Had Flood Damage? How to File a Flood Insurance Claim

Had Flood Damage? How to File a Flood Insurance Claim
Mike Valles

Most everyone has heard of the flooding that recently took place in Kentucky. It occurred suddenly, offering no time to pack and move out in advance. Many people lost everything. If those floods happened in your area, would flood insurance cover your losses?

Floods are the costliest natural disasters in America, states FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). They also are the most common natural disaster. When a flood occurs in your area, here is how to file a flood insurance claim.

Start Your Filing Procedure

As soon after the flood as possible, you want to start the filing process. You start by contacting your insurance company where you have the flood policy. You will be assigned an agent who will call later to select a date to view your property—in person or remotely. Ask your agent if getting advance money is possible, which will be subtracted from the total amount given.

When you call, you need to provide some information about your policy. You need to give the agent your policy number, a phone number or email where you can be reached, and the name of your mortgage company—if you have an outstanding mortgage.

FEMA says that if there has been a Presidential Disaster Declaration for the flood area, you can contact disaster assistance for financial help not covered by your flood insurance policy. You can apply for this special assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov, or call 800-621-3362 (800-462-7585 TTY). FEMA says this declaration only occurs in about 50 percent of the floods.

Document the Damage

Before you enter your property, ensure that the power is off if there is any standing water inside. If it is on, there is a risk of electric shock.

As soon as it is safe to enter your property, take pictures or videos of the damage. You need to take a lot of pictures or video footage of the damage and take them before moving or throwing away anything.

FEMA has some guidelines for the pictures you'll need, including:
  • Pictures showing flood water height in your home
  • Structural damage
  • Damage to appliances, TVs, and computers—take a picture of the make, the model, and the serial number.
  • Damaged carpet, flooring, and curtains—keep some damaged samples to show the adjuster.
  • Damaged HVAC, heater, electrical and water systems—do not sign contracts or start repairs before consulting with your adjustor. Building permits will also be needed before any repairs take place.
  • Remove materials that will likely mold—but photograph them first—items such as clothes, pillows, food, etc.

Your Immediate Responsibility After a Flood

After taking your pictures, you need to know that it is your responsibility to prevent as much further damage as possible. Your insurance coverage may be limited if you did little or nothing to ensure your home was not damaged further. Flood insurance only covers damage caused directly from the flood—not those caused by any after-effects.
The most likely damage you want to try and prevent is further water damage from rain, and mold. FEMA warns that rain entering through damaged windows or a roof will cause damage not covered by flood insurance.
Mold can cause potentially serious health problems and make a home unlivable. If a home has water in it or a lot of wet objects, mold can start forming within 48 hours—or less. You can visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website to learn how to treat and remove mold from your home after a flood.
Only two exceptions should prevent you from cleaning up, according to NerdWallet. They are: if the area has an official closure, or the ongoing presence of floodwaters prevents entrance to your home.

Meet With Your Insurance Adjuster

Once the adjustor has detailed the report, you will meet with the adjustor again. Look over the report to make sure that all your claims are there. You will only get paid for items and damage on the list. Feel free to ask questions about anything that you expect to be covered.
Later on, you will get the estimated payout for the damage. Look it over carefully to ensure everything is there that should be. This stage finalizes how much money you will get, so check it carefully.

Get Your Payment

You will receive your payment after the above stage.
The amount you receive is based on your policy and the documentation you provided.

Other Things You Need to Know About Flood Insurance

1. Standard homeowner's insurance policies do not cover floods.

When you buy a homeowner's insurance policy, you will discover there are some exceptions to coverage. Most of them will only cover named disasters—and flooding is not one of them.

2. Coverage must be purchased separately.

There are two kinds of flood insurance. There is 1) a standard flood insurance policy, which covers your property, NH.gov says. Separate buildings on your property need to have a separate policy.
The other type of flood insurance is 2) personal property coverage. The policies are separate and must be purchased separately.

3. There is some property not covered by flood insurance.

It is just as important to understand what is not covered by flood insurance. Some of these things that are not covered are apt to surprise homeowners. They include:
  • Most property outside a home or garage: decks and patios, swimming pools, fences, seawalls, septic systems, wells, and landscaping;
  • Expenses for temporary housing and living expenses while your home is being repaired;
  • Valuable papers: stock certificates, precious metals, currency, and more;
  • Personal property kept in basements;
  • Cars, self-propelled vehicles, and their parts; and
  • Businesses are not covered for business interruption.
When a house has a space under the lowest floor, NH.gov says that most of the things under that floor are not covered. It includes a basement, crawlspace, walkout basements, and elevated buildings. There are three exceptions:
  • Window air conditioners and portable ones;
  • Food freezers and the food in them—but not refrigerators; and
  • Washers and dryers.

4. Limits of coverage

Policies written by National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) have limitations on them. The maximum flood insurance coverage you can get from NFIP, says Insurance Information Institute, Inc., is $250,000 for property damage and $100,000 for personal property damage. You can purchase amounts higher than this through private insurance companies that offer excess flood insurance.
Businesses can also be covered by commercial flood insurance. The maximum amount from NFIP is $500,000 in property damage, and an equal amount for contents.

A Required Waiting Period

When you buy flood insurance, you cannot get coverage for storms already on the way. Although you can buy it at any time, there is a 30-day waiting period before your insurance takes effect.
  • Remember: Flood coverage and coverage from storm surge are not the same things.
Every time there is a hurricane or named storm, there is going to be a storm surge. A storm surge can bring an enormous amount of water into your area and home. If you are in one of these areas, you may need, according to the National Real Estate Insurance Group, to get separate coverage for it if your homeowner's insurance policy does not cover it because it is different than flood insurance.

Other Ways to Cover Losses

The Insurance Information Institute mentions other options to recover losses if you are not insured. After a flood, the government will often provide some relief through interest-free or low interest loans.

The problem with this is that you must pay it back. Of course, when you take out such a loan to repair or rebuild, you are footing the entire bill. With flood insurance, when your home and contents are damaged, you only need to pay the deductible—and any amount above the maximum.

The Epoch Times Copyright © 2022 The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors. They are meant for general informational purposes only and should not be construed or interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation. The Epoch Times does not provide investment, tax, legal, financial planning, estate planning, or any other personal finance advice. The Epoch Times holds no liability for the accuracy or timeliness of the information provided.
Mike Valles has been a freelance writer for many years and focuses on personal finance articles. He writes articles and blog posts for companies and lenders of all sizes and seeks to provide quality information that is up-to-date and easy to understand.