What to do after a flood

image001In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many people along the East Coast who were affected by the superstorm filed homeowner’s insurance claims for the first time. But once residents sent in their requests for financial relief, some were surprised to learn that their policies didn’t include flood insurance.

With this in mind, ABC News recently spoke with insurance expert Judith Spry about flood insurance and the most important things homeowners and renters should know about it.

Check if floods are covered under policy
Reviewing one’s current home insurance plan is the best way for policyholders to know if they have proper coverage. Flood insurance is not a standard part of homeowner’s coverage, which means that if people want to be protected, they’ll need to purchase it separately.

But should residents and business owners already have a plan in place and their affected by flooding, they should try to start the claims process as soon as possible, Spry noted. Generally, the more they know about their policies, the quicker things can get going. Spry told the news source that policyholders should have their policy number and contact information at the ready when they first contact their insurers.

Separate what’s been damaged from belongings
Spry notes that claimants should closely investigate all their belongings that may have been impacted and to separate them from the rest so that they can be analyzed by the claims adjuster. Knowing when the items were purchased and for how much can make the claims process move more quickly, but these pieces of information are not mandatory.

The claims process will also be quite formalized, Spry indicates, as adjusters will supply policyholders with something called a Proof of Loss form. This is where the claimant lists all the things that were damaged. It should then be sent in to the insurer within 60 days of the flooding incident.

As many flood victims may attest, the financial cost of flooding can be considerable, making flood insurance a crucial resource. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a web tool that homeowners and business owners can use to estimate the expense of flooding should their dwelling places be affected. Click here to launch the interactive tool.