(a) The Commission’s Delegation of Authority identifies those WSSC staff members who are authorized to settle claims for damage arising from WSSC water and sewer mains regardless of whether WSSC might be held legally liable for such claims. Pursuant to the provisions of Article 29, § 18-106, Annotated Code of Maryland, payments to settle claims are limited to actual property damage. Payment of claims due to sewer backups and/or broken or leaking water mains maintained by WSSC is limited to real property and the contents therein. Absent legal liability, no payment will be made for bodily injury suffered as a result of these events. No payment will be made on a “no-fault” basis for motor vehicle accidents arising from leaking or broken water mains.
(b) Once the Claims Section has been notified of a claim by either telephone, email, in writing, or in person, a claims representative will be assigned to investigate. The claims representative will contact the customer as quickly as possible, but no later than 48 hours after notification.
(c) After contacting the claimant, the claims representative will determine the circumstances and the extent of the damages. If the claim involves real and/or personal property damages as a result of a problem with water or sewer lines maintained by WSSC, a claim form will be provided to the claimant. In addition, the claimant will be advised to:
(1) Provide a list of the damaged property, including the ages of all items claimed.
(2) Furnish copies of all available receipts or other basis for estimated replacement costs, including bills or any other documentation required to support the request for reimbursement.
(3) Allow for inspection of the damaged property, as often as is reasonably necessary.
(4) Make reasonable efforts to protect the damaged property from further damage or destruction.
(5) Provide all required homeowner’s insurance information, including but not limited to:
(i) The insurance company.
(ii) The policy number.
(iii) The agent’s name and phone number.
(iv) Whether a claim has been made and, if so, the claim number and the name and address of the adjuster handling it.
(d) After inspecting the property and reaching agreement with the claimant that all the necessary documentation has been acquired, the claims representative will evaluate the value of the claim. Real property will be evaluated based on competitive estimates and/or independent estimates for repairing or replacing the damage, less applicable depreciation. Personal property will be evaluated based on reasonable replacement costs of like kind and quality property, less applicable depreciation.
(e) Evaluating a claim typically takes a claim representative between 30 and 120 days from receipt of all documentation, depending on the nature and size of the claim. If the evaluation exceeds the claims representative’s delegated authority, the evaluation will be reviewed by the next ranking employee indicated in the Delegation of Authority.
(f) Upon approval of the evaluation, a settlement offer will be made to the claimant. Payment will be confined to the repair costs or the actual cash value of the property, whichever is less. The actual cash value is the depreciated value of the property. For example, if it costs $500.00 to repair an appliance, but the depreciation value of that appliance is only $200.00, the Commission will limit its payment to $200.00.
(g) All claims paid in the absence of legal liability will be limited to property damage. No payments will be made for personal injuries, lost wages, inconvenience, mental anguish, business interruption, diminished value, or for anything other than direct property damage on this basis. Payments may include reimbursement for cleaning bills, plumbing bills, or other services necessary to restore or repair damaged property. Payments will be made to the owner of the real and/or personal property only. Absent legal liability, no payments will be made to insurers of damaged property under their rights of subrogation. Moreover, this chapter creates no rights or causes of action that do not already exist under Maryland law.
(h) In determining actual cash value, WSSC will be guided by depreciation methods generally accepted in the claims industry. All settlement offers will be presented as a lump sum figure. (Amended during 2019 codification; CUS 08-01 § 3)