Denied Flood Damage Insurance Attorney
Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. It often accompanies other extreme weather events such as storms, tornados, and hurricanes. Currently, approximately 90% of natural disasters in the country involve floods, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Because of how common floods can be, they are also among the most expensive of natural disasters. Flooding is the fourth most costly weather event in the United States, with an average cost of $4.8 billion per event. And while you may think that flooding is not a risk to your particular area, data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association shows that every state in the country has been affected by extreme flooding at least once since 1980.
If your property was recently damaged in a flood, you are likely depending on the money you expect to receive from your property insurance policy. Any delay in receiving those funds can make an already difficult situation even worse. If you need help getting your flood damage claim paid, contact the flood insurance dispute lawyers at Wallace Law for help.
Rising Rates of Flood Damage Across the US
Flood risk is a very real threat across the United States, and rates are only expected to rise in the near future. The expected cost of flood damage on average across the US is expected to rise by 61% in a 30-year projection. Roughly 4.3 million homes are at increased risk of experiencing economic damage from flooding. Currently, flooding due to extreme weather events costs about $20 billion worth of damage to US homes. That number is expected to rise to as much as $32 billion by 2051.
Examples of Covered Flood Damage
What is and is not covered in the event of a flood is determined by your particular policy and contract. If you are having trouble with your claim, or if your flood insurance claim amount has been reduced, contact an insurance dispute attorney today to discuss the specifics of your case.
The following are examples of generally covered kinds of damage resulting from flooding:
- Essential appliances and systems: Electrical and plumbing systems, water heaters, air conditioners, solar panels, refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers are typically covered by flood insurance. So too are freezers and the food in them. There may be other kinds of essential appliances and systems you have installed in your home that are also covered by your policy.
- Carpeting and window treatments: Permanently installed carpeting, as well as window blinds, curtains and treatments are typically covered due to flood damage.
- Paneling, bookcases, and cabinets: Damaged cabinets and permanently installed paneling, wallboard, and bookcases are considered covered. However, if you need to reinstall a matching set, insurance typically only covers the cost of replacing the damaged cabinetry, and not the entire area.
- Foundational damage: If damage done to walls, staircases, and anchorage systems is caused directly by flood waters, it should be considered a covered loss. However, it is important to understand that some insurance companies will attempt to avoid paying for foundational damage with an “earth movement exclusion” clause. Some policies state that if the loss was due to earth movement, even if the earth movement was caused by the flooding, it is not considered to be covered damage by flood insurance.
- Some personal property
- Some valuables
- Some areas of a detached garage
Flood Damage: Long-Lasting Concerns
Floods can cause an immediate risk to life and safety, as well as longer-lasting water damage after the event. Some of these may be covered by your flood damage policy.
- Mold: One big concern after a flood is mold, which can cause breathing issues and health risks for people and animals. While slow-growing mold is often not covered by insurance policies, if the mold risk comes directly from a flood, you may be able to receive help paying for treatment. Consult with an insurance dispute attorney to be sure you have a case.
- Damage to floors and furniture: Damage to floors and furniture may be covered by your policy. You can receive payment to replace or repair some damaged personal property and most permanently installed furnishings after a flood.
- Loss of habitability: After a flood, there may be a significant period of time before you can return to your home. Most insurance policies unfortunately do not cover secondary housing.
- Infrastructure damage: Depending on the severity of the event, there may be larger concerns for both your home’s infrastructure and the livability of your area.
- Health risks: Flood waters can carry contaminants that bring risk of infection. Drinking or bathing water may be dangerous immediately after a flood. Additionally, the risk of electrocution is raised for a period after flooding, as standing water may conduct electrical current from downed power lines.
How to File a Flood Damage Home Insurance Claim
When filing a flood damage home insurance claim, document everything. Take pictures and videos of every area of your home that was affected by the flood. You will also need photographs of all of your personal belongings that were lost or damaged. In the ideal scenario, you will also have photographic evidence of what your home and surrounding area looked like before the flood. In this way, the insurance company can compare and contrast proof of the damage. Having before and after pictures may also help strengthen your claim for mold damage or other issues after a flood.
Contact your insurance company, and share all of the documentation with them as soon as it is safe to do so. Filing a flood damage claim is a time-sensitive undertaking.
In the event that your claim is denied outright, or undervalued, you have the right to know why. Save copies of all of your communications with your insurance company, and when possible try to get information in writing instead of over the phone. Keeping records of everything will make it easier to file an appeal or flood damage lawsuit down the line, in case it is necessary to do so.
Why Home Insurers May Try to Deny Flood Damage Claims
Flood damage is a complex area of insurance coverage. Knowing what is and isn’t covered can be difficult for the layperson to understand. Furthermore, while flood damage is normally covered in a homeowners insurance policy, many homeowners are dismayed to learn that their general policy did not cover flood damage and they need a separate policy.
At first glance, it seems like areas of your home and property that were affected by a flood should be covered by a flood insurance policy. However, many insurers separate out damage into indirect and direct flood damage, and only cover direct damage. In this way, an insurance company may be able to exclude flood damage due to sewer backup by claiming the damage is indirect. In other ways, if multiple natural disasters happened at once (earth movement, tornado, high winds and flooding), an insurer may attempt to claim that the damage was not due directly to flood, but from other concerns that were initiated by the flooding. This allows the insurance company to avoid paying for even major infrastructural damage such as collapsed staircases or walls, if they can claim the damage was done by a secondary event, and not directly by the flood.
Other policies exclude basements from their coverage, or only protect foundation, drywall, insulation, staircases, electrical outlets and switches, and central air conditioners located in the basement—and not other kinds of personal property stored there. External property areas such as swimming pools, septic systems, decks, or patios may be excluded from policies. Insurance companies may try to do anything and everything they can to protect their own bottom line, especially as claims for flood insurance rise in the coming years. Be prepared to be told “no,” even for areas and issues that should be covered by your policy. In the event that an insurance company denies or undervalues your claim, an insurance dispute attorney can help hold them accountable.
How Homeowners Can Fight Back Against a Denied or Disputed Flood Damage Claim
Floods are a costly natural disaster, and one that many insurance companies are ill-equipped to cover the rising cost of. Representatives from FEMA estimate that just one inch of flooding can cause up to $25,000 worth of damage to the average home or apartment.
If your insurance company is attempting to deny or reduce your claim amount, you may be able to file an appeal. With the help of an insurance dispute lawyer, you can make sure you get the full benefit of your policy.
Contact the experts at Wallace Law for a free legal consultation about your possible case. Living through a flood is a stressful experience enough without your insurer attempting to nickel and dime you for the damage done to your possessions, home, and valuables. The team at Wallace Law are experts at closing loopholes and presenting the strongest possible case for your claim. We fight the insurance company, so you don’t have to.