Floods can cause catastrophic losses to individual homes and even entire communities, depending on the source. Floods come in a variety of shapes, sizes and causes, but even the most minor of floods can be very costly and challenging to overcome.
While Michigan doesn’t face the same flood threats as other states such as Florida from hurricanes, there are other weather-related events that could cause a flood in the state. In addition, floods can be caused by non-weather-related events such as pipes bursting within the home.
No matter how the flood occurred, it’s important that if you need to file a flood insurance claim, you follow the steps we’ve outlined below to get your claim processed quickly so you can start on the road to recovery.
Contact Your Insurance Company
After you’ve exited the home and made sure you’re in a safe place, the first step is to contact your flood insurance company. The National Flood Insurance Program has underwritten roughly 90% of U.S. flood insurance policies. It’s possible, though, that you got flood insurance from a private insurer.
Either way, contact the company that has underwritten your policy. It’s important to do this as soon as possible so that you can get the recovery process started, as every minute counts with floods. Your insurance company will assign an adjuster to your case, and that person will contact you within a day or so.
If you don’t have a separate flood insurance policy, contact the company that provides your homeowners policy to see if it would cover the damages you have suffered.
Mitigate the Damages
The language in most homeowners insurance policies and flood insurance policies states that you have to try to mitigate the damages to your home. Essentially, this requires you to do everything you can to minimize the losses you sustain as a result of the flood.
To this end, you must try to stop the water in your home. If the flood is being caused by a leaky pipe, you can do this by turning off the main water source in your home. If it’s caused from a weather-related event such as a river overflowing, it obviously won’t be possible for you to stop it.
Inside your home, you can also save your personal property by moving items off the floor and lower parts of the home to countertops or a second floor, if possible.
If you are unable to enter the home safely, do not do it under any circumstances. Your insurance adjuster will take this into account if you aren’t able to mitigate the damages further.
Document the Losses
If you’re able to enter the home safely, you should start to document your losses as you await for the adjuster to inspect your home. Make a list of everything that has been damaged and needs to be replaced.
Take photos and videos of the individual items that were damaged — including make, model and serial numbers of appliances, for instance — as well as the overall home. It’s important that you document all of this to the best of your ability before you start removing or throwing anything away.
Once you’ve documented the losses, you should start discarding any items that could pose a risk to health. This includes any furniture or upholstered items and food.
Work with the Adjuster
When the insurance company’s adjuster arrives at your property, they will explain the claims process to you before they conduct a full inspection of the property. They will take their own notes and photographs, but it’s important that you keep your own copies even after they do this. It will be important for you to have this information in case the insurance company doesn’t include anything in the final claim decision.
The adjuster will not just be looking for what items inside the home are damaged but what the cause of the flood was. In some cases, this is quite obvious, but other times, it’s not so clear. The cause of the flood could come into play as to whether you receive coverage or not, depending on what your policy states.
Ultimately, your insurance company will make the final decision on the claim and not the adjuster, though the adjuster’s assessment will play a big part in that decision.
You should also ask your adjuster if it’s possible to get an advance payment of your claim. If it’s available, you could use this advance payout to start recovering from the damage.
This could include any major structural work your home needs or mold and mildew mitigation and prevention. Again, it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to prevent the development and spread of mold and mildew, as it likely won’t be covered under flood insurance plans if the homeowner doesn’t act quickly.
Receive the Decision
The only thing left to do is await the insurance company’s claim decision. When that is made, you will likely receive notification via an initial phone call, where an agent will describe the decision and the payout amount. They’ll then follow this up with a written decision via regular mail and email, if you’ve given them permission to do so.
If you agree with the decision, you can simply get your money and start to contact contractors and others to help you fix the damage to your home, while taking what’s left to replace individual personal items that were damaged.
If you disagree with the decision, you’ll need to follow the outlined appeal process that’s set by the NFIP or your private insurance company
Work with a Trusted Flood Insurance Provider
No matter the cause or size, floods can cause extensive damage to homes and be very challenging, and costly, to recover from. Following the steps outlined above will help you prepare for the flood insurance claims process and put yourself in the best position to get your claim finalized quickly.
It’s always important to work with an insurance company that you can trust for your flood insurance. At Signature Insurance, we have been covering Michigan homeowners like you for years now, providing expert advice and support regarding insurance decisions.
Contact us today to find out more and for a free quote.
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