If your home or business has been damaged by water you first have to determine whether the damage is considered flood damage or water damage. Flood damage and water damage sound identical, but in fact, they are not, at least from the viewpoint of your insurance company.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides guidance in this area, by defining the term flood:
“A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from:
- The overflow of inland or tidal waters;
- The unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source;
- Mudslides (i.e., mudflows), which are “proximately caused by flooding and are akin to a river of liquid and flowing mud on the surfaces of normally dry land areas, as when earth is carried by a current of water and deposited along the path of the current.”
As the definition implies, it is the source of water that determines whether the damage is considered flood damage or water damage.
Another way to distinguish between flood damage and water damage is to ask yourself this question: Are my neighbors also suffering from damage caused by water? If the answer is “yes,” then you’re likely experiencing flood damage.
About Flood Damage Insurance Claims
The distinction between flood damage and water damage is important because it determines what type of claim you can file. Flood damage is not covered in a typical homeowner’s insurance policy. Only homeowners with flood insurance through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can file flood damage insurance claims.
The Flood Claim Process
If you have purchased flood insurance through NFIP, you can file a flood damage claim.
Your first step is to immediately contact your insurance company to report your losses. Most policies require prompt written notice of your loss. Be sure to ask about an advance payment to help you get started in your recovery.
Next, as soon as it is safe to enter, prepare for your insurance inspection by documenting, via video or pen and paper, all damage to your structure and belongings, even for items that you plan to discard. Finally, you’ll work with your adjuster to prepare and submit your claim.
How We Can Help After a Flood
The claim process for flood damage can be complicated. It is important to work with a public insurance adjuster experienced in flood damage claims. Your insurance company will try to settle your claim as cheaply as possible, but your Professional flood damage Public Insurance Adjuster will help you recover everything you’re entitled to.
Get Started with Your Flood Damage Claim
The Claims Company can help you review your insurance policy to determine the extent of your coverage, represent you in the insurance investigation, bring in an independent investigator if necessary, assist you in an accurate valuation of your damaged property, and challenge the insurance company if they try to undervalue your property. If you need our help, contact us online.