Floods can be devastating to homes and businesses. Even a few inches of water can lead to thousands of dollars in structural repairs, toxic mold growth, lost inventory, and destroyed personal belongings. Anyone who has experienced flood damage knows that acting quickly is crucial after a flood; your first 24 hours after sustaining flood damage are crucial. It’s important to know the most common legal issues arising from flood damage and the best first steps to take to address it.
One of the most common safety nets for flood damage victims is insurance coverage. Both residential and commercial property owners must carry some property damage insurance coverage. Any policyholder should fully understand the terms and scope of coverage in a policy before agreeing to it. Homeowners insurance and other types of property insurance typically stipulate the types of damage they cover.
For example, a policy may offer “Fire Damage Protection,” but under the fine print you may find that it protects against fire damage from accidents like cooking mishaps, but not wildfire damage. If you live in a dry area prone to wildfires, this policy would likely be ineffective for you.
Flood insurance coverage often works in a similar way. For example, the flood coverage section of a policy may state that the policy covers flood damage from broken appliances, burst pipes, and other internal causes of flooding, but not flooding from natural disasters. The most common legal issue facing flood damage victims after a flood is a problem with insurance coverage or an insurer denying coverage for a flood based on the terms of the policy.
There are several things homeowners and business owners should do in the first 24 hours after a flood to stand the best chance of financial recovery. These include:
An attorney can help a property owner determine his or her legal options after a flood, handle problems with difficult insurance companies, and explore additional options for recovery beyond the scope of insurance coverage.