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Flood season is upon us, and here are a couple of important tips that consumers can implement to reduce the impact on their property and resume their lives as much as possible. We'll divide them into preparatory actions, and steps after the flood as it relates to an insurance claim.
Preparing for a Flood
Even if you already have flood insurance, there are things you need to do every year in preparation for a potential flood. We’ve detailed those below along with what to do in the event you’re a victim of a flood.
Update your flood insurance policy: If you already have flood insurance, the first thing you need to do is reevaluate your policy. FEMA flood map zones can change and a new zone might have an effect on a home’s flood insurance rate. Check to see if your zone has changed and if it has, contact your flood insurance provider. You also need to reevaluate the claim limits for your home and personal property. For example, say you remodel a kitchen and have new cabinets, floor and appliances. The cabinets and floor likely increased the value of the home and the new appliances might be over your initial claim limit. In this case, you would need to increase your coverage. While you're at it, an updated list of your personal belongings, their values, and any receipts would go a long way towards getting them protected. If you don’t have flood insurance, you should consider purchasing the coverage to protect your home and personal property especially if you live in a high-risk area.
Install check valves: Check valves are needed to automatically prevent backflow of water through drain systems. Flooding frequently causes backflow which can be damaging to a home. The valves are typically inexpensive. You can get some for less than $10.
Elevate and secure the water heater and furnace: You should elevate and secure the water heater and furnace of your home for two reasons. Elevating each will decrease the likelihood they are damaged by flood water and it will prevent them from potentially floating and damaging the home itself or personal property.
Make sure the basement is structurally sound: To protect your home and personal property, make sure the battery to your sump pump is good, in the event the home loses power. You should also inspect the foundation of your basement for cracks and other weaknesses that might allow water to penetrate it.
Create a flood preparation kit: Some floods occur with little or no warning so everyone needs to have a flood preparation kit ready. Inside should be three days of freshwater and non-perishable food, a seven-day supply of medications, a flashlight, a blanket, a camera to photograph damage, family and emergency contact information, and an extra set of all keys.
Filing a Flood Insurance Claim
Every U.S. state has experienced a flood or flash flood within the last five years and high-risk areas are more likely to experience a flood than a fire, according to the National Flood Insurance Program. Floods happen and if you have flood insurance, here’s what you need to do in the event you are a victim of one.
Contact your insurance agent or flood insurer: The first thing you should do following a flood is to report the loss to your insurance agent or company. Call them to make the report and make sure you have your name, policy number and contact information ready.
Prepare for the adjuster assigned to you: Within a few days of reporting your loss, an adjuster will contact you and set up a time for them to come to your home. In preparation for their evaluation of your loss, take photographs of all the damaged your home and personal belongings have sustained. You also need to separate your damaged and undamaged items for the evaluation. Once separated, compile a list of the items and their value along with as many receipts or proof of the purchases available.
File your insurance claim: After your adjuster evaluates the damage, you will get a copy of the evaluation called a Proof of Loss. The Proof of Loss is used to file your insurance claim, which must be done within 60 days after the loss occurred.
Begin making repairs: Once you’ve submitted your completed Proof of Loss form and you and your insurance agree on the amount of damage sustained you’ll receive your claim.