I hate that I know so much about this but I have endured a lot of repercussions thanks to Mother Nature. When I was living at home we lived through a hurricane that did substantial damage to the house, and once I moved out a flash freeze caused our hot water pipe to burst, flooding our ground floor apartment.
Needless to say I have experience in the ”dwelling flooding” department! Though I hope you never have to go through anything like this, if you do be prepared.
I can’t stress how important it is to get pictures of EVERYTHING once you assess damages before you call your insurance (you have homeowners or tenants insurance, right?). My mom’s first instinct was to call insurance and when they came to assess everything they moved a bunch of stuff before my mom had a chance to see it and determine how damaged it was. Because of this, she ended up not being able to replace some things. During our apartment flood, certain things were not damaged at the time of the flood, or bed for example, but the clean-up crew ended up destroying it.
Continue to take pictures throughout cleanup. In our case, though our bed was fine, the crew used it to hold their stuff and as a landing pad for stuff that was getting thrown out. Soggy, wet, silt-filled stuff. So though the insurance adjuster originally didn’t cover a new bed, once I showed the before pictures (flooded floors, bed was fine) and after pictures (during cleanup, mattress getting damaged) he reviewed our claim and made room for a new bed. If we didn’t have pictures I can’t say for sure it would have happened.
Call insurance and be present for site inspection
Before anything else, find out what you’re covered for. Find out all details such as deductibles and start making financial plans to pay this (hopefully covered by your emergency fund). Depending on where you keep your emergency fund, it may take a few days to transfer to your bank, plan for this.
Also check out details of things like hotel stays and meals if needed. During our apartment claim we were entitled to a hotel and something like $50 per day for meals. We didn’t end up needing to use this claim since we stayed with family but was nice to know we wouldn’t be homeless and had options.
When the insurance company sends out and adjuster, make sure you and anyone living in the dwelling is present to confirm damages. Make sure you make a list before they get there so you don’t miss anything, it can be overwhelming. Having a general idea of replacement costs as well will speed the process up.
Having detailed pictures will also help your memory. Make sure you’re able to give a detailed explanation about what happened as well. Note any defects that may affect the claim (in my mother’s case a sump-pump that always gave her trouble and ultimately failed during the hurricane).
While going through the damages nothing is too big or small to claim. If it was damaged no matter how small or insignificant, claim it!
Living through a flood is not fun. It’s messy and can take a long time to resolve. My experience in dealing with insurance companies has always been pleasant. I don’t know if it was a fluke but they were genuinely helpful and made the cleanup and restoration process painless. The more prepared you are, the easier the entire process will be.
Have you ever made an insurance claim? How did it go?