Here are some tips and things to be aware of when it comes to flooding
After a flood, you may be dealing with many problems with your home, including loss of valuables and damage to your property. Here are some steps to follow that will help you get your insurance claim process moving in the right direction:
1. Contact your insurance company claims hotline or your agent to report your claim. Make sure you have your policy number and any other relevant information readily available.
2. Take steps to protect your property and prevent further loss. One way to stop more damage is to find out where the water is coming in at before you proceed with clean up.
3. Document your losses by taking pictures or videos of the damaged items. Be sure to keep the items until the insurance company instructs you.
4. If your coverage is issued through the National Flood Insurance Program you should contactwww.floodsmart.gov for further information.
Once you file a claim with your insurance company, they will assign an adjuster to evaluate your loss. Insurance companies hire their own adjusters, and they will evaluate your claim on behalf of the insurance company in accordance with your policy language. Public adjusters offer their services for a fee to policyholders and others who want help with getting their claims paid by the insurance company. If you decide to hire a public adjuster, you should keep the following in mind:
1. Public adjusters cannot charge you more than 10% of the settlement amount paid by the insurance company.
2. All public adjusters must be licensed through DIFS and must use a contract approved by DIFS.
3. You are not required to hire your own adjuster. If you do decide to hire a public adjuster, make sure they are properly licensed through DIFS’ License Locator.
During disasters, scam artists will try to charge you more for your problem then they legally are supposed to. If you are approached by an individual claiming they can provide you with assistance, you should be cautious. Scam artists have been known to:
1. Charge a large fee, and then disappear without ever handling your claim.
2. Refer your repair to a dishonest contractor, and you may receive unfit repairs in return. You should always verify the licenses of your repair contractor.
3. File false and inflated claims against your policy.
4. Use their position to access your Social Security number and other personal data for scams involving identity theft.
5. Appear on the scene claiming that they can help you qualify for financial relief for a “processing fee.”
6. Disguise themselves as safety inspectors or utility repairmen.
Something else you want to keep an eye out for is people going through your belongings while you are trying to clean up. Some communities are starting to enforce rules prohibiting the pickup of garbage during flood clean up. Hazel Park and Royal Oak are just two of the cities that say once trash hits the curb, it belongs to the city, and any violators will be subject to fines and may even be arrested. Here are some tips on how to keep scrappers off your property:
1. Items that you plan on saving, keep close to your home. Either up against the front of your house or even in your backyard.
2. Any belongings you do plan to toss do it the night before garbage day or the day of, this way scrappers will not have a chance to see the items you are getting rid of.
3. If you have a problem with people picking through your belongings, call your local police as soon as possible to make sure they get the violator to stop.
With many left with their vehicles on the side of roads or on highways, people are calling towing companies left and right. What you may not know, is that some of these companies are over charging you, or scamming you. To protect yourself from inflated towing fees and fraud, make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for, who you’re working with, and what your insurance company will cover. Here are some things to consider:
1. Know what your insurance policy covers. See if you have roadside assistance coverage and what the limits are.
2. If you do need a towing service, don’t deal with a towing operator who arrives on the scene unsolicited.
3. Don’t let a towing operator take your vehicle until you receive a printed price or invoice. The price should list towing fees, daily storage fees (if any), and all other miscellaneous charges.
4. Before letting them take off with your car, make sure you know where your car is being towed to.
5. Make sure the company name on the truck matches the documentation.
6. Don’t give out any personal information.
7. Be wary of giving out too much insurance information. Some bandit tow operators use this information for additional scams, like calling the victim and pretending to be their insurer.
8. If you suspect fraud or if the tow truck driver refuses to leave, call the police immediately.
The next time you purchase a house, or you want to make sure your current home will not flood again, there are some steps you can take to make sure your home does not have any flooding issues. Some of the steps you can take include:
1. Look at a flood map of your city, and see if the area your home is located is in a flood zone, which means in an area where flooding is more likely to occur.
2. Stay on top of cleaning your gutters, drains and downspouts and make sure they drain at least 6 inches away from your home.
3. One-way valves on drainage pipes decrease the risk of sewage backing up during a flood.
4. Pump and sump systems, which drain water from below floor level faster than it rises.
5. Make sure there are no cracks or openings in any windows or doors.