WARWICK, R. I. – Filing a flood insurance claim to repair flood damage is an important process for any home or business owner who purchased National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) protection before the severe March flooding in Rhode Island.
Every community in Rhode Island participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which enables authorized local insurance agents to offer NFIP policies.
When making a claim, a current flood insurance policy holder should immediately report any flood loss to their insurance company or agent. A claims adjuster will be assigned to inspect the structure, estimate the costs of repair, and send the estimate to the insurance company for review and approval for payment.
A proof of loss is the policy holder's valuation of the damages on both the building loss and the contents loss, should there be coverage for both. It is a sworn statement made by the policyholder substantiating the insurance claim. The insurance company will usually provide the form and in most cases, prepare the form based on the adjuster's estimate of repair. The policy holder will be required to submit a “proof of loss” statement as part of the claim. The claims package should be supported by photos of water in the structure and of the resulting damage. A comprehensive, itemized list of damages, swatches of carpets or fabrics that were damaged, copies of the claim and all supporting documents should be maintained by the property owner.
An important point to keep in mind is that the policy holder does not have to accept the initial estimate of the damage prepared by a claims adjuster. If the policyholder believes the claims adjuster did not cover all damages in the estimate, the policyholder can file a claim for the additional damages.
For example, there may have been hidden damage not detected by the claims adjuster during the inspection. Regardless of whether the policy holder agrees with the claims adjuster’s estimate of damages, the proof of loss must still be submitted to the NFIP or the insurance company within 60 days of the loss.
Insurance company adjusters, independent adjusters and repair contractors all use software programs developed to write itemized estimates on repair of structures. If an insurance company and the contractor are in agreement on the repairs needed, there should be little difference in the final cost of the repairs. These estimating programs are based on national data which is continuously updated with material and labor costs in different areas of the country.
If a policy holder finds the contractor's estimate is more than the claims adjuster's estimate, the policyholder needs to notify the insurance company immediately so the claims adjuster can meet with the contractor in order to resolve whatever differences there may be.
For more information about flood insurance, go to www.floodsmart.gov.