Even a tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane entering your home can be destructive and expensive. If you’ve been affected by a natural disaster, follow these tips.
Start the claims process as soon as it’s safe to do so
- Call your insurance agent or broker to initiate a flood claim.
- If you have completed a home inventory and it is accessible, have it ready.
- Keep records of your interactions with authorities, such as the date of the flood and the date you were allowed to return home. If you can’t return to your home to begin cleanup because authorities have restricted reentry, document it. Insurance companies may penalize your claim if you procrastinate cleanup efforts.
- Document the damage before you begin cleanup. Take timestamped photos and videos of things like:
- Flood lines outside and inside your home and other structures (like sheds or garages)
- Damaged belongings
- The makes, models and serial numbers of all appliances and electronics
- Save physical samples of damaged materials to show your insurance adjuster (carpets, curtains, flooring, etc.)
- Ask to see your flood insurance adjuster’s Flood Control Number card and official identification. Scammers target catastrophe victims.
- Provide as much supporting evidence as possible to your insurance adjuster. The insurance company authorizes the adjuster to assess the damage you claimed. The more evidence you have of your losses, the stronger your claim.
- Ask your adjuster for contact information (email, direct phone, name or web portal) where you can submit supporting documentation and check in on your policy status.
Beware of hazards when you return home
- Return home only when the authorities say it is safe and free from structural, chemical and electrical hazards.
- Avoid puddles and wet areas if power lines are downed outside your home. The water might be electrically charged.
- Stay alert when entering your property. Animals and snakes might be swept into or around your house by floodwaters.
- Wear heavy gloves and boots during cleanup.
- Do not energize or touch electrical equipment if it is wet or surrounded by standing water.
- Be cautious of carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use generators or other gasoline-powered machinery outdoors and far away from structures.
- Follow all safety labels on cleaning products. Do not mix chemicals, especially bleach and ammonia. Mixing these will cause toxic fumes and serious illness.
- Consult a professional about cleaning your home’s HVAC ducts. Verify that the chemicals they use are nontoxic.
The Environmental Protection Agency offers more detailed flood cleanup tips on its Resources for Flood Cleanup and Indoor Air Quality page.
Find out if your area has been declared a disaster area
If the president declares your event a disaster, you may qualify for government “disaster assistance.” This assistance offers additional support with housing, child care, funeral expenses, medical and dental care, personal property replacement, crisis counseling and disaster-related unemployment.
Don’t delay filing for disaster assistance. Apply early and stay apprised of your claim status.
More helpful resources
Several government agencies can help after a flood or another disaster.
FEMA mobile products
Locating open shelters and resources; receiving weather alerts, emergency safety tips and real-time notifications; and connecting with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for assistance
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Disaster Distress Helpline
Crisis counseling related to weather disasters or mass violence incidents (Call or text 800-985-5990 for free, 24/7 counseling assistance.)
FEMA and NFIP
Starting a flood insurance claim if you’re a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholder and applying for disaster assistance if you’re inside a declared disaster zone
FEMA: Get Assistance After a Disaster
Finding financial and other support services
Determining whether your area is declared a disaster zone
Need more help?
As always please know that you can reach out to our team at Flatlands Jessup for help during what can be an emotional and vulnerable time. Our team has a passion for service and a love of the community making us a great ally to have in your corner during times of need.
Insurance is designed to help you through the most difficult times of your life, and Flatlands Jessup will do it with a smile. Call today for more information – 252-495-8956
This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.