Flood and Storm Surge Insurance Claims

J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo
Founder of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A.

Should you purchase flood insurance?

A storm can inundate your home with storm surge or flash flooding. Standard homeowners and renters insurance generally will not cover flood or storm surge damage.  You will need flood insurance to protect you against losses due to flooding or storm surge.

How do you purchase flood insurance?

An easy way to obtain flood insurance is through the federal government. The federal government provides a subsidized flood insurance program known as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). If you reside in a high-risk flood zone, purchasing flood insurance is a wise choice.

There is a chance you may already be insured under a flood policy.  Because of certain government regulations, if your home or business is located in a FEMA designated high-risk flood zone and you purchased your property with the help of a mortgage through a federally regulated and/or insured mortgage lender, your home will be required by law to carry flood insurance. You can find out if your property is in a floodplain by visiting FloodSmart.gov.

How to make a flood or storm surge insurance claim?

Before your policy takes affect, there will be a 30-day waiting period from the date you purchase the policy. 

If an impending flood is foreseeable (for example because of an incoming hurricane) you should document your property before the storm arrives. After a flooding loss, you need to ensure you promptly notify your insurance company of any flooding damage that has occurred. Even if the flooding has subsided, you should notify your insurer nevertheless because flooding typically causes latent damages such as mold and wood rot. Without proper notice, your claim may be denied.

You should be properly and extensively documenting your claim at every step of the way. Document your claim with pictures, videos, logs, receipts, etc. Document your conversations with your insurers, and send confirmation emails containing the substance of your claims. 

What is the claims process like?

After you have notified your insurance company, your insurer will send out their adjuster to your home or business. The adjuster will inspect the property and will then send an estimate of the damages, as well as the amount for which the adjuster believes you are covered based on your policy. If you agree with the adjuster's estimate, the proof of loss form should be signed and sworn to and the loss amount will be settled. If you disagree with the adjuster, contact your insurer and discuss the disputed amount with a claims examiner. If you are unable to reach an agreement with the claims examiner, you will complete an additional proof of loss form for the amount you are requesting and send this to your insurer’s claim examiner, along with documentation supporting the additional amount you are requesting.

After this, your insurer may agree with the documentation and pay the requested amount (or recommend the adjusting firm an additional payable amount and require a new proof of loss) or the insurer will pay any undisputed amount and issue a denial letter explaining the denial of your claim in part or in whole. If you wish to further dispute the denial you may: 1) send an amended proof of loss with supporting documents back to the claim examiner; 2) submit a formal appeal to FEMA within 60 days of your insurer’s denial letter; or 3) file a lawsuit in federal court against your insurer within a year of your insurer’s first denial letter. Once a lawsuit is filed you may no longer appeal your claim to FEMA.

Failure to provide a timely and proper proof of loss form will result in the denial of your claim.

What if your property was damaged by flood and you are not insured for flood or storm surge?

If you are a resident or business owner in a designated area that has sustained flood losses, you may be entitled to FEMA assistance. You can apply by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Additionally, you can apply for federal disaster relief benefits, which come in the form of low interest loans.

What does flood insurance not cover?

Generally, federal flood insurance coverage is capped at $250,000 and $100,000 for contents. Additionally, numerous losses are typically excluded by flood insurance coverage, such as: damage caused by moisture, mildew, or mold that could have been avoided by the property owner or which was not attributable to the flood; damage caused by earth movement even if the earth movement was caused by the flood; additional living expenses while your property is repaired; loss of use or access to the property; lost profits as a result of business interruption; property and belongings outside of an insured building such as trees, plants, wells, septic systems, walks, decks, patios, fences, seawalls, hot tubs, and swimming pools; currency, precious metals, stock certificates, etc.; and self-propelled vehicles such as cars.

You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].

Sources

https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1454965506940-fabb104bfd871fd94e3c6ce5e3d59e19/NFIP_Flood_Claim_Process.pdf

https://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program

https://www.consumerreports.org/flood-insurance/what-flood-insurance-does-and-does-not-cover/

https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1432130966606-ec9a9793a03f4a4b5655de0db708a256/Fact_Sheet_What_is_Covered-508.pdf

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