Basement flooding or foundation damage can be enormously stressful on you and your family, not to mention potential property damage. We’ve been there and done that too many times to count.
To help out, we’ve compiled a list of essential steps to protect your family and do all you can to ensure you file a comprehensive insurance claim.
A flooded basement is dangerous. Here are the immediate steps to take to keep you and your family safe.
- Turn off the electricity. With high water in your basement, electrical outlets and appliances could be underwater. This poses an enormous shock hazard. If you have access, turn off the main circuit breaker at once. If it’s in the basement, just leave it alone. Call an electrician and work with them on the next steps.
- Watch for natural gas leaks. Significant flooding can displace and break natural gas pipes. Leave the area at once if you smell any gas. Call the gas company and they can get things shut down and make it safe for your return.
- Stay clear of sewage backup. Just as natural gas pipes can break, so can sewage drainpipes. Not only that, but drainpipes can also back up due to the floodwaters preventing their normal flow. Given this, don’t wade into the basement floodwaters. Call a plumber for assistance.
- Beware of potential structural failures. If the flooding isn’t bad enough, there’s also the potential for structural failure of the foundation walls due to shifting, cracking, or collapse. That means you’re in danger even on higher floors. The wise course is to keep clear until you’re assured the foundation is structurally sound.
Insurance Claims: Step by Step
Here are the critical steps in filing an insurance claim for basement flooding or foundation damage.
- Contact your insurer. Do this as soon as possible. Your homeowner’s insurance policy number can help your agent determine the coverage. Tell them what happened and the extent of the damage. They will advise you on what is covered under your policy. Ask about a possible advance payment to help with cleanup.
- Document the damage. Write down everything that comes to mind. What exactly happened? When did it occur? What is damaged? Once your home is safe to enter, take photos of the damage to go with your extensive notes. Photos of appliances and electronic equipment make, model, and serial numbers can help support your claim.
- Review your damage documentation. Go back over your notes and the damage. Do this with someone else looking over your shoulder. Make sure you capture all the damage. It can be difficult or at least bothersome to revise an insurance claim once it’s filed.
- File your insurance claim. This can typically be done online or even with a smartphone app. Most homeowner’s policies cover dwelling and personal property damage separately. That usually requires filing separate claims. Gather receipts for your personal property to help establish the amount of your loss.
- Work with the insurance adjuster. Your cooperation with the assigned adjuster will be helpful in making sure every bit of damage is identified and claimed. Given that, make sure you tour your property with the adjuster during their scheduled visit. When they file their report, go over it closely to ensure they’ve correctly documented everything.
When that’s been completed successfully, the insurer will determine the payout for the claims, less the policy deductible and any advance payment. FEMA also has a helpful guide at How to File a Flood Insurance Claim.
Insurance Coverage: Basement Flooding and Foundation Damage
Typically, homeowner’s insurance policies cover damage from internal sources of flooding. That usually happens due to burst pipes, water heater leaks, sink or bath overflow, along with a broken dishwasher or washing machine.
Damage caused by heavy rain, storms, landslides, or sinkholes is not usually covered. For that type of damage, you’ll need supplemental coverage or flood insurance.
Some insurance companies offer supplemental coverage for flooding for your homeowner’s policy. You can also access FEMA’s National Flood Insurance program. They offer the FEMA Flood Map Service Center that allows you to map your property to determine flooding risks.
As just a couple of data points, the First National Flood Risk Assessment estimated that 131,300 properties in Colorado are at substantial risk of flooding. In addition, the FEMA flood insurance program has seen 49,700 claims since 2000. The majority of claims came from Arapahoe, Boulder, Jefferson, Larimer, and Weld counties.
If you need further motivation to investigate flood insurance coverage, FEMA estimates that just one inch of water in a 2,500-square-foot one-story home can cause $23,635 in damage to the average home, along with $3,172 in damage to personal property.
Basement Flooding Prevention
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 Complete Basement Systems. Whether you’re in Colorado Springs, Denver, or anywhere in eastern Colorado, contact us for a free inspection and repair estimate.