The occurrence of a flood can be brought on by a falling water incident, home water system malfunction or ground water. The safety measures you take in the first 24 hours for your home and your family will ensure optimum results with your insurance provider.
Some floods can cause major damages that may force the homeowner to leave their home. If so, cautionary steps to take before you return to your home are key. Be aware of any structural damages like warping, unbalanced foundation structure and any visible cracks and or holes. If there appears to be any damage in close proximity to water, gas, sewer or electric lines do not hesitate to contact your utility company immediately.
Also, it’s imperative to have a flashlight handy and be sure to turn off all water and electrical sources throughout the residence. It does not matter if the power is not operational, it’s always best to turn off all electrical fuses within your fuse box. This includes main and individuals. This way you can ensure your safety if power is turn on simultaneously.
Do not extract any water or try to make any repairs until after you have photographed all damages. Having digital documentation is the best way to store and easily share with your insurance company. This will increase your potential coverage.
Protect your health
Although the flood water in your home may appear to be clear, it could still be contaminated other chemicals throughout your home and or sewage leakage. To move throughout your residence during a flood please wear hip or waist-high water proof boots along with protective gloves. This will help you avoid any direct contact with contaminants. Do not save any food that may have been exposed to flood waters.
Notify your Insurance Company
You should call your insurance company as soon as possible after the flood; keeping your insurer and local agent’s contacts in your ready emergency bag. In some cases where a flood has affected an entire region or community, your agent may be busy handling his or her own flood issues. If that is the case, be sure to contact the insurance company’s headquarters.
Commonly groundwater flood damage isn’t covered by conventional homeowner’s insurance policies; so you’ll need to work with your insurer to determine the exact cause of the flood and the full extent of your coverage.
Inform your insurance agent of the condition of your home and any repairs you intend to make immediately. Be sure to follow any advice your insurer may have about whether or not to wait for an adjuster to inspect the property before making repairs. Record the damage and conversations at every stage of this process.
What can you expect in the period of time to get back to normal? It could be as little as one week if the claim and reconstruction is minimal; and up to five to six months if you’re working with an insurance adjustor and contractor to complete extensive repairs.
Find out if you’re in a disaster area
Once a region has been officially declared a “disaster area” by the government, property owners have access to more resources, including public services to protect and remediate the area. Also, you may have access to some financial assistance. Your insurance company will have additional information on this or you can call FEMA directly.
Once you get the OK from your insurer to remove the water, use a sump pump, available from most hardware or home supply stores for $150 to $500, and a wet vacuum ($40 to $130). Be careful not to injure yourself, especially if you’re carrying buckets of water up and down stairs. Open all doors and windows to allow fresh air to circulate so long as that will allow in more water.
Mitigate mold damage
Mold can develop quickly in the first 24 to 48 hours of a flood. So remove all wet contents such as carpeting and bedding, as soon as possible. If there is an item that has been wet for less than 48 hours, it may be salvageable. These items usually will hold sentimental value to you. Also, be sure to notify your insurance company before removing or treating any items to ensure that you’re not affecting possible coverage. Photograph all the flood-soaked items.
Easier items like rugs, may be dried and then cleaned professionally, which could cost $100 to $500 or more, depending on the size and number. Large pieces of furniture that are saturated will be more difficult to dry efficiently and should often be thrown out.
You can control mold growth on surfaces by cleaning with a non-ammonia detergent or pine oil cleaner and disinfecting with a 10% bleach solution. Test this solution on a small area of the item or area you’re cleaning to be sure it doesn’t cause staining or fading.
While taking photographs be sure to get pictures of the entire flooded room before removing wet wallboards and baseboards because insurers will want to see the height of any water damage to walls. Carefully poke holes at floor level in the drywall to allow water trapped behind it to escape.
You may also wish to hire a flood restoration service—you can find pros under “Flood” or “Disaster recovery” in your local phone book, or check with the Better Business Bureau, local Chamber of Commerce, or contractor recommendation sites.
Secure the property
As the homeowner, it’s your responsibility to secure the property so that no additional damage occurs. Put boards over broken windows and secure a tarp as protection if the roof has been damaged. Again, take photographs to prove to the insurance company that you have done everything possible to protect your home against further damage.
If the home is livable, take precautions to keep yourself and your family safe from injury. Use flashlights to move around dark rooms. If the home is inhabitable, don’t try to stay there. Move to a shelter or alternate location. Communicate with your insurer to find out what amount if any the company will take on for temporary housing while your home is being repaired.