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?
Start Your Filing ProcedureAs 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.
Document the DamageBefore 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.
- 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 FloodAfter 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.
Meet With Your Insurance AdjusterOnce 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.
Get Your PaymentYou will receive your payment after the above stage.
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.
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.
- Window air conditioners and portable ones;
- Food freezers and the food in them—but not refrigerators; and
- Washers and dryers.
4. Limits of coveragePolicies 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.
A Required Waiting PeriodWhen 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.
Other Ways to Cover LossesThe 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.