Your House Flooded, Now What?

I hate that I know so much about this but I have endured a lot of repercussions thanks to Mother Nature. When I was living at home we lived through a hurricane that did substantial damage to the house, and once I moved out a flash freeze caused our hot water pipe to burst, flooding our ground floor apartment.

Needless to say I have experience in the ”dwelling flooding” department! Though I hope you never have to go through anything like this, if you do be prepared.

big flood

Image via http://www.flickr.com/photos/seattlemunicipalarchives/

Take pictures

I can’t stress how important it is to get pictures of EVERYTHING once you assess damages before you call your insurance (you have homeowners or tenants insurance, right?). My mom’s first instinct was to call insurance and when they came to assess everything they moved a bunch of stuff before my mom had a chance to see it and determine how damaged it was. Because of this, she ended up not being able to replace some things. During our apartment flood, certain things were not damaged at the time of the flood, or bed for example, but the clean-up crew ended up destroying it.

Continue to take pictures throughout cleanup. In our case, though our bed was fine, the crew used it to hold their stuff and as a landing pad for stuff that was getting thrown out. Soggy, wet, silt-filled stuff. So though the insurance adjuster originally didn’t cover a new bed, once I showed the before pictures (flooded floors, bed was fine) and after pictures (during cleanup, mattress getting damaged) he reviewed our claim and made room for a new bed. If we didn’t have pictures I can’t say for sure it would have happened.

Call insurance and be present for site inspection

Before anything else, find out what you’re covered for. Find out all details such as deductibles and start making financial plans to pay this (hopefully covered by your emergency fund). Depending on where you keep your emergency fund, it may take a few days to transfer to your bank, plan for this.

Also check out details of things like hotel stays and meals if needed. During our apartment claim we were entitled to a hotel and something like $50 per day for meals. We didn’t end up needing to use this claim since we stayed with family but was nice to know we wouldn’t be homeless and had options.

When the insurance company sends out and adjuster, make sure you and anyone living in the dwelling is present to confirm damages. Make sure you make a list before they get there so you don’t miss anything, it can be overwhelming. Having a general idea of replacement costs as well will speed the process up.

Having detailed pictures will also help your memory. Make sure you’re able to give a detailed explanation about what happened as well. Note any defects that may affect the claim (in my mother’s case a sump-pump that always gave her trouble and ultimately failed during the hurricane).

While going through the damages nothing is too big or small to claim. If it was damaged no matter how small or insignificant, claim it!

Living through a flood is not fun. It’s messy and can take a long time to resolve. My experience in dealing with insurance companies has always been pleasant. I don’t know if it was a fluke but they were genuinely helpful and made the cleanup and restoration process painless. The more prepared you are, the easier the entire process will be.

Have you ever made an insurance claim? How did it go?

18 thoughts on “Your House Flooded, Now What?

  1. I’ve been fortunate that mother nature hasn’t delivered a big shake (earthquake that is) since I’ve been living as an adult on my own. We have insurance, but also a large deductible in the case of an earthquake. I didn’t realize that some insurance companies offer hotel and meal allowances. I’ll have to check into our policy. That could potentially be very helpful if we were ever displaced due to structural damage (which is always possible with an earthquake.)

  2. We are not in danger of the house flooding, but we have a very high water table so we are at risk of our basement flooding. I have a sump and a backup sump, but if they somehow both failed during a storm, we would likely experience high water in our basement. I have seen enough neighbors go through this in the six years we’ve lived here to know that it is higher risk. I do have insurance for basement flooding, but it would still be a major pain to have to go through.

  3. I broke a lease in an apartment building because pipes were bursting in their ceilings. Three apartments would get flooded out every time, starting from the top unit on down. Really bad. I talked to a firefighter who responded one day and he said a dog came swimming out of a ground floor apartment after they opened the door. Yikes! Renter’s insurance, for sure.

  4. I have to admit I’ve never had to claim on any home insurance policy yet. We don’t live in a flood prone area and I truly hope to never get an experience like that. However, you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow so it was still a great read, thanks for the advice.

  5. I haven’t had to make an insurance claim (yet). I wish we had had insurance during our apartment building fire though – it would have allowed us to replace more items and stay at a nicer hotel than what our property management company gave us.

  6. The tip on taking pictures is an important one. Having before/after pictures might be a good idea – which means thinking ahead.

    Growing up, our basement flooded. It was many years ago, but I remember the hassle my parents went through in dealing with insurance. It all worked out just fine (aside from the nuisance of the actual problem), but I’m thinking that it was due to my parents being very prepared and diligent about the whole thing.

  7. One important thing is also to have all your important documents available.
    For that having scanned all invoices, insurances, official document and storing them in a cloud service (dropbox, google drive,…) is very helpful.
    Another thing is your photos or anything you store on your computers. It doesn’t cost much to buy a big external hard drive, backup everything and store it at a friend or family. (it protect you not only about natural disaster, but also human error, kids destruction :)) memories are priceless !

  8. Caleb says:

    Taking pictures is a very important part of the process. It can help in the insurance claims and assist the inspector in assessing your property and damages. Great tips, thanks you for sharing.

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