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Essential Steps for Basement or Foundation Insurance Claims

Basement or foundation damage can be hazardous to your family's health and finances. Here are the critical steps to take when filing homeowner's insurance claims.

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When you’re faced with basement flooding or foundation damage, it’s no fun at all. It would be great if all of the mess could be resolved with a simple phone call. You can be certain there will be a phone call followed by many more. 

Here are the critical steps to take, first to protect your family and property, and second to do all you can to ensure you’ve identified all the damage.

First Things First: Emergency Needs

There are real dangers from basement flooding or foundation damage not only to your property but to your family. Here are a few critical factors to take into account as you start the recovery process.

  • Electrical Hazards. Flooding means your electrical outlets and equipment could be underwater. Turn off the main circuit breaker and call an electrician. Do not enter the floodwaters.
  • Natural Gas Leaks. Flooding can result in displaced and broken pipes, including natural gas pipes. If you smell gas, leave the area immediately and call the gas company.
  • Structural Failures. Flooding damage could mean the foundation has shifted or even collapsed. Don’t enter your home until you’re certain it is structurally sound.
  • Sewage Backup. During a flood, the drainpipes can back up, bringing raw sewage into your home. Don’t wade into the floodwaters. Call a plumber for assistance.

Insurance Claims: Critical Steps

Here are the critical steps in filing an insurance claim for basement flooding or foundation damage.

  • Document the Damage. Write down everything that comes to mind. What happened? When did the damage occur? What exactly is damaged? Take photos of the damage to go with your extensive notes.
  • Review Your Damage Assessment. Go back over the documentation, ideally with someone else looking over your shoulder. Make sure you capture all the damage. It’s difficult or at least troublesome to revise an insurance claim once it’s filed.
  • Contact Your Insurer. Do this as soon as possible. Find your homeowner’s insurance policy number to help the agent determine your coverage. Describe what happened and the extent of the damage. They should also be able to fill you in on what is covered under the terms of your policy.
  • File a Claim. This can typically be done online or via a smartphone app. Most policies cover dwelling and personal property damage separately. That usually requires filing separate claims. You may also need to gather receipts for your personal property to establish the amount of loss.
  • Work with the Adjuster. The insurance company will assign an adjuster to visit your property, review the damage, and file a report. Your cooperation and participation will be essential to help their work.

Once that’s been completed successfully, the insurer will determine the payout for the claims, less the policy deductible. 

Insurance Coverage: Basement Flooding and Foundation Damage

Homeowner’s insurance policies typically cover flooding damage caused by internal sources. That includes burst pipes, a leaking water heater, and overflow from a sink, bathtub, broken washing machine, or dishwasher. 

Flooding or foundation damage caused by external sources such as heavy rain, storms, sinkholes, or mudslides are not usually covered. Instead, you’ll need supplemental insurance coverage or flood insurance.

Flood Insurance Coverage

You can buy separate policies, or in some cases, add supplemental insurance coverage to your homeowner’s policy for flooding. You can also use the FEMA Flood Map Service Center to map your property to determine flooding risks. This can help you access the National Flood Insurance Program. 

As just a couple of data points, 95,900 home and property owners in Virginia along with 15,700 in Maryland have made claims through the FEMA flood insurance program since 2000. 

As further motivation, FEMA estimates that just one inch of water in a 2,500-square-foot one-story home can cause $23,635 in damage, along with $3,172 in damage to personal property.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

We certainly hope you’re reading this article to prepare for foundation problems rather than responding to flooding. To support your prevention efforts, we’ve created a Flood Prevention Checklist.

While you’re considering options for preventing basement flooding or foundation damage, it’s always a good idea to get advice from the professionals at JES Foundation Repair. 

Contact us for a free inspection and repair estimate to identify any issues with your foundation, basement, or crawl space that need attention in preparation for heavy rains and flooding.

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