After having been pounded by torrential rain, many Pensacola and Santa Rosa homeowners are now faced with the damage done by this catastrophic weather event. Fortunately, many people have homeowners insurance and flood insurance to help pay for the damage to their property. However, dealing with the insurance claim process and “picking up the pieces” can be almost as traumatic as the flood itself.
When the storm has passed and/or the flood waters have receded, you should immediately contact your insurance company and place them on notice of your claim. Starting the insurance claim process sooner not only gets you higher “in line” to be visited by the adjuster, but it also helps to accurately calculate your damage and assist you in verifying your available coverages
Also, when you are trying to clean up your property, you may also have to deal with emergency restoration/repair companies. Often, these companies will come to your house soon after the flood and will help with immediate repairs or restoration that may be necessary to protect your home. These companies know that you have an obligation to “mitigate your damages” or to take whatever ever steps you can to prevent additional damage caused to your property and otherwise take action to keep additional damage from occurring. Although these services can often be necessary for the protection of your property, you should remember that these services are very expensive and that you only have a certain amount of money under your insurance policy limits with which to repair your home. If large sums of your insurance policy limits are spent on these initial emergency repairs, you run the risk of not having sufficient funds remaining to repair the remainder of your home. Therefore, we suggest that you always obtain an agreed-upon written estimate of the work prior to the performance of the same.
Further, as soon as possible, I suggest that you, to the best of your ability, start making a list of the damaged property. Although making a list can be difficult and time-consuming, you are the best person to know the extent of your property. It is also easier to remember what items you lost now than trying to remember what you had in the house 6 months from now. If you don’t list your lost or damaged property, most likely the insurance company will not reimburse you for same. Moreover, it is important to remember that many policies of insurance, initially, only pay you for the value of the lost item, after depreciating the property. However, if you replace the property, you may be entitled to the additional cost of the property to replace the property. Therefore, KEEP ALL RECEIPTS.
Finally, it is important to remember the difference between flood insurance and wind insurance. Your normal policy of property insurance does not cover flood damage, which includes damage caused by “rising water”, and will only cover damage caused by water that was “blown into” your home by the wind. For example, if your property was damaged by water that had been blown in through a broken window or hole in the roof, your normal homeowner's policy would cover it. However, if the damage was caused by water from the neighborhood of whom a nearby river, your homeowner’s policy will not cover the damage. It is crucial that you understand the coverages available to you prior to having any repair work done to your home. If you authorize a contractor to perform work after a flood and then realize that you do not have flood insurance, then you will be on the hook to pay for the repairs out of your own pocket.
As always, should you have any questions regarding what coverage may be available to you under your insurance policy, our team of attorneys are available to answer your questions.