Flood: Understanding and Recovering from One of Nature's Worst Disasters

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...all other hardwood floors. The adjuster may very well mark the flooring down as oak, which is half the value of walnut. Once that estimate is on paper, it is extremely difficult to change. In some cases the insurance company will amend the mistake, but many times the claim will need to go to Appraisal, which can take weeks, months or years. It is wise to avoid this situation by being present with the adjusters during inspections and encouraging them to represent the losses accurately.

An apartment building in Grand Forks, North Dakota, provides a good example of how difficult it can be to change an adjuster’s opinion. The building’s electric baseboard heating units in the basement were flooded. Furnaces are covered in basements under all flood policies; however, the adjuster would not grant coverage, saying it was not a furnace because electric baseboard was not specified in the policy. FEMA’s definition of a furnace is a device that produces heat. FEMA agreed that electric baseboard falls under this definition and should be covered. The adjuster felt his interpretation was still correct, disagreed with FEMA, and refused to grant coverage. Only after a new adjuster was assigned to the loss, did the insurance company pay for the claim.

Continuous Flooding

Another issue to consider when discussing flood insurance is continuous lake flooding. When a building is inundated by rising lake waters for 90 days or more and continuation seems likely to damage the building to a degree equal to or greater than the policy limits plus the deductible, the insurer may pay the full policy amount without waiting for further damage. To do this, the insured needs to sign a release agreeing to make no further claim under the policy, not seek renewal of the policy, and not apply for any flood insurance under NFIP for property at that location.

Conclusion

Overall, the National Flood Insurance Program is a very fair and necessary program that helps many homeowners and business owners recover from what would otherwise be uninsured losses, since standard insurance policies do not cover flood losses. Important things to remember about flood insurance are:

For information on flood insurance and copies of current policies, con-tact FEMA or visit www.fema.gov.

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