When disaster strikes, the first few things you think of are your family’s safety and how in the world am I going to repair my home. Once the first worry is out of the way, the second one can be consuming for the coming months. Insurance companies are notoriously tricky to work with, so knowing your rights and responsibilities is a major part of making the process easier. Floods are one of those events that aren’t always included in homeowner’s insurance policies. In most cases, you have to have a policy specific to covering flood damage. If your home is prone to flooding or you live in an area where floods aren’t rare, you have hopefully considered this ahead of time. If you do have flood coverage, you’re going to want to file a claim as soon as possible after the event. As you begin re-building your home, your stress can be put to rest once the finances are taken care of.
Due diligence in paperwork
You want to minimize the reasons the insurance company can find to delay payment. Before filing your claim, go over your policy and make sure that you’re covered. You also need to make sure that all the information on your policy is up to date as well as the information from your mortgage company.
Call your insurer
Claims can take days to weeks to be filed, so it’s important you start the dialogue immediately. Be sure to ask for an estimated timeframe in order to get an idea as to when an agent will be coming by your home in order to assess the damage.
While you’re waiting for an agent to come and assess the damage, begin doing it yourself. Work through your belongings to separate the damaged goods from the undamaged goods. This will put all of your damaged belongings in one central area, making it easier for the agent to visualize what you’re working with. Don’t throw out any damaged products before the insurance adjuster has seen them. Make sure to take photographs of the damaged objects and structural damage. If you have any pictures of the area before the flood occurred, that can also help adjusters decide how much damaged had taken place.
Hire a public adjuster
If you feel that the adjuster that the insurance company sent underestimated the value of the damage assessed, you can hire a public adjuster to re-evaluate your home. This adjuster does not work for the insurance company and is therefore working to maximize your payout.
Start talking with contractors
If all is looking like it’s going to work out well, you can start talking to contractors for an estimate on how much it will cost to repair the damages. It’s risky to commit to paying for permanent repairs before the claim has been processed, but you can work with the contractor to make your house livable for the time being.
Keep on top of the payment
Once your claim has been approved, you will receive one or a few checks in order to pay for the damages caused by the flood. Your account is deemed payable once you and your insurer agree on the damage as well as how much it’s going to cost to replace and repair them, you’ve submitted an accurate and completed proof of loss form, and all supporting documentation has been properly submitted with your claim.
You have the option to appeal the claim after it’s been paid out, but if it’s covered the costs and your house is as good as new, there’s no need to take it that far. What’s normally a tough and stressful process can be made much simpler with some due diligence. Hopefully, anyone who has to go through this process only has to do it once, but if that’s not the case, the more you work with adjusters and agents, the more you learn.