Foundation problems from cracks and shifts coupled with heavy rain can lead to basement flooding. That troublesome development is followed by cleanup, repair, and filing an insurance claim to recover from the damage.
While insurance claims are important, it’s far more important to ensure your safety. Here are the critical items that need to be addressed before you do anything else.
- Turn off the electricity. Floodwaters can cover up a lot of problems including electrical outlets, appliances, and extension cords. Do not walk into basement floodwater without first shutting off the electricity. If the main circuit breaker is in the basement, call an electrician to make sure everything is shut off.
- Beware of natural gas leaks. A shifting foundation can not only cause cracks in basement or crawl space walls but can also crack or break pipes that enter those walls. That includes the natural gas pipe. If you smell gas, there’s an immediate danger of explosion. Leave the area at once and call the gas company.
- Stay clear of sewage backup. An additional hazard is the sewage drain pipe. It could crack or break. It can also backup due to soil saturation and flooding. That results in contaminated water in your basement. Don’t enter the water. Call a plumber.
- Beware of potential structural failure. Cracked or bulging foundation walls may also lead to potential structural damage. That puts you and your family at risk due to the possible collapse of your 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. It’s best practice to document exactly what happened and when as soon as possible. We can forget important aspects all too soon. Take detailed notes and supplement them with photos of the damage.
- Contact your insurer. Call your insurer to go over the detailed language of your policy to determine what’s covered and what isn’t covered.
- Double-check your damage notes. Have someone else look over the damage and check your notes to make sure everything is covered and that the notes are clear. You want to make sure you didn’t miss anything and that your description captures what you’re seeing.
- File your insurance claim. Log on to your insurer’s website or smartphone app to enter the details for your claim. You may be required to file two claims, one for the damage to the home or dwelling and one for loss of personal property.
- Work with the insurance adjuster. Once an insurance adjuster is assigned to your claim, offer them your full cooperation with access to your home and discussing the damage. Be sure to review their final report closely, ensuring they’ve covered everything.
- Determination of payout. When all that information has been processed by your insurer, a payment will be issued. It will be 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
Water damage from burst pipes, overflow from sinks or baths, as well as a leaking water heater, dishwasher, or washing machine are usually covered by typical homeowner’s policies.
Damage caused by heavy rain, storms, mudslides, sinkholes, or underground water seepage is not typically covered. For those hazards, you’ll need separate flood insurance.
Your current insurer may be able to offer supplemental flood coverage. 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.
To add insight into flooding in our area, the First National Flood Risk Assessment estimated that 215,600 properties in Minnesota are at substantial risk of flooding. North Dakota has 56,400 properties, South Dakota has 62,600, and Montana has 122,600.
To lend some perspective on the damages that come with flooding, FEMA has provided a cost of flooding calculator. Selecting a 1,000-square-foot one-story home and just one inch of water, the damage estimate is $10,819. Ramp that up to six inches and the expected damage reaches $21,161.
Basement Flooding Prevention
With that data in mind, it’s wise to not only acquire flood insurance but to also do all you can to prevent flooding damage 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 professionals. For a free inspection, contact Innovative Basement Authority.