flood insurance house

The United States has been hammered with hurricanes and tropic storms, leaving homeowners with cleanup and rebuilding costs reaching into the multi-millions of dollars. And unfortunately, 80% of victims from Hurricane Harvey did not have flood insurance, according to the Consumer Federation of America.

For the 20% that did have flood insurance, the road to repair may not be easy either. Often, insurance claims are challenged by the insurance companies, leading to another crushing blow to already-traumatized homeowners who may think they don’t have options as they scramble to rebuild.

Normal homeowners insurance typically covers only damage from winds, not from flooding. For flood insurance in flood-prone areas called Special Flood Hazard Zones, a separate policy is needed, often acquired by homeowners in these areas with federally-backed mortgages through the federally-run National Flood Insurance Program.

Water damage, acquired through a damaged roof or blown-out window is generally covered. But if the water enters the home from groundwater flooding through floorboards or walls, coverage does not apply. And flooding can occur anywhere, not just in the Special Flood Hazard Zones, but only about 12% of homeowners nationwide have flood insurance.

Tips for Collecting Flood Insurance Payments

  1. Contact your insurance company immediately. Ask when their insurance adjuster will contact you. It could take between a week and six months, and an adjuster visit will need to occur after the water recedes.
  2. Document your loss before and after. Before any problem occurs, document your home and belongings with photographs and video. This will serve as supporting documentation, along with a list of damaged items that includes the purchase date and approximate value and receipts. Document the aftermath of your loss with photographs and video as well.
  3. Keep records of spending. You will need to make some sort of immediate repairs to your home, so keep receipts and records of anything you purchase, as well as those for hotels and meals if you are forced out of your home. Some homeowners policies may include “living expenses” for emergencies.
  4. Don’t throw anything out right away. Insurance company adjusters may need to physically see the damage in order to document your claim. If you are required to dispose of items for municipally-mandated safety reasons, take photographs.
  5. Document all conversations. Keep a log of all conversations, including who you talked with at the insurance company, the date and time, and the issues you discussed.
  6. Ask about text alerts. Many insurance companies will enroll you in text alerts to update you on the status of your claim and payments.

You Have an Advocate on Your Side with Först Consulting

If you think you have a claim dispute with your insurance company, contact Först Consulting Group. We are experienced homeowner advocates and can help you document your claim, support your position, and provide expert testimony and litigation support in the event that your claim needs to go to court.

You don’t have to fight the insurance companies on your own, when you have Först on your side. We work with homeowners in Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and nationwide. Contact us today.