If You've Been a Victim of Fire or Water Damage
California is an enigma, with its sunny coastline, beautiful mountains, and deserts. With three different terrains, it’s no wonder that the weather pattern is just as strange. Recently, California was in a major drought that lasted seven years, but the weather phenomenon, El Nino, has other plans when it sends
theavy rains crashing through the state. This past winter, the coastline from San Francisco down to our sunny San Diego saw an abnormal amount of rainfall causing all sorts of flooding. This then has everyone asking; what do you do if flood damage has affected your home? Read on as we dive more into flood insurance and how to file a flood insurance claim.
Did you know that flood coverage isn’t included in your insurance policy unless you specifically ask for it? Flood coverage differs from the regular water claims that are covered under your generic homeowner’s policy. Even if you don’t live in a high-risk flood location, it is a good thing to have flood coverage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says that all 50 states experience floods and that more than 20 percent of the flood claims come from moderate to low-risk regions!
Just like with a fire claim, there are certain steps you can take to ensure that you’ll be prepared when you file a flood or even just a water claim! First things first, document your home extensively, photographing both the inside and outside of your home. Keep any documents of any upgrades or renovations you do to your home. If you don’t inform your insurance company when you make renovations or upgrades, there is always the chance that your home can be underinsured!
We’ve touched upon this previously in our How to File a Fire Claim post, but people generally insure valuables, cars, boats and etc. along with their homes. Keeping a detailed list of items such as clothing, kitchen items and the like, although not necessary, is recommended as it makes your life easier down the line. Sometimes the value of your personal belongings is higher than the average person’s, which could potentially leave you underinsured! If you have an inventory of the items in your home, you can verify whether your personal property coverage needs to be higher or lower and it will make things easier when it comes to getting coverage on both substantial losses and total losses.
If you want to be ahead of the curve, look into emergency service vendors that deal with water losses. Keep their business card or their number saved in your phone. When you file an insurance claim your insurance agent can direct you to emergency service companies, but don’t feel obligated to use anyone they recommend. You can always hire a vendor of your choosing.
Keep a copy of your insurance policy, declaration page and other relevant documents somewhere you will remember. If you can, have it on the cloud or an online server so you can find them when your home is completely flooded and not safe to return to. It will make the process of filing a flood insurance claim easier as you will need to provide your policy number to your insurer. Here’s what to expect from the flood insurance claim process:
1. Call your insurance provider to file a claim as soon as you can. You will need to provide your insurer with your policy number, phone number, and email address. They will provide you with a claim number. Make sure to write that information down.
2. Keep good records of anybody you speak to regarding your claim, whether it is your insurer, vendors, etc. Also, make sure to keep receipts of any additional living expenses you incur as a result of the loss (i.e. hotel stays and meal receipts; those are covered expenses within a homeowner’s policy).
3. Unless there have been massive floods in your area affecting many people, an adjuster will generally come to your home within a few days. Ask when you can expect an adjuster to inspect the home, and request the phone number of the adjuster’s supervisor.
4. If the adjuster cannot make it out in a relatively quick manner, make sure to hire an Emergency Services Vendor right away.
.Do not discard anything (unless your municipality requires you to for safety reasons) that is damaged because the adjuster will want to inspect these items as well. Request that the EMS vendor takes photographs of everything that needs to be disposed of.
5. Remember that personal property list we talked about earlier? You’re going to need to provide that! If you already have it ready, it will make things smoother when your insurance adjuster needs to review it. If you’re out of luck with a personal property list and have to go back and remember what it is that you had, you can always hire someone to help you set up a memory jogger. Memory joggers are really only necessary if the home is a total loss, otherwise, there are vendors who can itemize your personal property and provide estimates for it all.
You most likely haven’t read through your homeowner’s policy as thoroughly as you should. However, now that you have to file an insurance claim and need to know what is covered, you’ve probably noticed that you have a duty to protect the home from further damage. This is where an emergency services company comes in. Stagnant water can cause mold, which will inevitably cause more harm to your home. In the event of a natural disaster, many of these companies will be at capacity doing emergency services. With that said, you should make sure to call them right away and inform your insurer of when that will happen so they have a record of it and can try to make it out for inspection before then or on the same day that work begins.
Recovering from a major natural disaster is difficult and takes a lot of time. The steps you take to prepare for the worst can make all the difference when it comes to getting back on your feet. Thankfully you can keep these flood insurance claim tips in mind, should you ever face flood damage. If you finished reading this, have suffered from water damage or flood damage in your home and you still don’t know how to maneuver in the world of insurance; hire a water damage lawyer, we provide services to help you understand your policy and get your claim covered.