After a flood, it can be overwhelming to file an insurance claim. This guide can help you understand the basics of the process and what to expect. Remember that the process may vary depending on your specific circumstances and policy. Always consult with an experienced insurance professional for more information.
File a Claim
Floods are the number one natural disaster in the United States and can wreak havoc on communities, homes, and businesses. For homeowners, a flood insurance policy in New Jersey claim is an opportunity to get back on their feet after the storm.
However, flood insurance claims can be confusing and intimidating. Fortunately, understanding how the process works can help to make it less stressful. The first step is to call your insurance agent or company to report flood damage. You must provide a detailed description of your property and what was lost or damaged. It’s also helpful to take pictures and videos of your property.
After submitting your claim, an adjuster will be assigned to your case and should contact you within a few days. The adjuster will visit your property and inspect the damage in person or remotely. During the inspection, the adjuster will work with you to create an inventory list of all the damaged or lost items in the storm.
The insurance company will then estimate how much money it will cost to replace these items. The list is called a Proof of Loss and must be completed within 60 days of the loss. In addition, ask about getting an advance payment to help with immediate recovery expenses. Remember that any advance payments you receive will be deducted from your final claim settlement.
Document the Damage
Documenting damage caused by floods is one of the most essential steps in the insurance claims process. Thorough documentation can help prevent disputes and ensure you receive fair compensation for your losses. When it’s safe, take many pictures and videos of destroyed items in your home or the property.
This will include interior and exterior damage and any other items that may have been damaged or lost during the flooding. Also, keep receipts and invoices for any items you can salvage or replace. This will be useful when preparing your proof of loss statement for the NFIP.
After a flood, you have up to 60 days to file a Sworn Proof of Loss form listing everything damaged or destroyed due to the event. This is a relatively short time frame, so starting as soon as possible is best. Once you’ve filed your claim, an adjuster will inspect your property to assess the damage and prepare a claim estimate.
During this inspection, the adjuster will likely note any structural or personal property damage and review floodwater levels. Keep records of any items you discard or cannot salvage after the inspection, including the make, model, and serial number of destroyed appliances.
Schedule an Inspection
After filing a claim, the insurance company will send an adjuster to examine your property and assess the damage. During the inspection, the adjuster will scope your loss by taking measurements and photos. It would be best if you were prepared to provide them with a list of damaged items organized by room.
If you have receipts for any belongings, include those as well. The adjuster will then prepare a repair estimate based on current costs for repairing or replacing the destroyed items. If you believe the estimate is inadequate, ask your adjuster to reconsider it and explain why. Also, be sure to mention any flood loss avoidance measures you took.
NFIP policies will reimburse up to $1,000 in reasonable expenses you incurred while protecting your property from the threat of flood damage or moving it away from danger. It’s also worth asking your adjuster about getting an advance payment to help you start recovery and about the increased cost of insurance coverage, which can pay for additional building costs to comply with local floodplain management requirements for properties that have suffered substantial or repeated flooding.
Remember to keep detailed records of everything you do and say during this process, including any conversations with your insurance company or their representatives. This can help ensure your claims are handled efficiently and fairly.
Negotiate a Settlement
Insurers sometimes offer an advance payment of some portion of your owed to help you begin recovery and repairs. If they do, it will be deducted from your final insurance settlement. It’s always best to negotiate your claim with the insurance company. However, if your insurer denies your claims, you can file an appeal with FEMA within 60 days of receiving your insurer’s written denial.
When filing an appeal, keeping detailed records of your communications with your insurance company is critical. Ensure you log every call with the date and time, the name of who you speak to, and a summary of your conversation.
If you can’t resolve your dispute with the insurance company, consider hiring a flood insurance attorney. They can act as your advocate and ensure you get the total amount you’re owed from your flood policy. Look for one who works on a contingency fee basis, meaning they charge a percentage of the claim and agree to advance any case costs you may incur.
Remember, the insurance system is stacked in favor of the insurance companies. Even with the best efforts of the insured, a flood insurance dispute can take months to settle. That’s why it’s essential to be proactive and hire an experienced property damage attorney to help you get the most from your flood claim.