When your home floods, regardless of where the water came from, it is easy to go into full-on panic mode. Questions are likely running through your head. Will insurance cover this? Where’s the safest place in the house? What do I do right now? It is important to remain calm and have a plan of action should something like this happen.
In today’s blog, we’ll be offering some tips on what to do during and after water invades your home. Keep reading to learn more about what steps to take when it comes to home flooding, how to contact your insurance company, and when to call a Texas insurance claim lawyer like those at Alex R. Hernandez Jr., Business Law.
Take Safety Seriously
Remaining safe in a flooded home isn’t just about knowing how to swim. There are other potential dangers such as infection, mold and mildew, and electricity.
First, if there is water actively coming into your home, move to higher ground. If the basement is flooding, you may be able to remain on the ground floor. If you need to move to the attic, bring flashlights, bottled water if you have it, and non-contaminated food with you, as well as an ax in case the roof is your only way out. It is a good idea to keep an emergency kit stocked with these kinds of items.
We know that electricity and water do not mix. Standing water can retain an electrical charge, even if there is no power to the area. The second you notice any kind of flooding in your home, immediately head to your fuse box if you can safely reach it and cut the power. If you must enter the water, wear tall rubber boots or waders to mitigate the risk of electrical shock. It is also a good idea to shut off your gas and water lines as well until you can get control of the situation.
Do not let children or those prone to illness in or near the flood water. If a pipe burst in your basement, the water is likely safe. But if it has flown in due to heavy rains or flash floods, it can contain sewage, trash, wildlife, bacteria, and other things you don’t want to come into contact with. Be sure to keep the floodwater or contaminated materials off of your face, hands, and any open cuts.
In the case of hurricane-level flooding like we’ve seen in the past, it is recommended to boil water or drink from pre-packaged water bottles, as it is possible for contaminants to get into the main water line.
When the immediate threat has ended, take pictures of water and damage before making any repairs or attempting to remove water. This will be important when it comes to filing an insurance claim. The more pictures you can take of flood water, damaged possessions, drywall, and other things that the water came in contact with, the better.
Call Your Insurance Agent And Find An Insurance Lawyer
Regardless of the size or severity of the flood, it is important to notify your insurance agent. Depending on where the water has come from, the damages may or may not be covered by your regular homeowners insurance. Each policy is different, but the general rule is that if the water has not touched the ground (e.g. a pipe burst or rain leaked through your roof) it will be covered by your homeowners insurance, and if it has touched the ground (e.g. a river overflowed), it will not be covered by homeowners insurance.
If your home is severely flooded, now is a good time to look for a water damage lawyer who can negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf. Insurance companies are notoriously stingy about settling flood damage claims, often outright denying a claim even when the claim is within policy limits.
Check with your insurance provider before removing any water or taking any immediate action, such as ripping up floors. Doing so can decrease the amount of coverage they may allow you to claim and they may want to send an adjuster out before you touch anything. Write down a detailed description of the conversation you had with your insurance agency.
Remove Water And Start Drying
After you get the go-ahead from your insurance provider to begin cleaning up, do so as soon as possible to minimize damage. You can rent a sump pump and wet vac from most hardware stores, as well as industrial fans. Open up the windows if it will not cause more water to come in and pump out as much water as you can. You can also hire a professional company to do this for you.
As you begin to salvage items, create a list of anything that is damaged or unsalvageable with the approximate purchase price of said items as well as when you bought them. Doing this can also help ensure you a fair water damage claim. Move wet couches and other furniture outside to dry fully. To mitigate mold and mildew, you will likely need to remove flooring, padding, and drywall.
- If your home is uninhabitable, find a different place to stay. Speak with your insurance company to see what provisions they cover if you are forced out of your home.
- Take steps to prevent further damage. Board up windows, secure tarps on the roof, and take pictures of all of these so your insurance company can see that you took steps to prevent additional damage.
- If you cannot complete tasks yourself, hire professional help and be sure to keep receipts and invoices of any work you have done.
Wait For The Insurance Payment
While waiting for your insurance claim to process, it is wise to only make repairs that your provider okays. This will increase the likelihood of getting reimbursement for any repairs you make in the interim between when you file a claim and when it is approved or denied. If your insurance company offers a settlement that seems low or flat out denies your claim when your policy states you have the correct coverage, contact your insurance claim lawyer immediately. A water damage attorney can look at your unique situation and help you fight back against an insurance provider who is not holding up their end of the deal.
Get In Touch With A Water Damage Attorney Today
The team here at Alex R. Hernandez Jr., Business Law is here to assist you with whatever you need. We have experienced water damage lawyers who can assist you when your insurance company is denying, delaying, or mishandling a claim. Get in touch today to start discussing your insurance claim and potential case!