National Preparedness Month: How to file a flood claim
It can be a very overwhelming time for a property owner or renter following a flood. The information below will provide you with what you need to know about filing a flood insurance claim, tips on what you can do and need to know before your flood insurance adjuster visits your property and the other visitors you can expect at your property. The more you know, the smoother the process will go.
You should report your loss immediately to your insurance agent or insurance carrier and ask them about Advance Payments.
Find your insurer on this list of insurance companies administering National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance and report your claim right away. If you need assistance finding your insurance carrier, please call 800-427-4661. Help is available in most languages. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can use TTY 800-462-7585.
If you have a policy written directly with the NFIP (i.e., your Declaration Page has the FEMA logo in the top corner), it's fast and easy to report your claim directly to the NFIP's Direct Servicing Agent.
You should have the following information available when reporting your claim:
- Policy Declarations page (official document detailing your flood insurance coverage), if available
- How you can be reached: telephone number or alternate contact number and email address
- The insured property location
- The name of any mortgage company(s)
A claims adjuster should contact you within 24-48 hours, but it may take longer, depending on the severity of the flood event.
NOTE: Your NFIP policy does not cover Additional Living Expenses, including temporary housing, but if you qualify, FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program might be able to help. So, it’s important to register for assistance with FEMA, even if you have flood insurance.
Registering online, at DisasterAssistance.gov is the quickest way to register for FEMA assistance. If you do not have access to the internet, you may register by calling 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. If you use 711 relay or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362 directly. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.
NFIP policyholders must follow the guidelines of their flood policy when cleaning up. Read the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection Agency’s Homeowner’s and Renter’s Guide to Mold Cleanup After Disasters.
Before entering a flooded building, make sure it’s safe.
Take as many photos and/or videos of your flood-damaged property as you can, both on the outside and the inside of the building, and label them, by room, before you remove anything—including items of exceptional value. 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. This information should be provided to your adjuster.
Remove your flood damaged items:
- For your building items (e.g., flooring), retain samples such as carpet, wallpaper and drapes for your adjuster’s inspection.
- For your personal property items, separate the damaged from undamaged items for your adjuster’s inspection.
- Immediately throw away flooded items that pose a health risk, such as perishable food, clothing, cushions and pillows, after photographing them.
- Confirm your available NFIP coverage. Some policyholders may only have building or contents (personal property items) coverage, not both.
- Contact repair services if the building’s electrical, water or HVAC systems are damaged. It’s important to consult your adjuster or insurance carrier before you sign any agreement/contract with a cleaning, remediation or maintenance contractor.
- Contact your community building department and floodplain administrator to get the following information:
- Whether your property was substantially damaged;
- Tips on how to better protect or repair your home; and
- How to obtain a building permit. This is a very important step to ensure you are rebuilding in compliance with local ordinances.
When your claims adjuster arrives, he/she should show you their official identification (Driver’s License and Company ID or Flood Control Number (FCN card)). The adjuster should also provide you with their contact information, such as their name, email, phone number, the name of their adjusting firm and their telephone number.
What you should expect from your adjuster:
- 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 carrier, and a discussion about your policy coverage.
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.
At the end of your inspection, your adjuster should provide you with information about what you need to do and what will happen next. The adjuster should hand you a physical copy of this information along with his/her contact information. Read more about what to do after your inspection.
Your adjuster may assist you in preparing a Proof of Loss (your sworn statement of the amount you are claiming, including necessary supporting documentation) for your official claim for damage. A Proof of Loss can be many things, but must contain the specific details set forth in the Standard Flood Insurance Policy. You'll need to file your Proof of Loss with your insurance company within 60 days of the date of loss.
You'll receive your claim payment after you and the insurer agree on the amount of damage and the insurer has your complete and signed Proof of Loss. If major catastrophic flooding occurs, it may take longer to process claims.
Note: Signing a Proof of Loss does not waive your rights to file for additional claim payments in the future if additional damage is discovered.
Note: The requirement to file the Proof of Loss could be waived by FEMA depending on the severity of the event. Your adjuster or insurance company will let you know if this happens.