Flooding or foundation damage is tough to deal with in any circumstances. We’ve helped many homeowners through the tremendous effort required for the repair and to get things back to normal.
We’ve developed a list of the steps to take first to protect you and your family. Then we’ve documented a step-by-step process for filing an insurance claim.
Safety is First – Always
Flooding can be extremely dangerous. Take these immediate steps to ensure your safety.
- Turn off the electricity. The higher the water is in the basement, the more likely that electrical outlets, wiring, and even appliances are underwater. That’s an enormous shock hazard. If the main circuit breaker is in the basement, leave it alone. If not, turn off all electricity to your home. Then call an electrician and work with them on next steps to restore power after the flooding is resolved.
- Watch for natural gas leaks. Foundation damage and flooding can break natural gas pipes where they enter your home. If you smell gas, leave your home at once and call the gas company. They can shut off the gas. Only then will it be safe for you to return.
- Stay clear of sewage backup. Sewage drainpipes can also break during flooding. Plus, floodwater can cause the pipes to back up, depositing waste into your flooded basement. Do not wade into the basement floodwater. Call a plumber for assistance.
- Beware of potential structural failures. Flooding can also cause foundation walls to shift, crack, or even collapse. With a foundation structural failure, you’re at risk no matter where you are in the house. The best action is to keep clear of the home until it has been declared structurally sound.
Insurance Claims: Step-by-Step
Here are the critical steps in filing an insurance claim for basement flooding or foundation damage.
- Document the damage. Write down everything that comes to mind. What happened and when are good starting points. Then capture the extent of the damage. Take photos to go with your notes. Details on appliances and electronic equipment make, model, and serial numbers can help support your claim.
- Contact your insurer. Check in with your insurance agent or company. Tell them exactly what happened, describing the extent of the damage. They can tell you what’s covered under the terms of your policy.
- Review your damage documentation. Have someone else look over your shoulder to get a fresh set of eyes reviewing the damage and your notes. Be sure to capture all the damage as it can be difficult to revise an insurance claim once it’s filed. Gather receipts for your personal property to help establish the amount of your loss.
- File your insurance claim. You can usually do this online or via a smartphone app. Since most homeowner’s policies cover dwelling and personal property damage separately, you’ll probably need to file two separate claims.
- Work with the insurance adjuster. The insurance company will next assign an adjuster to review the damage and file a report with the company. Your cooperation will be very helpful in making sure every bit of damage is identified and recorded. They may even be able to point out areas you’ve missed. When they file their report, go over it closely to ensure they’ve correctly documented everything.
- Determination of payout. Once all that is successfully concluded, the insurance company will determine the claim payout. It will be less the policy deductible.
FEMA also has a helpful guide at How to File a Flood Insurance Claim.
Insurance Coverage: Basement Flooding and Foundation Damage
Typically, homeowner’s insurance policies cover damage from internal sources of flooding. That usually happens due to burst pipes, water heater leaks, sink or bath overflow, along with a broken dishwasher or washing machine.
Damage that’s not typically covered includes basement flooding or foundation damage caused by heavy rains, storms, mudslides, sinkholes, or underground water seepage. In addition, damage due to earthquakes, tree roots, foundation settling, or faulty construction are not covered.
Some insurance companies offer supplemental coverage for flooding for your homeowner’s policy. You can also access FEMA’s National Flood Insurance program. They offer the FEMA Flood Map Service Center that allows you to map your property to determine flooding risks.
As just a couple of data points, the First National Flood Risk Assessment estimated that 538,900 properties in North Carolina are at substantial risk of flooding. In addition, the FEMA flood insurance program has seen 545,800 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 on average, 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 the professionals at Tar Heel Basement Systems.