WASHINGTON — The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) today offers recovery advice to those who are in the process of assessing the damage to their homes and businesses, following the devastating flooding in Ellicott City this weekend.
“PCI encourages residents and business owners to take a thorough approach in assessing their home, business, and automobile damage,” said Nancy Egan, PCI’s state government relations counsel. “If you have any damage, contact your insurance company or agent as soon as possible to start the claims process.”
PCI encourages policyholders to review the following tips and information if flood loss has occurred.
Storm Recovery Tips:
Secure property from further damage or theft.
Contact your insurance agent or company representative as soon as possible to report damage.
Inventory losses and photograph damage to provide to your insurance adjustor. Save receipts.
If you are a business owner, keep detailed records of business activity that is negatively affected due to the flood and keep a list of extra expenses during the interruption. Prepare records to show the income from the business before and after the loss.
Many standard homeowners and renters policies provide reimbursement of additional living expenses when the property is determined to be uninhabitable due to the damage. This provision helps with paying for increases to necessary living expenses, such as temporary housing and restaurant meals. In addition, extra expenses, such as overnight parking and laundry services may also be covered. Additional living expense coverage does not pay for all living expenses, so contact your insurance company or agent for a list of what your policy will cover.
Be careful about unscrupulous contractors following a natural disaster. Contact your insurer, agent, or local business bureau for references on potential contractors and ask for certificates of liability and workers’ compensation before signing contracts.
Be prepared to list the “replacement cost” of each item and its actual cash value. Replacement cost is what it would cost today to replace an item with another one just like it. Actual cash value is what the item is really worth after deducting for depreciation and wear.
“Beware of unscrupulous contractors following the flooding. PCI highly recommends contacting your insurer, agent, or local business bureau for references and asking for certificates of liability and workers’ compensation before signing any contractors to perform repair work on your home, business, or automobile,” added Egan.
What to do if you have Flooding Damage:
Shovel or scrape the mud off your floors, furniture, and walls before the mud drives. Then hose down the walls with clean water, starting from the ceiling.
Major appliances, such as refrigerators and stoves, can be washed and dried completely. In most cases, they will not be damaged unless they were operating at the time the water covered them.
Diluted chlorine bleach can be used to clean household items, appliances, wall, and floors. This also will help control odors.
Wood furniture should be dried outdoors, but not in direct sunlight. Remove drawers and other moving parts before they dry.
A flooded basement should be pumped gradually to prevent structural damage. Pump out about a third of the water per day.
Water and electricity make for a dangerous combination. Take the proper precautions to avoid electric shock.
Food utensils and equipment should be washed thoroughly and sterilized before you use them. Any food that is open and exposes to flood waters should be discarded.
Recovering from flooding is always a challenging task, but there are resources available to help consumers. The Federal Emergency Management Agency can be contacted at 800-621-3362 or www.fema.gov and consumers who have flood insurance policies through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can contact either their flood insurance agent or the NFIP at (888) 379-9531 or www.floodsmart.gov.
For contractor advice, and you may contact the Maryland Home Improvement Commission or refer to PCI’s contractor fraud tips.
You may also consult the list of PCI member company Toll-Free Policyholder Claim Phone Numbers.