It’s a fact that standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood. And Hurricane Harvey along with the more recent Hurricane Irma, only confirmed the importance of having a flood insurance to cover the costs of repairing homes after the storm.
Homeowners and Flood Insurance
Homeowners insurance and flood insurance complement each other. Your mortgage lender may or may not require you to buy a flood insurance policy but it can be taken out even when your home is not in a known high-risk area for floods.
A flood insurance can cover the structure or building and its contents. Building coverage and contents coverage are sold separately but they can be combined. However, each coverage has a separate deductible.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers the National Flood Insurance Program, floods caused $8.2 billion in damages every year per 2015 data.
In the case of Hurricane Harvey, Fox reports that not all homes in its path (Texas coastline) have flood insurance that would help in rebuilding homes damaged by severe rain and flooding.
Brock Turner, chief of FEMA, was quoted by TIME.com that it will be around in the recovery efforts of those flooded areas for years.
After the Flood: How to File for Claims
If you have an existing flood insurance policy, you can carry out the following actions to put your home and life back in order after the flood, as outlined by FEMA.
1. Promptly report your loss to the insurance company. You are required to send a timely, written Proof of Loss to your insurance agent or representative. This will support your claim for loss.
2. Separate damaged from undamaged property. Per your insurance policy, you’ll have to separate items that have been damaged by the flood and what’s not. The loss adjuster will look into these items. Make sure you’ve taken photos before disposing of anything.
3. List damaged contents. If you bought a contents coverage, list down the items that have been damaged. It would be wise to prepare a comprehensive list of contents beforehand so it would be easier to track the contents.
List each item’s quantity, description, brand name, cost, place of purchase, model and serial number, and the corresponding estimated loss amount. Support your estimates with photos, bills, receipts and other pertinent documents.
4. List areas with structural damage. Note the areas in your home with structural damage. You can point them out to the loss adjuster.
Your adjuster will generally get back to you within 24 to 48 hours or longer depending on the severity of conditions in the area.
The adjuster will then inspect your property and do a scoping, which entails taking pictures and measurements of the damage. He/she may pay additional visits depending on the extent of the damage.
With information gathered from the visit/s and the documentation you provided, the adjuster will prepare a detailed estimate of the damages. You can then use this when you solicit bids for repair work.
You can receive payment of your claim once you and your insurer agreement on the amount and you have filed the necessary Proof of Loss and supporting documentation.
If what you have is a standard homeowners insurance, you can still file for claims where applicable.
You can ask for replacement cost for items that have been damaged by the rains or floods. Or, you can get the actual cash value in order to replace what was lost or destroyed.
Again, back up your claim with adequate and proper documentation so it can be paid out by the insurer.