If you live near water in the Tampa Bay area you likely know about flood insurance, but filing a claim requires a lot of knowledge and advance planning.
First, know what your policy covers. State Farm Agent Pat Parker says, “Your flood insurance is going to cover rising water from an outside source and wind driven water, storm surge and that sort of thing is generally covered under a flood policy.”
The National Flood Insurance Program offers insurance to homeowners, renters and businesses. The program is administered by FEMA. Rates are set, but depend on many factors, including the location of your home and its age.
Building coverage includes:
• The insured building and its foundation
• The electrical and plumbing system
• Central air conditioning equipment, furnaces, and water heaters
• Refrigerators, cooking stoves, and built-in appliances such as dishwashers
• Permanently installed carpeting over unfinished flooring
Most of your belongings are also covered, including clothing, furniture and electronic equipment, portable and window air conditions, microwaves, dishwaters, washing machines and dryers.
After the flood, you’ll want to file a claim as quickly as possible. This is where advance planning is important. When you call your insurance company, you’ll need this information:
• Your policy number
• Phone number or email address where you can be reached.
• Take photos of water in the house and damaged property. The insurance adjuster will need evidence of the damage. If you’re throwing out carpeting, for example, save a swatch.
• Make a list of damaged items and include the age and value if possible. The adjuster may ask for receipts if you have them.
Damage caused by moisture, mildew or mold that could have been avoided by the owner is NOT covered by flood insurance. That’s why it’s important to take action quickly to remove wet carpeting, furniture, bedding and curtains. Take them outside to dry, if possible. Mold can develop within 24 – 48 hours.
If you rent your home or apartment, don’t assume your landlord’s insurance will cover the loss of your belongings. Talk to an agent about renters insurance and what coverage you may need. In many cases, it costs about $200 or less.
Flood insurance will not cover your car, but a comprehensive auto insurance policy will. Check with your auto insurance agent to understand exactly what your policy covers.
Progressive Auto Insurance offers these tips to help you assess flood damage:
• Check your oil indicator. An oil level that’s too high may indicate water in the engine. Do not start or run your car – it could cause severe damage.
• Measure the depth of the water that submerged your car. It is possible water did not enter any parts that are susceptible to damage.
• Determine how long your car was submerged. The shorter the time, the more salvageable any damaged parts may be.
• Fresh water causes less damage to your car than salt water.
• Warmer temperatures may speed up corrosion, especially if your car was flooded with salt water.