Floods can be devastating for property owners. Floods occur as a result of an overflow from an existing body of water or as a result of excessive rainfall. Floodwaters can slowly rise up over the course of a storm. They can also happen very quickly in the case of flash floods.
Flooding typically occurs in low areas where the water is unable to properly drain. These floodplains can be known to flood annually, which doesn’t tend to be an issue for most people. However, there are situations where developments are built on floodplain land. Just because there hasn’t been a flood in the area for many years doesn’t mean that your property is safe from flood damage.
Flooding can also occur in developed areas where large amounts of concrete prevent the water from draining off naturally.
Flood claims are handled through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP looks at flooding as two acres or more of land that is normally dry or two or more properties that are covered or semi-covered in water or mud.
Flood damage is the second most common source of property damage from natural disasters (wildfires are #1).
The typical homeowner’s policy does not include flood insurance. This is because all flood insurance is handled through the federal government. Flood insurance needs to be purchased through the NFIP which sets the national rates. Rates do not change between insurance companies or agents.
Flood insurance will cover the building property as well as the contents. Flood policies will cover any structural damage that might occur during a flood as well as loss to personal property. Make sure to read the entire insurance policy so you can best determine what is covered under the policy and what is not. New policies often take 30 days after purchase to be active.
Filing a flood claim can be tricky business. There are filing deadlines that must be met and specific paperwork that needs to be filed to even begin making a claim. This is where the experience of a qualified law firm can be invaluable. Attorneys who have dealt with these claims before understand the process and can help to keep your claim on track to meet the required deadlines.
Flood Warning vs Flood Watch
As a homeowner in an area that is vulnerable to flooding, you need to understand the difference between a flood warning and a flood watch. When a flood warning is issued, the storm is severe enough to have the potential to flood.
With a flood watch, a flood is currently in progress or about to occur. When a flood watch is issued, it is recommended that individuals get to higher ground. If you have enough time, try to secure important belongings like pictures, important documents, insurance policies, and other mementos.
It is also a good idea to bring outside furniture inside and, if possible, get belongings to higher ground. Disconnect all electrical appliances and turn of the main utility lines and circuit breakers.
Try to avoid walking through moving water and driving through flooded areas. You never know what might be floating just under the surface. If you’re stuck in a car during a flood, abandon the vehicle and get yourself to safety. You should also avoid any downed power lines and avoid contact with any electrical equipment. The risk of electrocution is very high during and after a flood.
After a Flood
If your property has been damaged by a flood, you need to get the claim process started immediately. Make sure to document all damage and catalog any loss to personal property. The more evidence you can gather, the better off your claim will be.
If you have enough time before a flood hits, it is a good idea to get pictures and video of your property prior to the flood. This will give you a good base to compare for damage claims. The NFIP is known for trying to pay out as little as possible in flood claims. Anyone in Louisiana old enough to remember the state of affairs post Katrina understands this well.
When reentering your property after a flood, you need to take certain precautions to protect yourself. Start by sanitizing anything that came in contact with flood waters. Flood waters are known to carry a variety of bacteria that can easily cause severe illness.
If you live in an area at high to moderate risk for a flood, you should always keep a week’s supply of drinking water on hand. The drinking water can easily become contaminated after a flood, and might not be safe for consumption.
Obtain the Coverage You Are Owed
Of all the corruption and acts of mistreatment, we consider bad faith insurance tactics to be chief among them. You pay diligently into your policy, knowing that you are doing the right thing by protecting your family and your home in New Orleans against flood damage, but your insurance company withholds what are you are owed when you absolutely need financial support the most. This is illegal, and our New Orleans flood damage insurance attorneys work to prevent it.
At SVHC of Louisiana, we fight for our clients against insurance companies who wrongfully dodge coverage of the possessions we hold most valuable. The second your insurance company looks as though it is going to fully or partially deny coverage, act immediately into obtaining representation. Our team will protect your interests every step of the way.
Flood Damage versus Water Damage
Insurance companies make a strict point to differentiate these two, and perhaps for good reason. Water damage refers to commonplace water accidents in the home: broken pipes, appliance leaks, clogged toilets, and the like. In New Orleans, flood damage refers to water damage caused by a natural flood: heavy rain storm, public water incident, hurricane, etc.
The differences between these two will make an impact on your case, as some policies cover one and not the other. Additionally, flood damage tends to be more complete, more destructive, whereas water damage tends to affect only a small area of the home.
Overcoming Disaster: What you need to know after a fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, or other disaster
Frequently Used Bad Faith Tactics
Insurance companies are notorious for attempting to utilize loopholes to avoid paying out. The moment you run into this problem, contact one of SVHC’s qualified New Orleans bad faith flood damage insurance attorneys. In dealing with them yourself, they may lead you down a chain of events that confuses you and voids our attempts to recover your disbursement.
Contact a New Orleans property damage attorney if you experience the following:
- Deliberate delaying of the investigation
- Claiming the damage was caused by another force
- Claiming your home had existing damage
- Deliberate delaying of your payments
- Intentional shortchanging or misrepresentation of the coverage needed
- Manipulation of the evidence during investigation
What You Can Do to Avoid Bad Faith
In addition to calling an attorney to handle the insurance companies for you, there a few things you can always do in the event that your home or automobiles experience flood damage.
Keep a record of all of the following items:
- Your interactions with the insurance agency
- Pictures of the damage in contrast to before the damage
- Invoices, appraisals, repairs, quotes
- The original terms of your insurance policy
Contact an Experienced Attorney Today
If you have been the victim of property damage as a result of a flood, it is a good idea to get an experienced attorney on your side. Claims can be delayed, underpaid, or denied for a variety of reasons. With our team of attorneys on your side, you can be assured that all facets of your claim will be handled thoroughly and efficiently.
Contact us today for your free case evaluation.