National Flood Insurance Program Flood Insurance Claims Handbook FEMA F

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National Flood Insurance Program Flood Insurance Claims Handbook FEMA F Powered By Docstoc
					                  National Flood Insurance Program

                  Flood Insurance
                  Claims Handbook

F-687   (07-05)
Thank you for protecting
yourself through the National
Flood Insurance Program

                                                       Table of Contents

Purchasing flood insurance is a wise decision for      What To Do Before A Flood    _______________________________________________________________0
the home or business owner. Like homeowners’
                                                          Check Your Policy ___________________________________ 02
insurance, it’s protection you hope you never
have to use. But if flooding occurs, you will be                                           _____________________ 0
                                                          Prepare Lists And Documentation ______________________0 2

protected as outlined in the details of your policy.                               ______________________________o
                                                          Secure Important Papers ______________________________ 3

This claims guide was created by the Federal                                            __________________________0
                                                          Talk To Your Insurance Agent __________________________ 3
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which                                            ___________________________0
                                                          Plan An Emergency Contact ___________________________ 3
oversees the National Flood Insurance Program,
to help you through the process of filing a claim      What To Do After A Flood    _________________________________________________________________04
                                                                                  __________________________________________________________________ 0

and appealing the decision on your claim,                                            ____________________________0
                                                          Steps to Take Immediately ____________________________ 0 4
if necessary.
                                                          Handling Your Claim ________________________________ 05
While every effort has been made to make sure the                            ___________________________________ 0
                                                          Filing Your Claim ____________________________________0 6
information in this handbook is correct, you should
refer to your policy and its Declarations Page         Addressing Questions About Your Insurance Claim                          ____________________08
                                                                                                                                 ___________________ 0

for specific information on coverage, limitations,                                            ___________________ 0
                                                          Four Steps To Appealing Your Claim ____________________0 8
restrictions and deductibles.

        TIP               What To Do Before A Flood                                                                                                    TIP

• When you gather         Don’t wait until waters are rising in your area and    SECURE IMPORTANT PAPERS                                      • If flooding is
  your insurance          flood threatens. Take steps now that will make your                                                                   imminent, the
  papers for safe-
                                                                                 Originals of important insurance papers should                 number one rule
                          life much easier when a flood occurs.                  be kept in a safe place, preferably in a bank safe deposit
  keeping, also gather                                                                                                                          in a flood is to keep
  any other important                                                            box. Be sure your papers include contact information           yourself safe.
  papers such as                                                                 for your agent or company, important receipts, your
                                                                                                                                              • If waters rise in your
  deeds or stock          CHECK YOUR POLICY                                      flood insurance policy and documentation on your               house before you
  certificates that you                                                          personal property and contents of your home. Keep
                          Make sure all the information is correct, including                                                                   can leave safely,
  may be keeping in                                                              copies in your home or business in the safest, most
                          information about your mortgage company. If you have                                                                  move to the highest
  the house.
                          refinanced with a company other than the one shown     accessible place possible that is not subject to flooding.     level necessary—
• Since flood                                                                                                                                   even the roof. Take
  insurance renews        on your policy, call your insurance agent or company   Having this detailed documentation will make filing            extra clothing, your
  annually, make it       representative immediately.                            your claim much easier. If floodwaters actually carry          radio, a flashlight
  a point to update                                                              away your property, this list and the photos/receipts          and, if possible,
  your documentation                                                             will be important to documenting your loss.                    food.
  and papers at
                                                                                                                                              • If you have time, turn
  renewal time. Also,
                             Prepare Lists and Documentation                     TALK TO YOUR INSURANCE AGENT                                   off electricity at your
  call your agent
                                                                                 Call your insurance agent or company representative            breaker or fuse box
  annually to make           If you’ve purchased contents coverage,                                                                             and close the main
  sure loss reporting        make it a priority to make a detailed list of       and discuss the particular requirements for reporting
                                                                                                                                                gas valve; get
  procedures have            your home or business’s contents and/or your        a flood claim. These can vary from company to                  valuables (furs,
  not changed.                                                                   company, so knowing how to proceed can save a lot
                             personal property. Include:                                                                                        jewelry, important
• Move any valuable                                                              of effort later.                                               papers) to a higher
  items out of your              Date and place of purchase                                                                                     level; fill bathtubs,
  basement. Flood                                                                Remember, after a flood it may be difficult to get             sinks and plastic
  insurance only covers          Model number                                    in touch with your agent or insurance company. Power           soda bottles with
  items normally found                                                           and phone service may be interrupted, or phone lines           water. (Sanitize tubs
  in a basement, such            Serial number (for large appliances)            may be overwhelmed with other callers. It will benefit         and sinks with
  as a furnace or                                                                you to know just what to do in advance of flooding.            bleach, rinse and
  washer and dryer.              Descriptions                                                                                                   then fill); and bring
  Personal items are                                                                                                                            outdoor possessions
  not covered.                   Original purchase costs                         PLAN AN EMERGENCY CONTACT                                      (lawn furniture, grills,
                                 (with receipts, if possible)                    After a flood, you may be unable to stay in your               etc) inside or tie
• Create an
                                                                                 home or to be contacted at your home address                   them down securely.
  emergency kit, with            Photos or video of your home’s interior
  a large flashlight, a                                                          and phone number. Share an emergency contact—                • Keep away from
  battery powered
                                 and your personal property                      address and phone number—with your insurance                   downed power lines
  radio, spare                                                                   agent and family so you can be reached.                        and any other
  batteries, candles,                                                                                                                           electrical wires—
  waterproof matches,                                                                                                                           electrocution is
  etc. Even if you                                                                                                                              always a major
  never experience                                                                                                                              cause of death in
  a flood, you’ll be                                                                                                                            floods.
  glad to have this kit
  in a power outage.

   2                                                                                                                                                              3
         TIP               What To Do After A Flood                                                                                                      NOTE

• After a flood, even      A flood is an overwhelming experience. But taking                                                                       • Any advance
                                                                                            STEP 4
  if your house seems      quick action will put you back in control of your                                                                         payment will be part
  safe to enter,                                                                                                                                     of your total claim
                           home and your life.                                           List Areas of Structural Damage: As you look over your
  be cautious.                                                                                                                                       for Building Property
                                                                                         property, make a list of any areas of structural damage     and/or Personal
• If you hear hissing                                                                    you want to point out to the insurance adjuster.            Property damage.
  or smell gas, leave
                           STEPS TO TAKE IMMEDIATELY                                                                                                 Your policy does not
  immediately and call
                                                                                         HANDLING YOUR CLAIM                                         provide coverage for
  the gas company.            STEP 1                                                                                                                 temporary living
  Using your home                                                                                WO R K I N G W I T H YO U R A D J U S T E R         expenses or housing.
  phone or cell phone      Contact Your Agent or Company Representative to Report Your                                                               Only direct physical
  inside the house         Loss: Have ready—the name of your insurance                   Generally, your adjuster will contact you within 24-48      damage from
  could spark an           company, policy number and a phone number and/or              hours after receiving your notice of loss. However,         flooding is covered.
  explosion.                                                                             depending on local conditions and the severity of
                           e-mail address where you can be reached. All flood                                                                      • Your policy requires
• Keep power off           insurance policies require you to give prompt written         flooding, it may take more time.                            that you cooperate
  until an electrician     notice of loss. If you get in touch with your agent or        Once the adjuster reaches you, a time will be set for       with your adjuster
  has inspected
                           company representative directly, they will advise you         the adjuster to view your property.You may ask the          before, during and
  your system.
                           how to file your notice of claim. Otherwise, you must                                                                     after the “scoping.”
                                                                                         adjuster for an advance or partial payment. If you have
• If sewer and water       send a written notice to your insurance company with                                                                      You should also
  lines are damaged,                                                                     a mortgage, your mortgage company will need to sign         be aware that an
                           your policy number.                                           the Building Property advance check.
  don’t use toilets or                                                                                                                               adjuster cannot
  sinks. Call a                                                                                                                                      approve (or
  plumber. Until told         STEP 2                                                                                                                 disapprove) your
                                                                                                        “ S C O P I N G ” YO U R L O S S
  the water supply is                                                                                                                                claim, or tell you
  safe, boil water for 5
                           Separate Your Property: Your policy also requires             During the initial visit to your property, the adjuster     when or if the
  minutes before           you to separate damaged property from undamaged               will take measurements and photographs and note             insurance company
  drinking it              property. But don’t throw anything away before an             direct flood damage. This is called “scoping” a loss.       will approve it.
  or preparing food.       adjuster has seen it, unless local law requires you                                                                       Recovering from
                           to. In that case, take photos of the property before          Be assured that your adjuster will be an experienced        a flood is very
• Throw away
  water-damaged            disposing of it and keep samples for the adjuster             claims professional and will notice many points of          stressful for home
                           to see. (For example, cut out a piece of wall-to-wall         damage you could overlook. However, you are                 or business owners,
  foods, including
                                                                                                                                                     but by cooperating
  canned goods.            carpet.) Do all you can to protect undamaged property.        encouraged to point out all damage you have noticed.        with your adjuster,
                                                                                         After the “scope” is finished, the adjuster will give       your claim can be
                              STEP 3                                                                                                                 processed more
                                                                                         you a local contact telephone number and will tell
                                                                                                                                                     smoothly and
                           Make a List of Damaged Contents: If you’ve purchased          you whether any additional visits are needed.               efficiently.
                           contents coverage, make a list of damaged property.           (This may be the case if damage is extensive.)
                           If you prepared comprehensive lists before the flood,
                           this should be relatively easy. List the quantity of each            P R E PA R I N G A D E TA I L E D E S T I M AT E
                           item, a description, brand name, where purchased,
                                                                                         The adjuster then uses the knowledge gained from the
                           its cost, model and serial number (if appropriate)
                           and your estimate of the loss amount. Attach your             visit(s)—and the documentation you have provided—
                           bills, receipts, photos and any other documents.              to complete a detailed estimate of damages.You will get
                                                                                         a copy. Use it as a guide when you ask for bids for
                                                                                         repair work from licensed professional contractors.
   4                                                                                                                                                                 5
                          FILING YOUR CLAIM
        TIP                                                                                                                                            NOTE
                              FILING YOUR CLAIM REQUIRES A PROOF OF LOSS                 F I L I N G YO U R S U P P L E M E N TA L C L A I M

                          Your official claim for damages is called a Proof of      If you notice additional damage to your Building
• Get a small             Loss. This must be fully completed and signed and         Property or Personal Property after filing your             • A Supplemental
  notebook and use it     in the hands of your insurance company within 60          claim, you may file a Supplemental Claim. This means,         Claim, like your
  to track all your                                                                                                                               original claim,
  contacts. That way,
                          days after the loss occurs.                               essentially, that you must repeat the documentation and       must be filed within
  you will easily have                                                              filing process for your original claim, including a Proof     60 days after the
                          The Proof of Loss includes a detailed estimate to
  all records in one                                                                of Loss—but only for the newly discovered damage.             loss. If you discover
                          replace or repair the damaged property. In most cases,
  place.                                                                                                                                          additional damage
                          the adjuster, as a courtesy, will provide you with a      Supplemental Claims should start with immediately             after the 60-day limit
• In the event you        suggested Proof of Loss. However, you are responsible     notifying your adjuster, agent and/or company                 has passed, contact
  have a further flood,
  you will need copies
                          for making sure that it is complete, accurate and filed   representative. Once you have completed                       your adjuster
                          in a timely manner.                                       documentation, present it to your adjuster who may            immediately. Claims
  of your receipts and
                                                                                    need to make another property visit to verify your loss.      filed after 60 days
  documentation for       Be sure to keep a copy of the Proof of Loss—and                                                                         are decided on a
  all repairs and
                          copies of all supporting documents—for your records.                                                                    case-by-case basis.
  replacements for
  this prior loss.
                                   E X T E N S I O N S B E YO N D 6 0 DAY S              The Completed Claim
                                                                                         Once you receive final payment for your
                          In some severe floods, FEMA may authorize Proof
                                                                                         building and/or personal property, the claims
                          of Loss extensions for everyone in your area.
                                                                                         process is complete.
                          Your insurance company will be notified, as will local
                          news outlets.                                                  Please remember:
                                                                                         Any claim settlement you make in the event
                                         PAY M E N T O F C L A I M S                     of a flood will be determined by the amount
                                                                                         of coverage you have and the deductibles you
                          Your claim is payable after:                                   have chosen. If you are concerned that your
                          • You and the insurer agree on the amount of damages.          coverage is not high enough, or that your
                                                                                         deductibles are too high, your agent or
                          • The insurer receives your complete, accurate and             company representative can counsel you
                            signed Proof of Loss.                                        about increasing coverage and/or decreasing
                          More information on claims payment is in your policy.          deductibles.


                          Any check for building property must include
                          your mortgage company name, or the name of the
                          individual holding your mortgage. A check for
                          Personal Property will usually be in your name only.

   6                                                                                                                                                               7
                                                                                                Write to:    Federal Emergency Management

                           Addressing Questions About                                                        Agency-Mitigation Division-Room 433
                                                                                                             Risk Insurance Branch
                           Your Insurance Claim                                                              ATTN: Director of Claims
                                                                                                             500 C Street, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20472

• At each step, you        The NFIP provides you with a process to appeal                       This letter should be written by the Named Insured (as it       • Please do not
  should keep clear        decisions regarding your flood insurance claim.                      appears on your NFIP policy) or by a legal representative, if     send originals of
  records of your          This process will help you resolve claim issues,                     necessary. The representative should clearly identify his/her     documents such
  attempts to resolve                                                                                                                                             as contractor’s
  issues. Write down       but it cannot give you added coverage or claim                       relationship to the Named Insured. (For example, a son or         estimates. Send
  the names and titles     limits beyond those in your NFIP policy.                             daughter could be handling a claim for an elderly parent.)        photocopies and
  of people you speak                                                                           A legal representative may be asked to provide authorization      keep originals in
  with; dates of           In filing and completing your insurance claim, you                                                                                     a safe place.
  contact; contact
                                                                                                from the Named Insured or other legal documents verifying         Your claim will be
                           may have questions, or need further explanations of                  the relationship.
  information; and                                                                                                                                                reviewed and you
  details of the           decisions that have been made, especially with regard                                                                                  will be informed
  discussion. If you       to coverage, dollar amount of damages, or your Proof                      W H AT T O I N C L U D E I N YO U R L E T T E R              of FEMA’s finding
  have to go further       of Loss.                                                                                                                               directly, with a copy
  in appealing your                                                                             The following six items should be in your letter to FEMA          going to your
  claim, these records     FOUR STEPS TO APPEALING YOUR CLAIM                                   in order to address your questions. (If for some reason,          insurance company.
  can be vitally                                                                                your policy is not available; your insurance agent can            If you do not agree
  important.                  STEP 1                                                            provide details for the first three items.)                       with the final
                                                                                                                                                                  decision, please
• Every effort has been    Talk with your adjuster, who has more knowledge                      1. The Policy Number, as shown on your NFIP policy’s
                                                                                                                                                                  refer to your flood
  made to ensure that      about your claim than anyone. If you don’t understand                   Declarations Page.                                             insurance policy.
  the information                                                                               2. The policyholder’s name, as shown as the Named
                           certain decisions regarding, for example, application                                                                                  See the GENERAL
  provided here is
  accurate. However,       of coverage, timing of the filing of Proof of Loss,                     Insured on the Declarations Page.                              CONDITIONS, R.
                           or the damage estimate, contact your adjuster first.                 3. The property address, as shown on the Declarations             Suit Against Us.
  your Standard Flood
  Insurance Policy                                                                                 Page. (Not your mailing address, if it is different from
  (SFIP), your                STEP 2                                                               the property address.)
  application, any                                                                              4. How you can be contacted, if you are out of your home.
                           If you are not satisfied with the adjuster’s answers,
  endorsements, and
  the Declarations         or do not agree with decisions, get contact                          5. The details of your concern.
  Page comprise the        information for the adjuster’s supervisor.                              (Please be as complete as possible.)
  official Policy or                                                                            6. The dates of contact and contact details for the persons
  contract of insurance.      STEP 3
                                                                                                   with whom you have spoken in steps one through three.
  Any differences
  between the
                           If the adjuster’s supervisor can’t resolve your issues,
                           contact the insurance company’s claim representative.                   W H AT T O I N C L U D E W I T H YO U R L E T T E R
  information and
  wording in this          Ask your insurance agent or your insurance company                   Enclose documentation of everything that supports your
  handbook will be         representative for assistance.                                       appeal. This may include:
  resolved in favor of
                           Please refer to your flood policy for more information on appeals.   • A detailed list of damaged property and the value
  your flood insurance
  policy. If you have      See Section 7 of General Conditions, Paragraph R.                      of individual items;
  questions, please                                                                             • Supporting photographs and/or;
  refer to your policy,       STEP 4
  or call your insurance                                                                        • A contractor’s detailed estimate to repair damages,
                           If you still have questions or concerns after following
  agent or company                                                                                with supporting photographs. (Comparing contractor
  representative.          steps one through three, contact the Federal
                                                                                                  and adjuster estimates in detail will help resolve
                           Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
   8                                                                                                                                                                               9