Heavy rain and flooding can cause significant damage to your foundation in addition to all the other damage it may cause in your home and yard. After the damage, you’re faced with cleanup, repair, and filing an insurance claim to help you recover from the damage.
Getting things repaired and back to normal is foremost in our minds after a major problem. However, it’s critical that you ensure your safety and that of your family before you rush into anything at all.
Here are the critical items to address first.
- Turn off the electricity. Electrical outlets, appliances, and particularly extension cords are low enough that they could come in contact with floodwater. Don’t walk into basement floodwater before you’ve turned off the main circuit breaker. Call an electrician for help if necessary.
- Beware of natural gas leaks. Shifting basement, crawl space, or foundation walls can cause cracks and even breaks in pipes that enter those walls. Any opening in a natural gas pipe means there’s an immediate danger of explosion. If you smell gas, leave the area at once and call the gas company.
- Stay clear of sewage backup. Yet another pipe that can break is the sewage drainage pipe. Not only that but it can also backup due to soil saturation and flooding. That results in sewage backup into your basement or crawl space. Don’t enter the contaminated water. Call a plumber.
- Beware of potential structural failure. Bowing or cracked foundation walls can lead to structural damage and, in extreme cases, failure. That can pose a significant danger to you and your family due to the possible collapse of walls or the home. Keep clear until your home has been declared structurally sound.
Step-by-Step Insurance Claims
Here are the key steps to file an insurance claim for basement flooding or foundation damage.
- Document the damage. While everything is still fresh in your mind, document exactly what happened and when. Take detailed notes and supplement them with photos of the damage.
- Contact your insurer. Get in touch with your insurer to go over the details of your policy to determine what is and is not covered. This can further help you target your documentation efforts.
- Double-check your damage notes. Have at least one more person look over your notes and compare them to the damage. They can help clarify your notes and make sure you’ve covered everything.
- File your insurance claim. This can be the most straightforward step. Most insurers ask that you file your claim online or via smartphone app. All you need to do is enter the details and photos you’ve already collected. You may be required to file two separate claims, one for dwelling and one for personal property.
- Work with the insurance adjuster. Your insurer may assign your claim to an adjuster. Offer them your full cooperation including access to your home and your insight into what happened and the damage. Review their final report closely to ensure they’ve covered everything you’ve identified.
- Determination of payout. Once everything has been processed by your insurer, they will issue a payment minus the policy deductible.
For further information, FEMA has a helpful guide on How to File a Flood Insurance Claim.
Insurance Coverage: Basement Flooding and Foundation Damage
Most homeowner’s insurance covers water damage from internal sources. That includes burst pipes, overflow from sinks or baths, as well as a leaking water heater, dishwasher, or washing machine.
You’ll need separate flood insurance coverage for damage from storms, heavy rain, mudslides, sinkholes, or underground water seepage.
Supplemental flood coverage may be available from your current insurer. You can also access the National Flood Insurance program. Go to the FEMA Flood Map Service Center where you can map your property to determine flooding risks and start the application process.
To add insight into flooding in our area, the First National Flood Risk Assessment estimated that 131,200 properties in Colorado were at substantial risk of flooding. The report also notes that 49,700 home and property owners in our state have made flood damage claims since 2000.
To lend some perspective on the damages that come with flooding, FEMA has provided a cost of flooding calculator. Selecting a 2,500-square-foot one-story home and just one inch of water, the damage estimate is $26,807. Ramp that up to six inches and the expected damage reaches $52,037.
Basement Flooding Prevention
With all that information in mind, it’s prudent to both acquire flood insurance and do all you can to prevent basement flooding in the first place. To help your prevention efforts we’ve developed a Flood Damage Prevention Checklist.
When you’re considering options for preventing basement flooding or foundation damage, it’s a good idea to get advice from the professionals. For a free inspection, contact Foundation Repair of Western Colorado.