Having the basement of your residential or commercial property flood can be a true nightmare. Soggy, molded carpets, loss of any files or documents stored, and toasted electronics are all typical results of one of the most common claims filed by property owners with their insurance companies. The causes of this type of calamity are legion, including burst pipes, a faulty sump pump or broken appliances. While the lion’s share of the normal causes for basement flooding are covered by most home insurance policies, it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the process first, before tragedy strikes. Doing so can cut down on the amount of aggravation felt, and even help head off problems with the claim.
Know Your Policy
Whether your basement looks like a swamp or you are just planning for the future, the first step is to know what your policy covers and which scenarios you are on your own with. This also applies to the types of things the policy will reimburse for, as not all damaged items are treated equally with all policies. This can go a long way towards making the decision on whether or not to leave pricey items lying around a space that is prone to water intake.
Many policies also include a caveat about what your responsibilities are if flood damage should occur, usually titled “Duties After a Loss.” Failure to execute even one of these provisions can result in the delay, or outright denial, of a claim.
Knowledge of how much you have to pay before your insurance takes over, called the deductible, is also a good fact to have in your head well before disaster strikes. The last thing you want is to find yourself mired in a quagmire, only to discover that thousands of dollars of the repairs needed will have to come out of your wallet.
If you find yourself in the middle of a flooding situation, make sure to call your insurance company with as little delay as possible. Firstly, your policy may have limits as to how long you can actually file a claim, usually a few days to a week. Additionally, if the flooding is as a result of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or an overflowing water body, your insurance company might be able to get you emergency assistance. All in all, making the call as quickly as possible is the safest way to proceed without impediment.
Contact through written mail is also advised over simply an email or phone call. When sending the notice, get a return receipt from the post office. In case it gets lost in the mail, you will have proof it was sent in time.
While the claims adjuster from the insurance company will document everything once your scheduled visit arrives, it is always smart to do a thorough once over yourself. Walk your basement in it’s entirety, making written note of what you know to be damaged. If you have pictures from before the flooding, keep those at hand for visual proof of what things looked like before and after. Anything of value, no matter how insignificant, should be documented just to be on the safe side, most efficiently with a photograph. However, be sure not to throw anything away before the insurance rep has a chance to take a look at it.
If the damage was done due to a burst pipe, or other plumbing-related issue, you will need to find out how much it will take to fix. Contact a local contractor and ask them to come out and put together a free estimate for repairs to whatever broke, in writing, on company letterhead. When insurance is footing the actual repair costs, the estimate is usually provided free.
Take the estimate to the adjuster for approval. This has to be done before any repairs are started, as the insurance company may require verification with the contractor. Repairs started before the approval is given run the risk of being delayed or denied. While the contractor is making the estimate, be sure to ask about residential waterproofing steps you can take to minimize future incidents.
What You Can Do
After the adjuster has been out and everything is documented properly, simple and temporary fixes made by you, before professional work is done, can go a long way in more ways than one. Mold is one of the most common side effects of water damage and also extremely dangerous and toxic if left unchecked. A thorough cleaning before the pros come out to do their job can head off any costly bills down the line.
Proactive work like this can also help things lean in your direction when it comes to the insurance company’s decision on whether or not to honor your claim. Showing the adjuster that you are willing to do what is necessary to prevent further damage will likely cement them firmly in the approved category.
While a flooded basement is never a walk in the park, steps taken before, during and after the damage occurs can go a long way towards reducing the annoyance to a manageable level. Proper documentation, prompt contact and a willingness to do your part can turn a vision of terror into a minor nuisance.
Waterproof Your Home for Best Results!
If you have any additional questions on insurance claims or how our residential waterproofing services can help to protect your home, please call or contact Dirt Connections online for more information.