw many smart advises on this forum and I hope to get one too. My problem is I had a leak in my house in the water supply line to my water heater. I brought a plumber and fixed a leak, but the next morning the owner of the unit underneath called me and said his house is completely destroyed and it caused by the leak from my unit. I came to his unit next day morning (i.e. 36h after the leak was fixed) and surprisely discovered that all his laminate floor is removed and hauled away and whole unit looks like there was a big team of construction workers worked there. My concern is the guy is trying to fool me - he says he called his insurance and submitted the claim, but I don't believe within 1 day he got an appraiser/adjusted coming, the adjusted made report and sent it to insurance company, the insurance accepted the claim, the owner brought a contractor and contractor removed and hauled everything away - and all this within one day only ? I had a deal with insurance companies and know the process may take a while My big concern he started the repairs long time ago and when I got a leak he decided just to use an opportunity and make me or my insurance company to pay for the repair. The damage to my unit is not so big and it's much cheaper for me just do it by myself and do not involve insurance, but my neighbour claims his damage is over $20K and tries to hold me responsible.

Have anybody had similar situation or can give some advice ? Thanks in advance

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I think you should contact your insurance company and ask them to talk to the owner or his insurance company. You need t... (more)

kuniliselliot (May. 11, 2013 @ 2:04a) |

Second that. Let ins handle it. For the record I had a flood and had people in working within 24 hours. For water d... (more)

tmwilkin (May. 11, 2013 @ 3:01p) |

Just FYI-
The water heater at our lake cottage was 29 years old and still working just fine (no leaks) when we chose to r... (more)

bxd20 (May. 13, 2013 @ 1:32p) |


Just give him your insurance information. That's what you pay them for. This happened to me before (I was the downstairs neighbor) and I had someone ripping stuff out within a few hours of detecting water dripping. Why would he wait around for days figuring out insurance and blame while his apartment is flooded?

Get down there and document date/time and what's going on in his unit

talk to a contractor and get a statement ("weve been working on this property for the past 2 weeks...yeah we saw a little bit of water come through in this spot, wasn't a big deal."

If you are SURE tell him you are going to the DA about insurance fraud, see what he does.

Let you insurance handle this one. I'm sure it's not their first time dealing with fraud

Let your insurance company deal with it.

I wouldn't assume fraud here. For one, the leak may have started before you noticed it. THe guy below you might have called his insurer and at least gotten the ball rolling on a claim and then turned around and called in repair crew within a day or two. He may not have an approved claim in hand to start the work. As long as I had an adjuster document the damage I wouldn't sit around waiting for an insurance claim to process to proceed repairing my home, he's gotta fix the damage regardless of who pays. Not saying your suspicions are wrong, but don't assume fraud with a partial picture and little proof.

Yeah, insurance..they other party can provide proof of claim, docs, etc... to insurance satisfaction.

Your insurance company will handle this one. I'm in construction and isn't unusual to have an adjuster come out and work to actually begin in a day or so especially for a water leak. His insurance will likely pay him then go after you and your insurance company themselves.

I had water damage at my home and had a crew out there ripping out carpet and flooring and cutting and removing drywall within a few hours at the instruction of my insurance company. No one wants water damage to sit very long; it only gets worse.

If his insurance is paying, why is he holding you responsible for the damage? If his insurance company contacted you, that's one thing, but it sounds like he wants his insurance to pay AND for you to write him a check?

dogman1 said:   but my neighbour claims his damage is over $20K and tries to hold me responsibleHow has he tried ?
What did he ask for ?

Is it a condo, coop, or apartment? Water damage is the number one claim for condos, I believe. If a condo, did the leak occur completely within your condo, or was some of it behind the wall?

Just let your insurance deal with it

They have ppl who will investigate if his claims are real or fake , and you pay no deductible since its a liability claim against your policy

Do not give them a penny directly

Just give him the name of your insurance company and have him contact them.

SUCKISSTAPLES said:   Just let your insurance deal with it

They have ppl who will investigate if his claims are real or fake , and you pay no deductible since its a liability claim against your policy

Do not give them a penny directly

Especially since he says he already filed a claim with his insurance. It's now between his insurance company and you, or hs insurance company and your insurance company.

Thanks all for the reply. This is condominium units. Let me bring some chronological list of events, since many asked about it:
Wed morning – I found the carpet is wet and eventually found a leak is coming out of water supply line. The plumber came in and fixed it within few hours. All the damage I have is some bubbles on the drywall and wet carpet.
The neighbor left me message at Wed midnight about I possible have a leak, as he see some water at his unit.
Thursday morning I talked with him and he told me that he didn’t make any actions yet.
Early Friday morning I walked by his place and saw everything is ripped off, cleaned and hauled away.
I know for sure he was renting his place for couple years and just decided to move back in, so this actually brought me some extra suspicious, that his renters screwed the place and he decided to repair it before living there himself.
But, he never asked me for my insurance company details, and his insurance has never contacted me, they may in the future…but not yet.
I still not believe this is my fault. If the leak was so huge that flooded whole his level, so why the wall at my place right next to the leak is almost not damaged?
The main reason I don’t want to have my insurance involved is I don’t want to pay my deductible, which is pretty big and have my premium sky rocketing. Most of the damage in my place I can fix myself and it’ll cost me less or as same as my deductible. If I’d be sure this is my fault and I destroyed his place – yes, I’d pay the deductible and let my insurance pay for the rest, but all the combination of evidences (the unit under mine was rented for a while and then the owner decided to move in, the unusual speed with how fast everything was ripped off, the fact he got his claim submitted based on his statement, but his insurance company never attempted to contact me), leads me to fraud suspicion.

I know the contractors can rip everything off and haul away within few hours – but before getting to this stage the guy had to contact insurance, schedule with appraiser, make him/her generate a report, contact contractors and schedule them to come – and finally let them make a work… I hardly believe all this can be done within one day… I had couple cases with insurance companies and just get an appraiser took me some time (the fastest was next day), same with contractors – they can make a work within few hours, but you need some time to make the schedule – and the next day will be the fastest…

dogman1 said:   I know the contractors can rip everything off and haul away within few hours – but before getting to this stage the guy had to contact insurance, schedule with appraiser, make him/her generate a report, contact contractors and schedule them to come – and finally let them make a work… I hardly believe all this can be done within one day… I had couple cases with insurance companies and just get an appraiser took me some time (the fastest was next day), same with contractors – they can make a work within few hours, but you need some time to make the schedule – and the next day will be the fastest…



Ok, I'll be the one to ask. Do you have insurance?

Yes, but like I mentioned unless I’m sure this is my fault I don’t want to have my insurance involved is I don’t want to pay my deductible, which is pretty big and have my premium sky rocketing. I have pretty good handyman skills and most of the damage in my place I can fix myself and it’ll cost me less or as same as my deductible.

dogman1 said:   If the leak was so huge that flooded whole his level, so why the wall at my place right next to the leak is almost not damaged?
Well that one is simple - gravity. Once the carpet is drenched, where else would you expect the water to go?

dogman1 said:   Yes, but like I mentioned unless I’m sure this is my fault I don’t want to have my insurance involved is I don’t want to pay my deductible, which is pretty big and have my premium sky rocketing. I have pretty good handyman skills and most of the damage in my place I can fix myself and it’ll cost me less or as same as my deductible.


Well, getting your insurance involved is the only way to prove he's guilty - you have no power to make him demands while you're slipping him a wad of cash under the table. Also, if you have to pay for his damage and yours, the expense is surely going to be a ton more than your deductible.

If the adverse parties insurance company attempts to subrograte against you and you involve your insurance company, a deductible will not apply. Homeowners insurance deductibles only apply to Section I coverages, ie your property, not Section II ie liability. If your insurance is involved your premium could be impacted however it is unlikely. If you have a loss free discount you may lose that.

Having said all that, your insurance company will not pay anything as you simply are not liable for damages, as there is no breech of duty to protect your neighbors property, thus no negligence on your behalf. You would only be liable if you knew of the water heaters condition and did nothing about it.

Regarding the speed of the tear out, it is not unusual to have an adjuster (note adjuster not Appraiser) out the same day. I own an independent adjustment firm (working for insurance companies) and it is not unusual for my guys to respond the same day. Having said that, if he called the claim in on a Friday, said he had a ton of water, it is not unusual for an insurance company to send out a restoration company particularly to avoid water sitting in the property 3-4 days thus becoming "catagory 3" water (same as sewage). A lot of remediation companies get overly aggressive in tear out and drying equipment placement, after all that is what they bill upon.

FWIW, laminate and engineered flooring products respond very poorly to water exposure, particularly hot water, so the tear out may be justified.

I would suggest you do not discuss this matter any further with the neighbor nor his insurance company. Simply give them your insurance company information should you receive a subrogation notice from the neighbors insurance carrier. Do not admit any liability and do not offer the neighbor a dime (implies liability). I can't fathom the neighbors insurance company would remotely try to subrogate this.

So should I just wait if his insurance will attempt to charge me and then make my insurance involved ?

dogman1 said:   So should I just wait if his insurance will attempt to charge me and then make my insurance involved ?

Correct, I was just editing my post.

Note, this is not legal advice nor am I representing any entity in providing this information, rather just sharing a bunch of experience and education. As they say, YMMV and no HDMI, LOL.

Actually , if you become aware of a possible loss or claim against you, and you fail to advise your insurer and all the evidence is gone, they may refuse to cover , or defend you if he sues you for the damage

Like everyone has said numerous times , you won't pay a deductible if your insurer pays for his loss .

You only pay a deductible for your own repairs

OP will not pay a deductible but rate impact is unknown.

There is no "evidence" as everything has been torn out.

OP has no reason to believe there will be a subrogation attempt until he gets a subrogation notice from the neighbors carrier. Denying defense or payment would be bad faith and unfair claims practice by OPs carrier.

Just to clarify, how old was water heater, who installed it and were there any recent repairs?

Everything hasn't been torn out of ops unit . His insurer will likely want to send an investigator out to his place , rather than him keeping quiet and replacing the water heater without giving then an opportunity to assess what went wrong

For example , if the water heater failed to due a product defect his insurer may be able to go after them . But he needs to bring in his insurer into the investigation now before the evidence is disposed of

The house is built in 1989 and I believe the heater and all the lines are original ones (I bought the house in 2005).
What is OP ?

You are the op (original poster)

No insurance will pay out without evidence of damage.

That is a really old water heater. If it had a slow leak, it could have done a lot of damage, but wouldn't your neighbor have contacted you earlier?

computerquest said:   That is a really old water heater. If it had a slow leak, it could have done a lot of damage, but wouldn't your neighbor have contacted you earlier?

He said the other unit was being rented out and the owner just recently moved back in. It's possible the renters just didn't care that there was a leak (the whole 'not our place' line of thinking). Or it's possible they did care, told the owner, and the owner ignored it and that's why they moved out.

Reason #324 not to buy a condo.

genesat said:   computerquest said:   That is a really old water heater. If it had a slow leak, it could have done a lot of damage, but wouldn't your neighbor have contacted you earlier?

He said the other unit was being rented out and the owner just recently moved back in. It's possible the renters just didn't care that there was a leak (the whole 'not our place' line of thinking). Or it's possible they did care, told the owner, and the owner ignored it and that's why they moved out.



It's also possiblethat the unit's been empty for six months, and the owner's insurance will deny the claim if they find out, which is why the owner is trying to get cash out of the OP instead of filing with insurance.

soundtechie said:   genesat said:   computerquest said:   That is a really old water heater. If it had a slow leak, it could have done a lot of damage, but wouldn't your neighbor have contacted you earlier?

He said the other unit was being rented out and the owner just recently moved back in. It's possible the renters just didn't care that there was a leak (the whole 'not our place' line of thinking). Or it's possible they did care, told the owner, and the owner ignored it and that's why they moved out.



It's also possiblethat the unit's been empty for six months, and the owner's insurance will deny the claim if they find out, which is why the owner is trying to get cash out of the OP instead of filing with insurance.


Vacancy clauses only apply to certain perils. Generally the only time water would be an issue is if the guy had a vacant property, left the water on and did not maintain adequate heat resulting in freeze of pipes and subsequent damages. This would generally not be covered.

Theft, vandalism and malicious mischief is the other biggie when it comes to unoccupancy/vacancy.

SUCKISSTAPLES said:   Everything hasn't been torn out of ops unit . His insurer will likely want to send an investigator out to his place , rather than him keeping quiet and replacing the water heater without giving then an opportunity to assess what went wrong

For example , if the water heater failed to due a product defect his insurer may be able to go after them . But he needs to bring in his insurer into the investigation now before the evidence is disposed of


And OP is not filing a claim for his damages. OP has had a plumber out and likely destroyed the chain of evidence. The water heater was reportedly installed in 1989. Statutes of limitation for product defect are way past any chance of recovery (though I really have a hard time believing it is 24 years old and was likely replaced before OP bought it in 2005 which would mean it was about due to fail in 2013). We know for a fact that the water heater has not been repaired or defective since 2005, again clearly over statue of limitations on product defect. OP has no negligence thus no liability here.

I made the wild assumption that the leaking water heater was replaced. OP, you really should replace that thing as it is likely way beyond it's life expectancy, a new unit will likely give you much more energy efficient utilization and if there were a second ensuing event, then you could well be liable as you are aware that it has problems and is beyond its life expectancy. Lots of state, utility and federal rebates/incentives out there. Now is the time to do it.

I think you should contact your insurance company and ask them to talk to the owner or his insurance company. You need to find out how did he do this. His insurance will likely pay him.
public adjuster Florida

Second that. Let ins handle it. For the record I had a flood and had people in working within 24 hours. For water damage lots of insurance companies have preferred vendors they will send out same day.

Just FYI-
The water heater at our lake cottage was 29 years old and still working just fine (no leaks) when we chose to replace it as a precaution (50 gallon, electric). The water heater at our home is about 17 years old and no leaks or issues (40 gallon, gas). I'm not suggesting 29 years is typical, but a heater made in 1989 could very well still be in place.



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