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New home nightmare: couple says insurance company won’t cover surprise water damage

Last Updated Nov 5, 2019 at 9:27 am MST

Summary

Fitzpatricks say they had a home inspection before purchasing the house and there was no leak noted

Wawanesa rejected claim, stating the leak was pre-existing

Home inspector says he has report, photos to prove there was no leak before purchase

CALGARY – It’s a first-time homeowner’s nightmare: just weeks after moving into their Calgary, Andy and Melissa Fitzpatrick discovered water leaking into their bedroom.

And now they’re left with the cleanup and the cost, despite having insurance and having the home inspected.

The Fitzpatricks bought their first home in July.

“I can’t remember how many times we walked over here and took pictures in front of the for sale sign because it was just incredible that we finally made it,” said Andy. But the excitement was shortlived.

Instead of hanging pictures, the couple ended up ripping apart walls and tearing up carpets trying to find the cause of the water damage in their seemingly-perfect new home.

“[There were] puddles under our bed. You would leave clothes on it and it would be sopping wet,” said Melissa, adding the water kept coming.

Water damage shown under carpets in the Fitzpatricks’ new home. (CREDIT: Andy and Melissa Fitzpatrick)

“The drywall was wet enough I could push my finger through it,” said Andy.

The couple decided to call in professionals to find and fix the issue, but their insurance company, Wawanesa, denied their claim. The company says the water damage was caused by a “pre-existing issue”.

Andy and Melissa, who hired a home inspector before buying, say the only thing they were made aware of a few water stains.

Water damage shown at the Fitzpatricks’ new home. (CREDIT: Andy and Melissa Fitzpatrick)

“We were told it’s attic rain, which is a condition that happens in newer homes because they don’t vent as well as older houses,” said Melissa.

The denial of the claim from the insurance company, however, points to a puncture in the metal flashing on the roof which Wawanesa says was caused by faulty workmanship when the home was built, therefore making it a pre-existing condition.

CityNews reached out to the home inspector and he said he walked the Fitzpatricks’ roof personally–looking specifically for signs of distress and at the time of inspection the roof flashing was intact. He also says he used thermal imaging and moisture meters during his inspection and at the time it was dry.

The inspector added he has a 60-page report with images to back up his findings.

“They rejected the claim, or denied the claim, before the restoration company had even determined for sure where the water was coming from,” said Melissa. “That’s what I didn’t understand from the beginning. How could they deny it when we didn’t even [have answers]?”

So far, the Fitzpatricks say they’ve spent upwards of $12,000 to make the necessary repairs. By the time it’s all said and done they estimate it will be closer to $20,000.

Melissa and Andy have, for the most part, weathered the storm and are in the final stages of repairs. But the couple says they’re carefully reviewing the policy they purchased.

“We just want to get the house liveable again and enjoy the biggest purchase of our lives.”

A statement from the insurance company says sometimes policyholders disagree with the company’s rulings. If that’s the case and the concerns have not been resolved by Wawanesa, clients can contact the Office of the Ombudsman for an independent review.

For privacy reasons, Wawanesa says it won’t be commenting on any specifics in the Fitzpatricks’ claim.