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Flood Claims - Disaster Relief

Disaster Relief

This article explains flood insurance, including what it does and does not cover.

Here, learn about flood insurance, which is usually a separate policy from homeowners insurance and may be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private company. The article explains how and when to file a claim and how to appeal denials.

How do I know if I have flood insurance?

If you have homeowner’s insurance, you probably do not have flood insurance (although you may have insurance for something like a broken pipe). Flood insurance usually requires a separate policy, which is generally bought directly through the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”). Sometimes they are purchased through a private company (known as “Write Your Own” policies or “WYO”), but they may still be NFIP policies. Some homeowner policies may help cover other damages, so you should check with your insurance agent and file a claim if you are unsure. If you have auto insurance and your car was flooded, file a claim with your car insurance company. Also, remember you should also apply with FEMA and the SBA (Small Business Administration) in case you are not covered by insurance and need help.

How do I know if I have an NFIP policy?

The first step is: Find your policy! Your policy comprises coverage forms (usually 20 to 30 pages long). The first page is called the “Declarations Page,” which details your coverage. If you don’t have a copy, ask your agent for one. If you have a federally-backed mortgage and were required to buy flood insurance, you will likely have the coverage because the premiums would be deducted from your mortgage account. With NFIP policies, FEMA pays the claims.

What should I do first?

DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT! Document everything at its worst! Take lots and lots of pictures of your house, your damaged property, and even the standing water BEFORE you begin to separate out damaged property or clean up. Take close-ups if you can, and do NOT throw anything away, if possible, until an adjuster can come to look.

Then report your claim as soon as possible by contacting your insurance agent. You will be given a claim number when you call to report your loss. Each time you talk to someone, you should keep a record of whom you speak to, what was said, and what time and date you called. If you bought flood insurance from NFIP, only a “certified flood claim adjuster” can handle the inspection and settlement with you. If you bought your policy from a private company, you might be sent a staff adjuster or independent adjuster. Usually, they will try to set an appointment for an adjuster to assess your damage within about two days of filing a claim. If you cannot reach your agent or have questions regarding your policy, you can contact the Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate at (800) 621-3362 (this is a FEMA number because, remember, FEMA pays the claims).

Make a list of anything that got lost or damaged. Try to include the date of purchase, estimated value, and any receipts if you have them. You will need to provide documentation of all of your losses. If you have no, look on the Internet for comparison pricing.

Prepare a proof of loss statement (the amount you claim, with backup documentation). Every line of the proof of loss should be filled out. Your adjuster should help you. THIS MUST BE FILED with your insurer WITHIN 60 DAYS OF THE FLOOD. If you miss the deadline, your claim will be DENIED. Sometimes the deadlines will be extended by FEMA. Check this website to see:, and watch your local news. For more information on filing a claim or filling out a proof of loss statement, you can go to

NFIP (National Flood Insurance Policy) may help pay to repair your home, replace personal property inside your home, and remove some debris. It DOES NOT help pay for additional living expenses, such as temporary housing or food that spoils due to a power outage.

What do I do if I disagree with the amount offered?

If your claim has not been denied, but you do not believe the amount is fair, you can request an appraisal. If your claim is denied, a suit must be filed in federal court within one year of the mailing date on the Notice of Disallowance of Partial Disallowance you receive.

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