The Homeowner’s Guide to Water Damage Insurance Claims
Basement flooding is a tough problem to deal with in any circumstance. As North Carolina’s leader in basement waterproofing, we’ve helped many homeowners repair their homes and get things back to normal.
But through that process, we’ve had plenty of questions about what type of basement water damage is covered by insurance. How does one even go about filing a claim for this kind of damage?
We’ve developed a list of steps you can take if you decide to file a claim. After reading this guide, you’ll know the best steps to take when it comes to filing an insurance claim for your flooded basement.
Safety Comes First
Flooding in your basement can be dangerous to your health and safety. Not to mention, it also causes structural damage to the home’s foundation. Before filing any insurance claims, be sure to take these steps as soon as possible. Doing so will help ensure the safety of you and your loved ones.
- Turn off the electricity: If floodwater reaches a certain height, it could make contact with electrical outlets, wiring, and home appliances in the basement. This is an enormous shock hazard. Turn off the corresponding circuits in your home’s main circuit breaker to avoid damage. If the circuit breaker is in the basement, leave it alone and call an electrician. They’ll help you with the next steps.
- Watch out for natural gas leaks: Flooding in your basement can cause structural damage that breaks nearby gas pipes. If you smell gas (usually a sulfur-like smell), leave your home immediately and call your 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 might also break when your basement floods. 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.
- Be aware of structural failures: Flooding may cause the basement walls to shift, crack, or even collapse. When this type of structural failure occurs, you’re at risk no matter where you are in the house. The best action is to leave the home and keep clear until it has been restored to a structurally sound state.
Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Basement Flooding?
Once you and your loved ones are safe, you need to determine whether or not the flooding or foundation damage is actually covered by your insurance.
The good news is that many homeowner’s insurance plans can help cover basement flooding damage, but it all depends on the source of the flooding. Water damage claims that are most commonly approved by insurance providers involve:
- Leaking water heaters
- Broken or burst pipes
- Sudden appliance malfunction
These issues are generally included in the average homeowner’s insurance policy. Of course, there are other ways your basement can become flooded. What about those issues?
Will Insurance Cover Damage Caused by Groundwater?
Groundwater refers to a naturally occurring source of water which may increase or decrease depending on rain and snow patterns. Most home insurance policies won’t cover flooding caused by groundwater unless you pay for additional flood insurance.
If you live in an area prone to flooding by natural causes, it’s a good idea to add flood insurance to your policy. That way, you can be protected if a large storm rolls through and causes groundwater levels to increase.
Why Should You Add Flood Insurance?
If you’re wondering if flood insurance is worth it, especially homeowner’s in our home state (North Carolina) here’s a couple of data points to consider:
- In 2020, First Street Foundation (a non-profit organization located in Brooklyn, NY) conducted a national flood risk assessment. Their findings estimated that 538,900 properties in North Carolina were at substantial risk of flooding. That number only continues to grow.
- FEMA estimates that just one inch of floodwater can cause up to $25,000 of damage in a home.
Being in an area that is prone to flooding means you’re always at risk of damage. Even if it doesn’t happen for years, it’s better to be prepared. It’s worth adding flood insurance to simply save money.
Basement Water Insurance Claims: Step-by-Step
Here are the critical steps in filing an insurance claim for basement flooding or foundation damage.
- 1. 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.
- 2. 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.
- 3. 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.
- 4. 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.
- 5. 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.
- 6. 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. If you want to save this information for yourself, you can download a digital PDF file containing all of our information below.
Prevent Basement Flooding With Tar Heel
It’s never a bad idea to call your insurance provider for more information regarding your coverage. The more you have covered, the better.
Keep in mind, even if you have insurance, it doesn’t hurt to invest in solutions designed to prevent basement flooding in the first place. We’ve created a flood prevention checklist if you’re interested in learning more.
When you’re considering options for preventing basement flooding , it’s a good idea to get advice from the professionals. We install industry leading solutions to help you prevent water from flooding your basement. For a free inspection and repair estimate, contact Tar Heel Basement Systems today!
If you want to prevent your basement from flooding after a rainstorm, you need to install effective solutions like interior drainage, a sump pump system, wall vapor barrier, and a dehumidifier. Keep in mind, these tools should never be installed with DIY methods. Work with a professional if you want to stop basement flooding effectively.
No, it isn’t. Just because basement flooding is a common issue doesn’t mean it is normal.
There are plenty of ways for water to get into your basement, and it’s a popular misconception that having water in the basement is just a normal part of owning one. Don’t buy into this myth—flooding in your basement (and really any kind of moisture) should always be taken seriously.
If there is only an inch or two of water in your basement, it can likely be handled by a licensed plumber. If the flooding is more significant, you’ll want to call a water damage restoration service to help deal with any issues. Also, having properly installed basement drains will help any flooded water drain out of your basement more quickly.
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