How to File a Flood Insurance Claim

After the Flood

Contact your insurance company or agent as soon as possible after the flood.

Tell them you have suffered a loss and will be filing a claim. When you report to your insurance representative or agent, remind him or her to assign the claim to a National Flood Insurance Flood Program (NFIP) approved claims adjuster.

If you are unable to stay in your home, make sure to tell your insurance company representative or agent where you can be reached.

Working with a Claims Adjuster

Insurance companies employ adjusters to help people who have suffered losses in establishing the benefits due them under their insurance policies. Your claim will be assigned to an adjuster, who will either be an insurance company employee or an independent adjuster hired by the company. Your adjuster will inform you of the steps you need to take to file your claim. The adjuster will also provide you with any required forms.

Work with the adjuster; his or her job is to assist you and review your claim. The adjuster will inspect your itemized list of damaged and/or destroyed property. The adjuster will work with you to calculate the value of the items on the list. He or she will also prepare a repair estimate of damage to the property.

Take Steps to Protect Your Property

Make temporary repairs to protect property from further damage. Keep receipts of what you paid for temporary repairs and include it with your flood insurance claim. Permanent repairs must wait until the claims adjuster has had a chance to review the damage.

Itemizing Your Possessions

Clean-up should begin as soon as the flood waters recede. When it is safe to enter your home, go room to room and separate damaged from undamaged items. Separate and dry wet items, such as clothing and linens. Often, these items can be restored by cleaning or making minor repairs.

Make a detailed list of all damaged or lost personal property. Take photos of any water in the house. Save damaged personal property, and take photos or a videotape of it. Do not throw out any damaged property without your adjuster's agreement.

Obtain a Repair or Replacement Estimate

In most cases, adjusters who routinely handle property losses are capable of estimating simple building losses. They are able to complete their own estimates and settle on these estimates, sometimes on the first call.

When the adjuster visits the site to inspect the damage, make sure you or a trusted adviser are there to work with the adjuster.

When working with the adjuster, it is important that you both come to an agreement about the "scope of damage," meaning an agreement about what needs to be repaired or replaced - without a dollar amount.

Make sure that the claims adjuster fully explains, and that you fully understand, all allowances and procedures for processing claim payments on the basis of your proof of loss. The flood insurance policy requires you to send a detailed proof of loss within 60 days after the loss.

Any and all coverage problems and claim allowance restrictions must be communicated directly from the insurance company. Claims adjusters are not authorized to approve or deny claims; their job is to report to the insurance company on the elements of flood cause and damage.

Take Charge of Your Claim

Using the above information, you can manage your claim so that you receive the insurance benefits due you and have your home and possessions restored successfully. But if a major problem arises, you have other sources of assistance. You can consult your insurance agent or local company representative. If you do not get satisfactory answers from the agent or company you may call the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) at 1-800-236-8517. The OCI investigates complaints to determine if any insurance laws have been violated. If so, the office may take actions against the agent or company involved.