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Tips for Navigating Catastrophic Flooding and Your Insurance Claims

Over the past few days, we have witnessed a harrowing ordeal in the Northeastern United States. As relentless heavy rains have unleashed catastrophic flooding, the devastating weather conditions have wreaked havoc on communities across the region. Many families throughout these states are still dealing with destructive flood waters overtaking their homes and vehicles, and the next few days will tell the whole story of the total damage. 

Intense flooding can leave substantial damage in its wake, impacting homes, businesses, and lives. As a property owner dealing with the aftermath of devastating flooding, it is crucial to understand the necessary steps to navigate the insurance claim process successfully. This article will provide invaluable tips from public adjusters specializing in flood damage claims. From dealing with power failures to addressing roof damage and flooding, be prepared to tackle your insurance claim head-on.

How to Act Following Extensive Flooding 

1. Assess the Flood Damage Immediately

The first crucial step after experiencing catastrophic flooding is to assess the damage as soon as it is safe to do so. Document the extent of the damage with photographs or videos, noting any specific areas of concern, such as power failure leading to sump pump failures, roof damage, and severe flooding. 

Even though your mind is likely being pulled in a million different directions, it’s important to remember this first step. The best way to ensure that you receive a fair and full settlement is to compile proper photographic documentation of your situation. If the damage worsens over the next few days, continue to document the progress for your insurance provider and adjuster. 

2. Contact Your Insurance Company

Notify your insurance company promptly to initiate the claims process. Be prepared to provide them with detailed information about the extent of the flood damage, including documented evidence, if possible. Keep a record of all conversations, including the name and contact information of the representative you spoke with, as this will be of great importance to your adjuster.  

If there are any issues with your insurance claim or the insurance company attempts to deny your claim, thoroughly documenting your conversations is an invaluable asset to your case. While it’s essential to stay optimistic about your claim, if the worst-case scenario of a claim denial does happen, at the very least, you are armed with this vital information that your insurance adjuster can use to fight for your case. 

3. Consult a Public Adjuster

Consider seeking guidance from a licensed public adjuster specializing in flood damage claims. These professionals can work on your behalf to assess the damage accurately, compile comprehensive estimates, and negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement. Their expertise can significantly streamline the claims process and ensure that you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to.

4. Document All Repairs and Expenses

Keep a thorough record of all repairs, temporary fixes, and expenses incurred after the flooding. This documentation will serve as supporting evidence for your insurance claim. Remember to retain all receipts, invoices, and communication related to the repairs.

As rainfall and flood waters have surpassed record levels, it’s guaranteed that the necessary repairs will be extensive. This is why keeping accurate records of every service you have done to your property is so important. It’s especially important if your insurance provider isn’t paying for the repairs upfront, which is the case for many families. You want to be sure that you’ll be reimbursed for these repairs, so keep everything and take lots of pictures and videos. 

5. Understand Your Insurance Policy

These devastating floods have been completely unexpected, which is true for any natural disaster. When the worst happens, it normally comes unannounced. The best way to be prepared as a property owner is to be well-versed in your specific insurance policy stipulations. Keep copies and records of your policy and past claims; this information can be highly useful in the event that you contact an insurance adjuster. 

Familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of your insurance policy, specifically regarding flood damage and flooding-related claims. Pay attention to deadlines for reporting the claim and any specific requirements outlined in your policy. Consult your public adjuster or an insurance professional if you have any questions or need clarification.

6. Cooperate with the Insurance Adjuster

Once you file your claim, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to inspect and evaluate the flood damage. Cooperate fully with the adjuster while providing accurate information and documentation to support your claim. Remain present during the inspection and record the adjuster’s findings.

7. Don’t Settle for Less

Insurance companies may attempt to settle your claim for less than what you deserve. This is where a public adjuster’s expertise comes into play. They will work diligently to ensure the insurance company recognizes all aspects of your damage and negotiates a fair settlement on your behalf.

How to Prepare for Flooding

1. Purchase flood insurance

Homeowners should ensure they have appropriate flood insurance coverage. This can help with the financial costs of repairing or rebuilding the property in case of flood damage. Standard homeowner’s insurance typically does not include flood coverage, so a separate flood insurance policy is necessary.

2. Store valuables at higher levels 

If floodwaters are expected, move valuable possessions, important documents, and electronics to higher floors or elevated areas to protect them from damage. This is especially important for sentimental items that are irreplaceable. You should find an elevated spot where the flood waters are unlikely ever to reach. Better yet, you could consider purchasing waterproof lock boxes for your priceless items that will keep them safe in the event of a flood. 

3. Have an emergency plan 

Develop an emergency plan that includes evacuation routes, a communication strategy, and a checklist of essential items to carry during a flooding event. Stay informed about local alerts and warnings through weather apps, news outlets, or government notifications. Making sure that you and your family members are on the same page and know how to act in the event of a flood is absolutely crucial. 

Staying Safe During a Flood

1. Elevate critical utilities

Elevate electrical panels, switches, sockets, wiring, HVAC systems, and other critical utilities above flood level. This helps to minimize damage to these components and reduces the risk of electrical and fire hazards. You should also turn off these electronics and household outlets at the breaker box. Many people who survive an initial flood are still at great risk before the waters subside simply because of the dangers of exposed wires and submerged electronics. 

2. Install flood barriers and waterproofing 

Consider installing flood barriers, such as flood walls or flood gates, around the property perimeter to prevent water from entering the premises. Additionally, apply waterproof coatings or sealants to basement walls and floors to minimize water penetration.

3. Create proper drainage

Regularly clean gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage away from the house. Install and maintain the channel, French, or other appropriate drainage systems to direct water away from the property.

4. Beware of Power Failure (Sump Pumps) and Roof Damage:

Catastrophic flooding can often result from power failures, rendering sump pumps ineffective and exacerbating the damage caused. Additionally, roof damage can allow rainwater to enter your property, compounding the flooding. When filing your claim, ensure you stress these significant factors, as they can significantly impact your entitlement to compensation.

Recovery is Possible After a Flood

Dealing with catastrophic flooding and the subsequent flood damage claim can overwhelm homeowners. By following these tips and enlisting the expertise of a public adjuster, you can better navigate the complex insurance claim process while maximizing your settlement. Remember to document the damage, consult a professional promptly, emphasize power failure and roof damage, mitigate further destruction, and grasp the specifics of your insurance policy. With these strategies, homeowners can confidently seek fair compensation for their losses during catastrophic flooding.

As the flood waters recede over the next few days, recovery and rebuilding will be on everyone’s mind. Entire areas of communities are currently underwater, and it will take time to get back to normal. At United Public Adjusters, our mission is to help uplift these communities and make the recovery process easier. It’s our responsibility to use our knowledge and experience with situations like these to help families get back on their feet sooner.


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