The damage caused by flooding can be devastating. Even when it’s not as severe as some of the tragedies we see on the news, flooding can damage a home structurally and aesthetically, as well as ruining furnishings and personal possessions. What can you do to minimize the risk associated with flooding? Here are the three most important things all homeowners should know about flood damage:
- Some Flooding Is Easily Avoidable
There are some causes of flooding, such as hurricanes, that you have no control over. But flooding caused by winter storms or snowmelt can be avoided with a few indoor and outdoor updates. First of all, ensure that you have a sufficient gutter system with downspouts that empty into well-drained areas. You can also improve drainage by checking the grading on your property; you want your house to sit on high ground so that rain and melting snow run away from the house, rather than your house sitting in a bowl (which is just asking for flood damage). You can also have your basement professionally sealed for a comparatively modest sum.
- Flooding May Not Be Covered by Insurance
While your homeowners insurance covers some weather-related damage (such as hail or wind), it’s likely that it doesn’t cover flood damage, fire damage or earthquake damage. You’ll need to investigate separate insurance policies for these hazards. In some areas where the risk of flooding is high, the law — or your mortgage agreement — may require you to get flood insurance. But since flooding can be caused by internal problems such as burst pipes, as well as weather, all homeowners should at least consider flood insurance.
- You Don’t Have to Accept Insurance Offers
Just because you have a policy covering flood damage doesn’t mean your insurance company will pay your claim without resistance. The good news is that you don’t have to accept your insurance company’s first offer. If you think your damage is more extensive than what will be covered by the offer, then you may need to engage public adjuster services. If you’re not exactly sure what this means, you’re not alone: The first question most public adjusters are asked is “what is a public adjuster?” Essentially, a public adjuster is a professional who works for you, rather than the insurance company, to independently value claims. This can help you dispute your insurance company’s findings and get an offer that will cover all your expenses.
What questions do you have about flood damage or filing flood insurance claims? Join the discussion in the comments.