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How Do I Start My Flood Claim?

Español: ¿Cómo someto mi reclamación al seguro contra inundación?

This page explains the claims process and steps to follow as you start your National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claim and work with your adjuster and agent. The more you know, the smoother the process will go.

Prepare for floods: Flood loss avoidance is a protective action you take to minimize flood damage and losses to your buildings and personal property before a flood occurs. National Flood Insurance Program policies will cover up to $1,000 in reasonable expenses incurred to protect your insured property, and up to $1,000 to move your insured property away from a flood or imminent danger of a flood.

Read this First

Below are three steps you can take to begin the recovery process. More information is available in Starting Your Recovery: FEMA's Flood Insurance Claims Process and How to File a Claim (infographic).

 

  1. DETERMINE YOUR FLOOD LOSS AND REPORT YOUR CLAIM: Once it’s deemed safe by local officials, and you ensured the gas and electricity lines have been turned off, examine your property to determine if there is flood damage. If there is, contact your agent or insurance company to start your flood insurance claim and ask for an Advance Payment to help you begin recovering.

  2. START CLEANING UP, BUT DOCUMENT YOUR DAMAGE FIRST: Be sure to document your flood loss using photos and videos before you start cleaning up your home. Please keep in mind that as a FEMA flood insurance policyholder, it is your responsibility to minimize the growth and spread of mold as much as possible. Learn more about the Guidelines for Flood Clean Up for NFIP Policyholders.

  3. FILE FOR FEDERAL DISASTER ASSISTANCE: If there is a Presidential Disaster Declaration, file for FEMA assistance too because you may be eligible for additional funds to help with things like temporary housing. Read more about why it can be beneficial to register for federal disaster assistance from FEMA (Read Register for Federal Disaster Assistance, below).

Additional claims resources

How Do I Contact My Insurance Company?

Find the toll-free phone number for your insurance company. If you need help finding your insurance carrier, please call the NFIP Call Center, at 1800-427-4661. Representatives at the Call Center can tell you who your insurance provider is and how to contact them, if you're not sure, as well as answer other questions you may have.

Hurricane Florence Information

 

Extended Grace Period for Some Policyholders in Areas Affected By Hurricane Florence

NFIP policyholders normally have 30 days from their policy expiration date to pay to renew their policy and ensure continuous coverage. However, in the aftermath of the devastation of Hurricane Florence, FEMA’s NFIP has extended the renewal grace period from 30 days to 90 days for policyholders impacted by the flooding.

 NFIP policyholders who meet all of the conditions below have up to 90 days from their policy expiration date to pay to renew their flood insurance policy:

  1.     The flood-insured property is in a county designated under the Presidential Disaster Declarations for Individual Assistance in either North Carolina and South Carolina; AND

2.     The NFIP policy has an expiration date between Aug. 10, 2018, and Oct. 10, 2018; AND

3.     The policyholder has not renewed their flood insurance policy.

 

If a policy expires on or after October 10, 2018, the standard 30-day renewal grace period will go into effect. The NFIP cannot cover any flood claims for losses that occurred after the policy expiration date. 

 

For more information about renewing flood insurance policies, policyholders can contact their insurance carriers or call the NFIP Call Center at 1-800-427-4661.

 

Additional Resources:

  • FEMA's Hurricane Florence web page has additional important information, including information about how to register for FEMA disaster assistance. FEMA may be able to help you with temporary housing, for example, that is not covered by your NFIP flood insurance policy. It's a good idea to register with FEMA, even if you have NFIP flood insurance.

  • There is also rumors page where FEMA is providing the facts about misleading or incorrect information you may be hearing.

  • Here's some information about Rebuilding After A Hurricane.

Hurricane Michael Information

Some NFIP policyholders whose properties were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Michael could find that multiple perils (e.g., wind, fire and or flooding) damaged their property. This could necessitate filing more than one claim, under more than one insurance policy.

Facts to Consider:

Your NFIP flood insurance policy, as well as other policies like homeowner’s insurance, may cover damage caused by Hurricane Michael.

•    If floodwater damaged your home you need to notify your flood insurance agent or the company where you purchased
     your flood insurance policy as soon as possible.
•    If your home also experienced non-flood damage from the storm you will need to notify your homeowners’ insurance
     agent or company. This may be a different company from your flood policy.
•    Your flood insurance policy only covers physical damage directly caused by flood:

  • Most homeowners’ policies do not cover flood, but may cover damage from other perils, like wind or fire
  • Your insurance agent will be able to explain what is covered by your policies

What to Expect:
•    More than one insurance claim adjuster may visit your property. Adjusters are trained to distinguish the cause of
     specific damage to your home if you had multiple causes of loss (for example, flood & wind or flood & fire).
•    If your adjuster has questions about complicated damages, they may request assistance from an engineer or other
     experts. These experts can help determine the cause and extent of damage.
•    Your adjusters may need to consult with each other during the adjustment of your claims. If they determine
      you had multiple causes for your damage, you will have to go through more than one claims processes because you
      are dealing with two or more policies which cover different perils.

STEPS TO TAKE IMMEDIATELY

STEP 1: Contact Your Agent or Company Representative to Report Your Loss. Your flood insurance policy requires you to
give prompt written notice of your loss. To start the process, you should contact your flood insurance agent or your flood
insurance company directly.

When making the claim, you will likely need to provide:
•    The name of you insurance company;
•    Your policy number; and
•    A phone number and/or e-mail address where you can be reached.

STEP 2: Separate Your Property. Your flood insurance policy also requires you to separate damaged property from undamaged property. If you do throw away damaged property before your adjuster inspects your property, take photos of the property before disposing of it and keep samples for the adjuster to see. (For example, cut out a piece of wall-to-wall carpet.) Do all you can to protect undamaged property. However, prior to signing an agreement/contract with a cleaning, remediation, or maintenance contractor, you should consult with your flood adjuster or flood insurer concerning coverage for these services.

STEP 3: Make a List of Damaged Contents and Their Locations in Your Home. If you purchased contents coverage, make a list of damaged property. List the quantity of each item, a description, brand name, where purchased, its cost, model and serial number (if appropriate) and your estimate of the loss amount. Attach your bills, receipts, photos and any other documents.

STEP 4: List Areas of Building Damage. As you look over your property, make a list of any areas of damage you want to point out to the insurance adjuster.

WHAT’S NEXT?
Generally, your adjuster will contact you within 24-48 hours after receiving your notice of loss. However, depending on local conditions and the severity of flooding, it may take more time. Once the adjuster reaches you, they will set a time to view your property. You may ask the adjuster for an advance or partial payment. If you have a mortgage, your mortgage company will need to sign the building property advance check.

During the initial visit to your property, the adjuster will take measurements and photographs and note direct flood damage. NFIP encourages you to point out all damage you have noticed. After the adjuster completes the inspection, the adjuster will give you a contact telephone number and tell you whether any additional visits are needed. (This may be the case if damage is extensive.) The adjuster then uses the information gained from the visit(s)—and the documentation you have provided— to complete a detailed estimate of your damage. You will get a copy. The estimate may help you ask for bids for repair work from licensed professional contractors.

STEP 1: Start the Claims Process

After experiencing a flood, contact your agent or insurance company to start your claim and consider requesting an advance ayment so you can start recovering as soon as possible. If you have a policy written directly with the NFIP (your Declaration Page has the FEMA logo in the top corner), it's fast and easy to report your claim directlly to the NFIP's Direct Servicing Agent. When you click on the link you'll see a log-in screen. You may need to scroll down the page in order to find the information you need. Find your insurer on this list of insurance companies adminstering NFIP flood insurance and report your claim today.

Be sure you have the following information handy when speaking to your agent or insurance company:

  • Policy Declarations page (official document detailing your flood insurance coverage), if available

  • How you can be reached: Telephone phone number or alternate contact number; email address

  • The insured property location

  • The name of any mortgage company(s)

An adjuster should contact you within a few days of starting your claim. If you do not hear from an adjuster, you can contact your insurance agent or company again.
 

STEP 2: Prepare for Your Inspection

Before entering, make sure it’s safe to re-enter the building. Take photographs and videos of the damaged property, including items you plan to discard. As much as possible, your photos and videos should document the structural damage; standing floodwater levels (both inside and outside); and damage to appliances, furniture and other items before moving, removing or discarding anything. Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage to your home and possessions to prepare your repair estimate. 

  •  For items like washers and dryers, hot water heaters, kitchen appliances, televisions, and computers, make sure you take a photograph of the make, model, and serial number.

  • For your building items (e.g., flooring), retain samples such as carpet, wallpaper, and drapes for your adjuster’s inspection.

  • Immediately throw away flooded content items that pose a health risk, such as perishable food items, clothing, cushions, pillows, etc. after photographing them.

  • Contact repair services if the building’s electrical, water, or HVAC systems are damaged. It’s important to consult your adjuster or insurance company before you sign any agreement/contract with a cleaning, remediation, or maintenance contractor.

  • Contact your community building department and floodplain administrator to get information about:

    • Whether your property was substantially damaged;

    • Tips on how to better protect or repair your home; and

    • Obtaining a building permit. This is a very important thing to do so you build or repair in compliance with local ordinances.

Cleaning up your flood-damaged property

NFIP policyholders must follow the Guidelines of their flood policy when cleaning up. Read the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection Agency’s Homeowners' and Renters' Guide to Mold Cleanup After Disasters. It’s the responsibility of all National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders to minimize the growth and spread of mold as much as possible. NFIP flood insurance policies will not cover mold damage if a policyholder fails to take action to prevent the growth and spread of mold.

In some instances, it’s just not possible for a policyholder to get to the property and clean up and remove the mold. The damage may be covered when:

  • A legally authorized official has banned entrance into the area (possibly as a result of downed trees, downed power lines, washout/destruction of roadways, and any other reason the official may restrict entrance); and or

  • Floodwaters remain around the home or in the area impeding the policyholders ability to inspect and maintain the insured property.

Read Starting Your Recovery: FEMA's Flood Insurance Claims Process for more information.

STEP 3: Work with Your Adjuster

When your claims adjuster arrives, they should show you their official identification (Driver’s License and Company ID or Flood Control Number [FCN card]). They should also provide you with their contact information, such as their name, email, phone number, and the name of their adjusting firm, and their telephone number.  When meeting with you, your adjuster should cover the following:

  • An explanation of the NFIP Flood Claims Process.

  • An inspection of your property—during which he/she will scope your loss by taking measurements and photos.

  • An explanation of what an advance payment is and how or if you can get one.

  • Information about how you should present your loss to your insurance company and a discussion about your policy coverage.

At the end of your inspection, your adjuster should provide you with information about what you need to do and what will happen next.   

Other things to know, do and or discuss with your adjuster:

  • The insurance carrier, not the adjuster, has the authority to approve your claim.

  • Be sure to provide your current mailing address and phone number if you are displaced.

  • Ask if you are eligible for Increased Cost of Compliance.

  • The adjuster should never ask you for money or collect your deductible amount

  • The insurance carrier, not the adjuster, has the authority to approve your claim

STEP 4: Document your Loss and Receive Payment

Your adjuster will help you document your flood damage for the claim. Here are some things you can do to support the claims process so it goes smoothly:

  • Speak with your agent about your insurance policy, what it covers and read the Claims Handbook.
  • Provide the photos and videos of your flood loss to your adjuster. It can be helpful to organize these by room.
  • Keep documents showing how you repaired or replaced flood damaged items, such as receipts, bank statements, and contractor invoices.  Provide these documents to your adjuster.

The adjuster will work with you to submit an estimate of your flood loss. Be sure you ask your insurance company about any important deadlines you need to meet. This will help ensure you receive a claim payment that reflects your flood loss, within your policy limits.

Register for Federal Disaster Assistance

Disaster survivors with flood or homeowners/renters insurance are encouraged to apply for federal disaster assistance whenever there is a flood and a Presidential Disaster Declaration has been granted to help its survivors. For flood insurance policyholders who apply and are found eligible, federal disaster assistance could help pay for things like temporary housing assistance, which is not covered by flood insurance. The only way to know if you are eligible for this assistance is available, is to apply.

Registering online, at DisasterAssistance.gov  is the quickest way to register for federal disaster assistance. If you do not have access to the internet you may register by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or 800-462-7585 (TTY). If you use 711 relay or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362 directly.

Helpful resources

The  Claims Handbook can help you as you go through the process of filing and settling your flood insurance claim.

Other Resources

Rebuilding After a Hurricane.
Learn about reporting disaster fraud.
Learn about Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters.

Unsatisfied With Your Claim Payment?

Your flood insurance company is committed to ensuring that you receive the full amount you are entitled to under your flood policy.  If you receive a letter from your flood insurance company denying all or part of your claim, or you would like to request an additional payment, you have several options to help make sure you receive the full amount due under your policy.

Still Need Help?

Visit our Got a Problem? page.

Last Updated: 
10/19/2018 - 18:43