Basement flooding along with foundation damage can be very stressful just in dealing with cleanup and repair. Then there’s filing insurance claims.
Here’s our insight into all the steps required for filing claims.
It’s easy to peer down the basement steps and see water, from one inch to five or more, and think you’ve got to get down there and start cleaning things up. Before you do, please make sure you take into account all the life-or-death safety issues.
- Turn off the electricity. The water you see could very likely cover electrical wiring, outlets, and extension cords lying on the floor. That creates a recipe for electrocution. Turn off the main circuit breaker. If that’s in your basement, call an electrician.
- Watch for natural gas leaks. Shifting foundation walls caused by flooding can also break any pipes entering those walls. That means natural gas lines could be leaking and creating an explosion hazard. If you smell gas, leave the area at once and call the gas company.
- Stay clear of sewage backup. The sewage drain pipe is also at risk of leaks. In addition, floodwater could cause a backup into your basement or crawl space. Any contaminated water is dangerous. Don’t walk into the water. Call a plumber.
- Beware of potential structural failure. Moving foundation walls can cause structural failure. That puts the entire house and anyone in it at risk. If you have any hint of instability, leave your home until it has been declared structurally sound.
As you can tell, there are several immediate dangers from basement flooding. Your safety and that of your family should be your first concern.
Step-by-Step Insurance Claims
Here are the key steps to file an insurance claim for basement flooding or foundation damage.
- Document the damage. After all the safety issues have been addressed, start writing your notes on exactly what happened and when. Use photos to support your notes and to visually capture the damage.
- Contact your insurer. Review the details of your policy with your insurer. They can tell you what’s covered and what isn’t. If you have flood insurance, contact that insurer as well for insight into coverage.
- Double-check your damage notes. Double-checking your notes is a good idea. You’re too close to catch anything that’s missing. Have someone else compare them to the damage and make needed adjustments. They may also spot something you’ve missed.
- File your insurance claim. This may be the most straightforward step since most insurers have online systems and smartphone apps to facilitate entering your claim. This is where all the time spent on your notes and photos pays off. You may need to file two claims, one for dwelling damage and another for personal property damage.
- Work with the insurance adjuster. Offer your full cooperation with the assigned insurance adjuster. Provide access to your home and direct them to the damaged areas. Make sure you closely review their final report to verify they’ve documented everything.
- Determination of payout. When all that information has been reviewed and processed by your insurer, they will issue a payment minus the 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
Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover water damage from internal sources. That includes leaking water heaters, dishwashers, and washing machines. It also includes overflow from a sink, bath, or toilet as well as burst pipes.
Flooding caused by severe weather is not usually covered. That includes heavy rain, mudslides, sinkholes, or even underground water seepage. To cover these hazards, you’ll need flood insurance.
Supplemental flood coverage may be available from your insurance agent. Check with them to start the process. You can also access FEMA’s National Flood Insurance program. They can provide all the information you need to select the right policy for you and your home.
To add perspective on flooding in our area, the First National Flood Risk Assessment estimated that Tennessee has 383,200 properties at risk of substantial flooding. Alabama has 334,900, Georgia has 347,700, and Mississippi has 244,700.
Flooding damage can be pretty staggering. To give you an idea, FEMA offers a cost of flooding calculator. Selecting a 2,500-square-foot one-story home and just one inch of water, the damage estimate is $26,807. Ramp that up to five inches, and the expected damage reaches $45,339.
For more insight, see our articles Top Cities that Flood in Tennessee and Top Cities in Alabama at Serious Risk of Flooding.
Basement Flooding Prevention
As you can tell, purchasing the needed insurance can help save a great deal of money. So can taking the steps necessary to prevent basement flooding in the first place.
When you consider options for preventing basement flooding or foundation damage, contact the professionals at AFS Foundation and Waterproofing Specialists for a free inspection and repair estimate.