One of the worst disasters you can experience as a homeowner is a flood. The damage can be extensive in ways you never could have imagined. The amount of water mixed in with the surrounding dirt will inevitably create a mess with mud. Depending on how long the water is sitting there, it can lead to toxic mold. Not to mention, if the flood somehow involves septic tanks, you could be exposed to a nightmarish mixture of germs. Flooding can cause irreparable damage to your appliances, and you will probably have to replace all of them. The structural damage can even require the replacement of carpet, wall boards, and cabinets. To deal with the setbacks of a flood, you will have to count on your insurance policies, but those policies are not always as reliable as you think.
The Problem with Insurance Companies
When it comes to homeowner's insurance, most policies do not cover flooding. A homeowner will usually have to purchase separate flood insurance for that type of emergency. Here is where it gets tricky. We often see people who cannot get the compensation they deserve because of two possible scenarios:
- A homeowner has a policy that does not cover flood damage. He or she will then have some sort of water damage and the insurance company will claim the water damage is due to a flood and deny the claim.
- A homeowner has a flood policy but the insurance company says the damage is not due to a flood and then denies the claim.
Either way, it is easy to see how an insurance company can try to avoid holding up their end of the deal. That is why it is crucial that you hire your own investigator to detail the damage in case the person sent by your insurance company says otherwise to your claim.
What are the Lingering Dangers of Flood Water?
Flood water poses several threats long after the rain actually stops falling. Some homeowners experience waist-deep waters, evacuations, and the closing of several main streets and intersections. For those who return to their flooded homes, there are certain precautions that should be taken. For one, the flood water itself is more than likely contaminated. The water could contain fecal matter and other germs that have been sitting stagnant for days. Second, there could be misplaced wildlife, like snakes or alligators, roaming the area. Third, the structure of your home could now be compromised from the water damage.
Steps to Navigating Flood Water in Your Neighborhood
- Do not eat or drink anything that you suspect was made with flood water.
- Use boiled water or bottled water to bathe yourself and clean items. If you have bottled water on hand, use that, but boiling the water you have at home is an understandable choice that is more affordable.
- Do not allow kids to play in the water. Keep a close eye on children and be weary of the toys that were left outside.
- Wash any toys that come into contact with the water. Being proactive and cleaning everything that was outside might take up some of your time, but you will never regret being extra careful.
- Be especially careful not to touch flood water if you have an open cut or wound. Even if the wound is now bandaged, steer clear of the flood water to avoid illness. If you show any signs of illness, be sure to contact your primary care physician immediately.
- Conserve your water and do not pump septic tanks. Some people will be tempted to do this, but it is not immediately necessary and could cause you more problems later.
- Wear protective gear like gloves and boots if you have to touch the water. Be sure to cover children, as well.
- Clean items with hot water and a bleach solution (1/4c. Bleach per gallon of water).
- Throw away items that cannot be cleaned or sterilized, like mattresses, drywall, and rugs. The longer you keep them inside the home, the more of a danger they pose to the integrity of the house.
Your Next Steps if You Have Experienced Home Flooding
If you or a loved one have experienced flood damage at home, now is the time to start contacting your home insurance to see what kind of coverage you have. Consider running your policy by a trusted lawyer to make sure you understand every bit of your coverage. Immediately document all of your damage and file a claim as soon as possible. If what your insurance company offers does not meet the agreement in your insurance policy, contact us at Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh today to set up a consultation to discuss your needs. For some dire situations, waiting for an insurance payout might not even be the best option to consider. Let a legal professional help guide you in this decision today so that you can be on a better path tomorrow for you and your family.