Experiencing major damage to your beloved home after a flood can be devastating. Sadly, it doesn’t take very much water to cause thousands of dollars in damage to your home and your belongings. In fact, according to FEMA, just one inch of water can cause more than $25,000 worth of damage. If you experience flood damage, the first thing you’ll want to do is begin the steps to file a claim with your flood insurance provider.
Here are the five steps to file a flood claim with your insurance agent or carrier:
Step 1: Take Action to Mitigate Further Damages
The standard NFIP policy specifically states that they “do not insure for direct physical loss caused directly or indirectly by failure to inspect and maintain the property after a flood recedes.”
Insureds are at risk of not having their loss covered if they fail to take action to mitigate further damages. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to do all they can to prevent the property from incurring more damage. For example, homeowners should take steps to prevent the formation and spread of mold after floodwaters recede.
Step 2: File Your Claim
Depending on your insurance company’s process, you’ll file a claim with your agency or carrier by visiting their website or calling them directly to report the damage. You can expect several questions, including:
- The date of damage
- The cause of the damage
- A description of the type of damage you’ve experienced
Step 3: Receive A Claim Number
Once the agent understands the damage, they will assign you a claim number and an adjuster to go to your home and evaluate the damage. This claim number can be used when you call or check the status of your claim online. It’s essentially your digital “file folder.”
It’s important to keep thorough documentation post-flood. Photographs, videos, receipts, or proof of damaged goods, etc. can all be used if you feel your insurance company’s reimbursement estimate is too low. If your home is uninhabitable and you acquire hotel expenses, keeping receipts will be critical in ensuring you are reimbursed, if applicable.
Step 4: Your Property Will Be Inspected and Reviewed
The adjuster will come to your home and do the following:
- Evaluate each room and discuss property loss with you
- Take photos to provide a room-by-room damage estimate of your home and personal property
- Collect any receipts or estimates you may have already obtained to repair or cover existing damages. It is important to know your options outside of standard NFIP coverage. Private carriers offer “Additional Living Expense” coverage for extra expenses such as alternate housing or hotels, cars, personal property kept in basements, valuable papers such as stock certificates, and more.
After that, your insurance carrier will thoroughly review the adjuster’s inspection report and compare it against your flood policy terms and conditions to determine an outcome.
Step 5: Your Insurance Carrier Will Determine Payout
Finally, your insurance adjuster will contact you. If you’re entitled to a payout, they will let you know the total payment for covered damage. If you’re unhappy with the adjuster’s estimate, you always have the option to hire a public adjuster who can come in as an unbiased third-party to evaluate your property to assess damages, and then represent you, should you decide to appeal.
The turnaround time for processing a flood claim varies from case to case. It is inevitable that your insurance provider will have an influx of claims after a major weather disaster, so it’s important to exercise patience.
The aftermath of flood damage can be devastating and overwhelming. However, flood insurance coverage can make this stressful situation so much easier on you and your family.
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