5 (More) Tips for Handling Water in the Basement

flooded basementIn a previous post, we gave you a checklist of preparations to prevent or deal with a flooded basement. There's more to this subject, so here are five more things you should know about basement water damage and how to handle it.

Know your insurance policy

As we mentioned in the previous post, homeowner's insurance does not cover flooding. Still, it's a good idea to examine your policy to see what it does cover in relation to water damage. The definition of “flooding” can vary from carrier to carrier; it's possible your carrier may define “flood” for coverage purposes as the overflow of a body of water, which would leave seepage and other causes of a wet basement very much on the table. Don't make any assumptions, check the policy ahead of time, or ask your agent. Another part of your policy to be familiar with is the “Duties After A Loss” section. Every insurer requires policyholders to take certain reasonable actions after damage occurs in order to secure the property and reduce the total bill. The requirements will probably be simple, common sense actions you would want to take anyway. Plus, if the insurer can claim you didn't engage in "mitigation of loss," your claim can be reduced. Know what your duties are and get them done as soon as you can.

Know how to talk to—and listen to—your insurance company

It's almost certain that your insurer will want to do whatever they can to help you, but make sure you don't give them a loophole to jump through. Unless you have a flood insurance coverage in place, don't describe any water flow or damage as a flood, flooding or the consequence of a flood. Doing so gives them a quite reasonable point of evidence to use to deny your claim. If you think your home was flooded, who are they to argue? Challenging their decision could take months, leaving you paying repair bills that you should have never seen, or hanging on waiting for them to be reimbursed. Be sure you comply with any requests or instructions from your insurer immediately, and document every aspect of the disaster—the initial damage, actions you took, repair bills you paid, purchases you made—with receipts, photos and even (if the flooding was caused by someone else's actions) the names and insurance information of other parties involved.

Know what to do yourself

Some of this will fall under your “Duties After A Loss,” but consider what you can do to reduce the damage or prevent more water from entering the home or business. Pumping out the basement, cleaning up silt, making repairs that will keep additional water out, etc., are all good ideas. Make sure you balance this with the need to show how the damage occurred. Don't find yourself in a situation where it's your word against the insurance adjuster's as to how the water got in or what it did to your building. When you take action, take plenty of photos to show what you did.

Know when to step aside

Much of the recovery work your home or business will need after a flooding incident is best left to the professionals. Aside from safety concerns, there's the fact that you'll probably need to take time away from work to handle the problem. Disposal of damaged or mold-infested materials will be an expensive hassle for you, but an everyday procedure for a disaster restoration firm. Plus, there's literally no guarantee that either you, or the maintenance staff at your business, will find and fix everything. But a reputable disaster restoration contractor will give you a written guarantee and valuable peace of mind.

Know you're on the priority list

Many disaster recovery companies have a free emergency response program which places you on a priority list. In case of damage or disaster, you'll be placed ahead of other callers. This may reduce your total damage and will definitely reduce how long it takes for you to get back to normal. Flooded basements are a hassle, but stay alert, be prepared and you'll be able to handle it without breaking a sweat. Download your free home disaster planning eBook  


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