Basement flooding or foundation issues are no fun at all. On top of that, you then have the challenge of working with your insurance company to make sure your claim is dealt with properly.
To help, we’ve provided a step-by-step process for filing an insurance claim. We’ve also developed a list of the steps to take immediately to protect you and your family.
Safety is Always First
Not only is flooding no fun, but it is also downright dangerous. Here are the steps to take immediately to ensure your and your family’s safety.
- Turn off the electricity. Water in your basement can quickly become a shock hazard. If you can get to the main circuit breaker without entering the water, turn off all electricity. Then call an electrician.
- Watch for natural gas leaks. Flooding can directly impact natural gas pipes, particularly as they enter your foundation. If you smell gas, leave the area at once and call the gas company.
- Stay clear of sewage backup. Flooding can cause sewage pipes to back up, moving waste into your basement. Don’t enter the water. Call a plumber.
- Beware of potential structural failure. Flooding can do serious damage to your foundation including structural damage that could lead to collapse. The best action is to keep clear of the home until it has been declared structurally sound.
Step-by-Step Insurance Claims
Here are the critical steps in filing an insurance claim for basement flooding or foundation damage.
- Document the damage. Write down what happened and when. Then capture the damage in both notes and photos. Details such as make and model numbers on appliances and electronic equipment can help support your claim.
- Contact your insurer. Get in touch with your insurance agent or go directly to the insurance company. They can tell you what’s covered under the terms of your policy.
- Double-check your damage documentation. Have someone review your notes and photos and compare them to the damage. They can help spot something you may have missed and point out any needed clarifications.
- File your insurance claim. This can usually happen online or via a smartphone app. Note that homeowner’s policies typically cover dwelling and personal property damage separately. That will require two claims.
- Work with the insurance adjuster. Your cooperation with the assigned adjuster will be very helpful in making sure all damage is recorded. When they file their report, go over it closely to ensure that they’ve correctly documented everything.
- Determination of payout. When all that input has been processed, the insurance company will determine the payout, less the policy deductible.
For more information, FEMA also has a helpful guide on How to File a Flood Insurance Claim.
Insurance Coverage: Basement Flooding and Foundation Damage
Homeowner’s insurance policies cover flooding damage due to burst pipes, water heater leaks, sink or bath overflow, and broken dishwashers or washing machines. They don’t typically cover basement flooding or foundation damage caused by heavy rains, storms, mudslides, sinkholes, or underground water seepage.
A few insurance companies offer supplemental flooding coverage. Check with your agent to see if this is available for your policy. You can also access FEMA’s National Flood Insurance program. They offer the FEMA Flood Map Service Center where you can map your property to determine flooding risks.
As just a couple of data points, the First National Flood Risk Assessment estimated that 271,500 properties in South Carolina are at substantial risk of flooding. In addition, the FEMA flood insurance program has seen 294,100 claims in our state since 2000.
If you need further motivation to investigate flood insurance coverage, FEMA estimates that just one inch of water in a 2,500-square-foot one-story home can cause $23,635 in damage to the home along with $3,172 in damage to personal property.
Basement Flooding Prevention
We certainly hope you’re reading this article to prepare for foundation problems rather than responding to flooding. To support your prevention efforts, we’ve created a Flood Prevention Checklist.
When you’re considering options for preventing basement flooding or foundation damage, it’s a good idea to get advice from the professionals. For a free inspection and repair estimate, contact Mount Valley Foundation Services.