"Damage" versus "Deterioration"
It's important to understand the difference between "damage" and "deterioration" in regards to insurance claims. Damage usually refers to a recent event (within 14 days of the reported date of loss). Deterioration refers to a longer duration loss which could be months or even years. Damage is typically covered, deterioration is typically not covered.
Determining Duration of a Loss
When examining a reported loss site, look for clues that give insight to the loss duration:
Dirt/Debris/Repairs- for example if a crack is filled with dirt & debris or has been painted over, its most likey more than 14 days in duration.
Sharp edges, clean cracks- Sharp edges versus rounded edges are an indicator of recent loss. If a crack has weathered edges than its been there for more than 14 days.
Clean spots- When looking for evidence of recent structural movement, clean spots or clean areas are often created as structural components move. Clean spots are also used in hail damage analysis as the hail will often remove algae and staining on decks and concrete.
Corrosion- Fasteners and materials exposed to moisture and weather over extended periods of time will exhibit varying degrees of corrosion. A roofing nail can be a good indicator of how long a shingle has been missing.
Stains- Ceiling stains, stains under sinks, exterior wall stains....these items help to put a time duration on the loss. However it is important to recognize that stains appear over varying timeframes based on source and location. Laboratory testing at Hayes Engineering revealed that some staining, like undersink cabinet staining, can occur within days if the water leak picks up corrosion from the pipe leak location. While other stains like interior ceiling stains can take months to appear from repeated wet/dry water intrusion cycles.
For specific material duration testing/analysis, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.