Frequently Asked Questions by Hurricane Victims
Surviving a hurricane is a harrowing ordeal and dealing with the resulting damage to your home and property can be just as traumatic. One of the most common forms of damage after a hurricane is flooding.
How do I file an insurance claim for flooding?
How you go about filing an insurance claim for flood damage will depend on where you purchased your flood insurance. If your flood insurance is through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, you may simply report your claim to your flood insurance agent.
If you purchased your flood insurance through a non-government agency, you will need to use that company’s contact information and follow their guidelines on how to file a claim on your policy.
Can I file a flood loss claim on my homeowner’s insurance policy?
Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not include coverage for damage caused by floods. However, some homeowner’s insurance policies are able to cover wind damages. If your roof was damaged by hurricane winds, you might be able to make a claim to cover the costs of having it repaired. It is always worth checking with your home insurance agent to find out whether or not wind damage is covered by your homeowner’s policy.
What if my house flooded due to roof damage? Which type of claim do I file?
If your roof was damaged by a hurricane and your house was flooded as a result, you should file a claim on your homeowner’s insurance policy and also file a claim on your flood insurance policy. Each claim will be handled separately and assigned a separate claims adjuster.
My car was damaged by hurricane flooding. Can I file an auto insurance claim?
If you pay for comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy, it is possible that it will pay to repair or replace your vehicle after it has been damaged by a flood. Contact your auto insurance company and follow the necessary steps to file a claim.
What is flood insurance and why do I need it?
A flood insurance policy may be your only hope for help paying for repairs to your home after hurricane flood damage. It may also even pay to replace any of your personal property inside your home, such as furniture, electronics, and clothing, which were damaged by the flooding. It is important for homeowners to understand that most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flood losses.
Will my flood insurance cover any temporary housing costs?
Flood insurance policies do not help you to pay for additional living expenses that you might require after a flood, such as temporary housing. This is in accordance with the guidelines of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Will my homeowner’s insurance cover living expenses while I rebuild my house?
Most homeowner’s insurance policies will pay for your temporary living expenses, including rent, groceries, and more, for up to a year while you are displaced from your home due to hurricane damage. Your policy may cover these expenses up to a certain percentage of your total policy coverage amount. This is often the first payment you will receive from your insurance company, even before it decides how much it will pay to rebuild your home. Some insurance companies will send you a debit card to use for these expenses as they come up. Be sure to keep all your receipts in case you are asked to verify any purchases and consider contacting an attorney who is experienced with hurricane damage claims.
Will my flood insurance cover any costs of debris removal?
Your flood insurance policy may help pay to remove hurricane flooding debris in or on the insured home, according to FEMA guidelines. However, flood insurance will not cover a generalized clean-up of the home’s entire yard or property. Flood insurance policies also will not cover any damage sustained by plants or landscaping, according to guidelines by FEMA.
Will flood insurance cover my spoiled groceries?
The contents coverage portion of a government flood insurance policy may help pay for the replacement of spoiled or soiled food. However, this will only apply if the floodwaters got directly into your refrigerator or freezer to damage the food. Flood insurance will not cover food that was spoiled due to a storm-related power outage.
Can I start making repairs before the claims adjuster visits my property?
You should absolutely not begin reconstruction or repair of your home before the claims adjuster has viewed the damages. The adjuster must actually visually inspect the damaged property in its entirety before she or she is able to write a complete estimate for coverage. After the floodwaters recede, you will likely need to inspect your home again and take measures to prevent any further damage. If you feel that you cannot wait and need to make some emergency repairs in order to mitigate further damage before your claims adjuster visits, be sure to take photos of the storm damage first and keep all receipts for repairs.
My home was damaged by hurricane winds. Will my homeowner’s insurance cover this damage?
Wind damage is covered by most standard homeowner’s insurance policies. However, there are policies that partially or completely exclude windstorm damage from coverage. It is very important, especially if you live in an area regularly affected by hurricanes, to read your home insurance policy and contact your insurance agent to learn the details of whether and how your home’s structure and your belongings would be covered, if damaged by a hurricane’s winds.
If your homeowner’s insurance policy does offer coverage for windstorm damage, it may include a separate hurricane deductible, which is higher than your standard deductible. Also, remember that coverage limits will apply. Be sure that you review the amount of coverage you have in place before you have hurricane damage to worry about and make any necessary adjustments to help make sure your limits are in line with the potential cost of repairing or even completely rebuilding your home after severe storm damage.
What If lose my insurance information to flooding or storm damage? How will I contact my agent?
The state insurance department will nearly always have consumer protection staff set up in disaster-affected areas to answer insurance questions and to help those who are storm victims contact their insurers. Many major insurance companies will also have mobile claims units traveling out in the field to assist displaced people with filing a claim and to answer any of their questions. Contact your state’s emergency management agency to find out more information about where, when, and how to find any available mobile claims units after a disaster has struck your area.
Your state insurance department can not only help you with questions as you start to file your insurance claim; it can also intervene on your behalf if you’re having trouble staying in contact with your claims adjuster or getting your claim paid. During hurricanes and other natural disasters, many insurance companies also set up special mediation programs in order to help resolve any disputes that arise between affected residents and their insurance companies after a severe disaster. For more information, seek out the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ insurance department map to find specific contact information within your state.