Eleven years later, and the people of Louisiana are dealing with more flooding, a disaster which the Red Cross says is the worst since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
The Red Cross expects the relief effort to take several months, with flood damage affecting tens of thousands of homes and businesses.
“This is everything we worked for, everything gone right in front of your eyes,” Austin Schexnayder, a home builder and homeowner in the town of Denham Springs told CNN.
Adding to the pain: Schexnayder’s insurance company told him his home wasn’t in a flood plain, so he never sought flood insurance. When he talked to his insurer after the flooding, they told him his policy wouldn’t cover the damage to his home.
This is a lesson that many flood victims – in Louisiana and elsewhere – learn the hard way. Regular homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover flooding. If you live in a region where hurricanes, tropic storms and other heavy rain events are common, you’ll need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy.
It wasn’t always this way. In 1968, the federal government created the National Flood Insurance Program to handle all flood insurance. It’s made the process of filing a flood damage claim difficult, at least for the average homeowner.
Here’s how the NFIP defines a flood:
- A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land area or of 2 or more properties (at least 1 of which is the policyholder’s property) from:
o Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or
o Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or
o Mudflow; or
- Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above.
If you do have flood coverage, you have a lot of work ahead of you.
the Louisiana Department of Insurance suggests taking the following steps in the wake of a flood:
- Notify your insurer so the claims process can begin. Make sure they have a way to contact you at all times. An adjuster should get in touch with you within a few days of filing your claim. If you don’t hear from an adjuster, contact your insurance company again.
- Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage to your home and possessions in order to put together a repair estimate. Take photos of damaged property, including structural damage, standing floodwater levels and any possessions you’ll need to discard.
- Make a list of any items that have been damaged or lost. You should include their date of purchase, their value, and – if possible – their receipts. Separate damaged items from undamaged items by putting the damaged things outside your home.
- Complete a proof of loss to support your claim. This document is a requirement for any payment by the NFIP. In events like the floods in Louisiana, it may take longer to process claims and receive payment because of the sheer number of people who have been flooded.
You’re not mistaken in thinking this all sounds like a lot to process. But you don’t have to handle this on your own. A licensed public adjuster – like the ones at Interstate Public Adjusters – will work for you to make sure you get the maximum settlement for your property.
We are trained to estimate the full reach of all damage and value your claim accordingly. We’re also skilled at helping homeowners avoid the obstacles an insurance company might put in the path of your claim.
As we always say, we hope you’ll never have cause to contact us. But if a flood like the one in Louisiana does hit your home, remember that we can help you recover.