Flooding is the most common naturally occurring disaster in the United States. Most insureds are unaware that the terms of their standard homeowners insurance policy fails to include coverage for damage associated with flood water until it is too late. It is important to prepare yourself for a flood- related loss and to make sure that you understand the basic terms of coverage offered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). A standard flood insurance policy includes coverage for flood-related damage to one’s Dwelling Structure, Contents/Personal Property, and Increased Cost of Compliance. There must be a physical change in the condition of one’s property directly attributable to flood in order to trigger coverage under the terms of the National Flood Insurance Program’s Standard Dwelling Policy.
Make sure that you speak to an insurance agent who is familiar with the NFIP so that you obtain the best coverage available well in advance of a flood event. In order to maximize your chances of receiving full coverage under your flood policy, take precautions in advance of a storm to document the pre-loss condition of your residence and contents/personal property. Take photographs of the interior and exterior of your home and be sure to adequately establish the value of your contents and personal property. Include serial numbers for any electronics and valuable personal property and scan any original receipts that may be prone to loss or damage during a flood event.
Once a flood event occurs, obtain a line item contractor estimate for the repair of your damaged residential property caused by flood and organize any invoices and/or receipts for any mitigation and/or remediation work performed at the insured location. The more that you are able to document the scope of your loss, the better your chances will be for maximizing your recovery with the NFIP. Pay close attention to any relevant deadline for submitting a Sworn Proof of Loss as a typical flood claim only allows you up to sixty (60) days from date of the flood event to submit your Sworn Proof of Loss to your insurance company for consideration of your claim. In addition, keep track of any correspondence received from your insurance company since you only have one year from the date of a denial letter to file suit in the federal district court governing your claim. Once you file a lawsuit, you will be entitled to a bench trial with a federal judge. Jury trials are not permitted under the terms of the flood program.
Jason M. Ciofalo has represented flood victims in Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and New Jersey. Ciofalo has well over thirteen (13) years of experience in dealing with first party property insurance claims, and he has provided assistance to hundreds of claimants stemming from flood associated with Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi, Hurricane Ike in Texas, and Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey.
Protecting the Rights of Insureds and Claimants