If it’s safe to do so, take photos or videos of the damage – but let the professionals climb onto the roof, Hunter said. You can also submit images of your belongings taken before the storm to document your losses.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees the flood insurance program, recommends discarding flood-damaged items that pose a health threat, such as mold growth, after pictures are taken. Keep samples of flood damaged items, such as rugs and curtains, to show to the expert.
Keep receipts for all initial repairs as well as the cost of hotels and meals. Although federal flood policies do not reimburse temporary living expenses, homeowners’ policies generally cover these expenses when they are the result of wind damage. In federally declared disaster areas, disaster assistance can help pay for living expenses that flood insurance does not cover. You can search the FEMA Disasters website to see if your area qualifies.
Fortunately, standard home insurance policies generally cover damage caused by high winds, such as ripped roofs, shingles or siding, or blown rain. If your property has been affected by both wind and flooding, you may be eligible for living expenses under your policy, Hunter said.
Here are some questions and answers about flood insurance:
What if I am not satisfied with my flood claim?
If you think your payment is too low, you can dispute it. You can ask the expert’s supervisor to reconsider your claim, or you can file a request with the insurer for reconsideration. If you still don’t agree, you can file a written appeal with FEMA within 60 days of the insurer’s denial letter.
In the event of serious damage, you might consider bringing in a public adjuster – a professional adjuster who represents you rather than the insurer. In most states, public adjusters work on contingency fees, which means they aren’t prepaid but take a share of the settlement – often 15%. (Louisiana does not allow contingency fees, so adjusters typically charge a fixed or hourly fee.) Because the fees can be high, the Consumers Federation does not recommend hiring adjudicators immediately. public disasters, Hunter said.
But insurers may seek to delay paying claims or deny them, hoping policyholders will drop out and accept the upfront payment, said Anita Taff, president of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. Insurance policies can be complex, she said, and the federal flood program has deadlines that must be met to protect your claim. So a fitter can help keep you on track. Typically, she said, an initial consultation with a public adjuster is free. If you would like to consider hiring one, you can search the Association of Member Claims Adjusters website, who agree to the group’s rules of conduct and training.