Making an Insurance Claim after a Basement Flood

Delivery Line Break next to Private Well 2
source: Flickr: Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection

Flooding can be a costly, annoying experience that can leave your home in a mess and take days to clean up. Your basement can become flooded for a variety of reasons including a broken pipe, an overflowing washing machine, a sewer back-up, heavy rains, or natural disasters. Depending on the cause and the type of coverage you have you may be eligible for reimbursement by your insurance company.

Contact Your Insurance Company

In the event of a flood the first thing to do is to contact your insurance company and set up a time for a claims adjuster to visit. Be sure to do this promptly, as there are time limits as to how long you can file a claim after the event of the damage.

Take Inventory

Next, fill out a claim describing the cause of the flood and what damage occurred. Be sure to survey your entire basement and make a list of all the damage, including appliances, furniture and other items of value. Write down a description of the item and its value, and if possible, the brand and model as well. In addition, be sure to photograph the damage, but don’t throw anything away until after the insurance adjuster has seen it.

Get Estimates

If the cause of the flood was a broken pipe, you’ll want to contact a licensed plumber to give you an estimate on the cost of repairing or replacing the pipe. The adjuster may want to contact the contractor as well to make sure they are in agreement concerning the cost of the repair.

Clean Up

Aside for the dirt and grime left over, mold can also be a serious problem, and prolonged exposure to it can be hazardous to your health. Make sure to remove any mold as soon as possible, but take caution and wear protective gloves and cover your mouth and nose while doing so. If this is too difficult or you are too busy with other tasks, hire a professional cleaning service.

Tips

Natural disasters are not always covered by standard policies. If you live in a city like Virginia Beach that was hit hard by hurricane Irene in the summer of 2011, you may not be covered under homeowners insurance for damage incurred by the hurricane. However, there are other types of insurance policies, such as flood insurance, disaster insurance, and more that can cover you. Additionally, while your basement may not be covered, it’s possible that your appliances and other items of value will be.

It’s important to know how much the repair will cost and to compare that to the amount of your deductible. Because insurance companies tend to raise premiums after claims are filed, many professionals recommend not filing a claim unless the cost of repair is three times as much as the deductible.

Preventing floods

Many people install sump pumps that pump out the water in their basement in the event of a flood, keeping their basement relatively dry. However, often in severe storms the power goes out, disabling the sump pump as well. A small generator can ensure that the sump pump will keep running, though it will have to be continuously supplied with gasoline.

Flooding can be a very damaging event. However, with the right precautions and proper insurance, you can make sure this potentially tragic experience is no more than a minor inconvenience.

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