On Saturday, the city of Houston was pounded with torrential rains from Hurricane Harvey as it touched down in Rockport, Texas. With the rains not stopping for a few more days many of us are trying to figure out what is next.  And the next step will be filing an insurance claim for our flooded homes and vehicles.  Follow the steps below to assist with filing your insurance flood claims caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Steps to Filing Your Flood Claims:

Auto Insurance Flood Claims

If you experience a flood that damages your car, your first priority will always be to get yourself and your family to safety.

When filing an auto flood claim make sure you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle then follow these steps:

  • Take pictures or video of damages

Contact your agent immediately.  You may be preoccupied dealing with the aftermath of a flood so calling your agent may not be the first thing on your mind.  If this is the case, document damages by taking pictures or a video to have detailed information for when you file your claim. You can also leave yourself a voicemail of notes to yourself help you remember details later.  You may even be able to send this information via phone to your agent or company.

  • Minimize damage to your car

If possible, move your car to higher or drier ground to minimize any extended damage to your car.  Your claims adjuster may deny a claim if some of the flood-related damage was a result of your negligence.  Be careful about starting a car if it was totally submerged in water.  Debris from water in the engine or water damage to electronics can cause far worse damage to your car if it is started.  If you think there’s a chance that water got into the engine, get a tow truck to move it.

  • Track your claim status

Keep in contact with your agent or claims adjuster through schedule calls or emails.  Contact your claims adjuster when you have your car sent to the repair shop for an estimate.  Once the adjuster visits the repair shop he or she will have information to determine whether your car is a total loss.

Flood Insurance Claims

  • Notify your insurance agent to begin the process of filing a claim

Contact your agent to verify insurance coverage for your property and who to call to file a claim.  Your insurance company will ask for your policy number, address and contact information so have it on hand.  The agent will take this and other information regarding damages to your property to make notes on your claim.  All gathered information will be sent to an adjuster assigned to your claim and should contact you in a few days.  If you do not hear from an adjuster contact the company again and ask for the adjusters information so you can contact them.

  • Document damages to your property

Make sure to separate your damaged and undamaged personal belongings.  Your adjuster will need evidence of damage to your home and personal belongings to prepare your repair estimate.  Taking video and pictures will help as evidence of damages made to your property.  Photographs should include damaged property, structural damage to your home and flood water levels.  Make a list of all damaged items and include in that purchase date, cost of item and any receipts you may have on hand.  Remember if you do not have receipts and you paid with a credit card you can always look at your statements.  Place flooded items outside of your home for appropriate disposal with your insurers approval.  Do not start throwing everything away as the adjuster may need to see items.

  • Complete a proof of loss to support your claim

A Proof of Loss sworn statement will need to be filed by you within 60 days of the flood.  You will need to send supporting documents with the proof of loss as it is required before payment can be made.  Keep in mind that it will take longer to process claims and receive payment due to the severity of damages caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Other important notes:

  • It is important to remember that standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Homeowners policies cover damages to your home from rain but not homes filled with water from rising bodies of water.
  • If damages to your home caused by Hurricane Harvey has made your home uninhabitable make other living arrangements.  Make sure to keep all receipts including hotel, transportation and meals.  If you have wind coverage in your home policy you are eligible for reimbursement for additional living expenses.
  • To protect your property from further damage make temporary repairs.  Save receipts for temporary repairs made as you can submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.  Keep in mind payments for temporary repairs are part of the total settlement.  Beware of contractors asking for large amount of money up front for repairs.  Do not hire contractors whose repair bids are as their work could be shabby.  Do not make extensive permanent repairs until the claims adjuster has assessed the damage.