Basement flooding is typically caused by a foundation problem from cracks in the basement walls to faulty drainage from around the foundation to a failed sump pump. Either way, your next step after cleanup is to file an insurance claim.
We have things covered when preparing to avoid basement flooding or in repairing the foundation after flooding. This article provides insight into filing an insurance claim should flooding occur.
Before reviewing insurance claim details, it’s critically important that you deal with all the safety issues before you do anything else.
- Turn off the electricity. Don’t walk into floodwater in your basement without first turning off the electricity. Floodwater can easily come into contact with extension cords on the basement floor, electrical outlets, and appliances. Turn off the main circuit breaker. If that’s in the basement, call an electrician.
- Watch for natural gas leaks. Any shifting of the foundation due to flooding can impact the natural gas pipe where it enters your home. Any cracks or breaks release natural gas, posing an immediate explosion hazard. If you smell gas, leave the area at once and call the gas company.
- Stay clear of sewage backup. Another potential pipe problem is the sewage drainpipe. It could break or develop a leak. It could also backup due to flooding and soil saturation. Don’t enter the contaminated water. Call a plumber.
- Beware of potential structural failure. Any shifting or bulging of foundation walls could also become a potential structural failure. That could cause injury or death no matter where you are in the house. Keep clear until your home has been determined to be structurally sound.
This list is a “who’s who” of necessary contacts, but it also highlights the very real immediate danger from basement flooding.
Step-by-Step Insurance Claims
Here are the key steps to file an insurance claim for basement flooding or foundation damage.
- Document the damage. Our memories are typically fleeting. While the flooding damage may remain, it’s best to take careful notes of what happened along with writing down the details on the damage. Take photos to help with your documentation.
- Contact your insurer. Get in touch with your insurer. They can go over the details of your policy and advise you on what’s covered and what isn’t covered. See our discussion below about separate flood insurance.
- Double-check your damage notes. Check and double-check needs to be your approach to making sure you’ve captured all the damage. Ideally, have someone else look over your notes comparing them to the damage. They can help add clarity to your notes and perhaps find things you missed.
- File your insurance claim. Use your insurer’s online claims system or smartphone app, depending on their preferences. Most typical homeowner’s policies cover dwelling damage separately from personal property damage. That means you’ll need to file two claims to cover all the damage.
- Work with the insurance adjuster. Typically, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your claim. Offer them your full cooperation in providing access to your home and in discussing the damage. Review their final report to make sure they’ve covered everything.
- Determination of payout. Once all that information is processed by your insurer, they will issue a payment for the claim. This will be minus the policy deductible.
For further information, FEMA has a helpful guide on How to File a Flood Insurance Claim.
Insurance Coverage: Basement Flooding and Foundation Damage
Homeowner’s insurance policies usually cover water damage from sources within your home. That includes burst pipes, overflow from sinks or baths, as well as a leaking water heater, dishwasher, or washing machine.
Not typically covered is damage to basements or foundations caused by heavy rain, storms, mudslides, sinkholes, or underground water seepage. To cover these hazards, you’ll need separate flood insurance.
Check with your insurance agent to see if supplemental flood coverage is available. You can also access FEMA’s National Flood Insurance program. They offer the FEMA Flood Map Service Center where you can map your property to determine flooding risks.
To add some perspective on flooding in our state, the First National Flood Risk Assessment estimated that 483,000 properties in Ohio are at substantial risk of flooding. In addition, the FEMA flood insurance program has seen 143,000 claims in our state since 2000.
To give you some perspective on the damages that come with flooding, FEMA has provided a cost of flooding calculator. Selecting a 1,000-square-foot one-story home and just one inch of water, the damage estimate is $10,819.
Basement Flooding Prevention
As always, it’s best to prevent flooding in the first place. To help your prevention efforts we’ve developed a Flood Damage Prevention Checklist.
When you’re considering options for preventing basement flooding or foundation damage, it’s a good idea to get advice from professionals. For a free inspection, contact Ohio Basement Systems.