Checklist: Critical Steps for Basement or Foundation Insurance Claims
Basement flooding or foundation damage can be hazardous to your family's health, safety, and finances. Here are the critical steps to take when filing homeowner's insurance claims.
Most insurance companies have online claim submission forms, and many have mobile phone apps. Here are the critical steps and items you’ll need to submit for an insurance claim. But first things first.
If you’re experiencing basement flooding or foundation damage from a storm or some other catastrophe, take steps at once to protect your family and your property.
- Natural gas leaks are a real concern. If you smell gas, leave the house and call the gas company to shut things down.
- Electrical outlets and equipment could be underwater, leading to shocks. Turn off the main power and contact your electrical company.
- Sewage backup is one possible cause of basement flooding. The bacteria from raw sewage are a major health hazard. Call a plumber for assistance and don’t wade into the flooded basement.
- Structural issues are possible from foundation damage. Make sure your home is structurally sound before entering.
Critical Steps for Insurance Claims
Here are the steps you need to take in filing an insurance claim for basement flooding or foundation damage.
- Document the damage at once. Write down what happened and when. Take photos of the damage. Describe the location and the damage depicted in each photo for your notes.
- Contact your insurer as soon as possible. Make sure you have the insurance policy number. Be ready to describe what happened and the extent of the damage. They will advise you on the coverage for the damage.
- File a claim, typically online or via mobile app. Most homeowner’s policies provide coverage for the dwelling and your personal belongings. They usually require separate claims for each type of loss. You may need receipts for your personal belongings to help establish the amount of loss.
- Insurance adjuster assignment, visit, and review of claim. At this point, the insurance company takes over. An adjuster will be assigned to visit, review the damage, and file a report with the company.
- Determination of payout. Once all that’s done, the insurance company will determine the payout for the claim. The payout will be less the insurance policy deductible.
In Step 2 above, the insurer will let you know if the particular damage you’ve incurred will actually be covered by your homeowner’s policy. There are some claims they will reject and others they will cover.
Basement Flooding and Foundation Damage Insurance Coverage
Most homeowner’s policies typically cover frozen pipes that burst along with unexpected flooding caused by a water heater, broken appliance, and overflow from a sink, bathtub, or pool. Flooding caused by HVAC overflow is also usually covered.
Damage that’s not typically covered includes basement flooding or foundation damage caused by heavy rains, storms, mudslides, sinkholes, or underground water seepage. In addition, damage due to earthquakes, tree roots, foundation settling, or faulty construction are not covered.
Supplemental Insurance Coverage
You can either buy separate policies, or in some cases, add supplemental coverage to your homeowner’s insurance policy for earthquakes or flooding. For example, in Florida 22% of homeowners have flood insurance policies. See our article 16 Worst U.S. Cities for Flooding for additional insight. As further motivation, it only takes one inch of water to cause $25,000 damage.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
We hope you’re reading this article to better prepare for basement or foundation problems rather than responding to a crisis. To support your prevention efforts, we’ve created a Flood Prevention Checklist to help.
While you’re considering options for preventing basement flooding or foundation damage, it’s always a good idea to get professional advice from your local basement waterproofing and foundation repair experts. Contact us for a free inspection.