If you’ve experienced basement flooding or foundation damage, you know it’s no fun at all. Then comes the intricacies of filing an insurance claim.
Here’s our insight into filing that claim along with information on flood insurance. We also offer critical first steps to protect your family.
Of course, your first thought during flooding is how to recover and clean up. But before you rush into the basement to start cleaning up, you absolutely must address all the potential safety issues.
- Turn off the electricity. Electricity isn’t restricted to your home wiring, particularly when your basement is flooded. Once floodwater comes in contact with outlets, appliances, and extension cords, it either blows the circuit breakers or waits for you to enter the floodwater. Turn off the main circuit breaker. If that’s in the basement, call an electrician for assistance.
- Watch for natural gas leaks. Shifting basement walls can cause cracks or even break the natural gas pipe. The resultant gas leak is an immediate explosion hazard. If you smell gas, leave the home at once and call the gas company.
- Stay clear of sewage backup. The sewage drain pipe can also break due to shifting foundation walls. Yet another hazard is backing up into your basement due to the flooding. The contaminated water in your basement is a health hazard. Don’t enter the floodwater before calling a plumber for assistance.
- Beware of potential structural failure. Shifting foundation walls due to flooding can also become a potential structural failure. That could cause injury or even death no matter where you are in the house. Given that, it’s important to keep clear until your home has been determined to be structurally sound.
Bottom line: Don’t go into the floodwater until you’ve dealt with all the potential hazards.
Step-by-Step Insurance Claims
Here are the key steps to file an insurance claim for basement flooding or foundation damage.
- Document the damage. As soon as possible, write down what happened and when. Then walk through the damage, adding notes on key items. Take photos to support your observations. Add them to your notes.
- Contact your insurer. Get in touch with your insurer to not only advise them of the damage but to go over the details of your policy. They can provide insight on exactly what’s covered and what isn’t covered. We’ve provided information below on separate flood insurance coverage.
- Double-check your damage notes. Have someone else go over your notes in detail. They should also look over the damage to make sure you’ve captured everything. They may also be able to offer hints that will add clarity to your notes.
- File your insurance claim. Use your insurer’s online claims system, smartphone app, or paper forms to file your claim. Most policies cover building damage separately from personal property losses. That means you’ll need to file two claims to cover all the damage. Receipts for appliances, electronics, and computers can be very helpful.
- Work with the insurance adjuster. Provide the insurance adjuster who is assigned to the claim your full cooperation. Provide them access to your home and fill them in on what happened and the damage that you see. Review their final report to make sure they’ve covered everything. They may actually find things you’ve missed.
- Determination of payout. Your insurer will now pull all that information together, compare it to your policy coverage, and issue payment. This will be minus any policy deductible.
For further information, FEMA has a helpful guide on How to File a Flood Insurance Claim.
Insurance Coverage: Basement Flooding and Foundation Damage
Homeowner’s policies typically cover damage from water sources within your home. That means burst pipes and leaks from a water heater, dishwasher, or washing machine. It also applies to overflow from sinks and baths.
Damage to basements or foundations caused by heavy rain, storms, mudslides, sinkholes, or underground water seepage isn’t covered. Instead, you’ll need separate flood insurance to cover these hazards.
Your insurer may offer supplemental flood coverage. Check with your insurance agent. You can also access FEMA’s National Flood Insurance program. See the FEMA Flood Map Service Center where you can map your property to determine flooding risks and purchase insurance.
To add some perspective on flooding in our state, the First National Flood Risk Assessment estimated that 282,500 properties in Indiana are at substantial risk of flooding. In addition, the FEMA flood insurance program has seen 158,300 claims in our state since 2000.
To give you some perspective on the damages that come with flooding, FEMA has provided a cost of flooding calculator. Selecting a 2,500-square-foot one-story home and only one inch of water, the estimated damage is $26,807.
Basement Flooding Prevention
As always, it’s best to prevent flooding in the first place. To help your prevention efforts we’ve developed a Flood Damage Prevention Checklist.
When you’re considering options for preventing basement flooding or foundation damage, it’s a good idea to get advice from professionals. For a free inspection, contact Indiana Foundation Service.