When Your Living Room Becomes a Lake…

Your home is underwater, and it’s not about its market value. Literally, your home has been consumed by floodwaters. Now what?

Whether the cause is a broken pipe, a storm, or a flooded river, take the following three steps in this order.

Stay safe: It may be tempting to rush in to salvage your belongings, but water can create hazardous conditions. Check for a weakened structure as well as damage to gas or electric lines. It might be extremely dangerous to walk on cracked floors or wade through standing water near electrical shorts. If you even suspect the property is unsafe, don’t enter. If you can safely turn off electrical sources and/or gas, do it before you go in.

Document everything: Take photos (or a video) of the damage before draining the water, removing items, or making repairs. For insurance purposes, it will help to have an accurate depiction of the extent of the damage.

Contact your insurance provider: Notify your agent as soon as possible. Some flood damage is not covered by typical homeowners insurance policies. Communicate with your provider to discover what, if any, coverage is available. Let them know of any repairs you intend to make. Your agent can advise you if you need to wait for an adjuster to inspect your property first. If you do make repairs, document the process with pictures and receipts.

Throughout this process, it’s important to stay in touch with your insurance provider, particularly if yours is not the only property impacted by a flood.

The insurance company can also provide contact information for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will be an important source of information if your flood is part of a wider problem. Should your region be declared an official “disaster area” by the government, you may receive additional financial assistance.

Check with your insurance company for information about these and other resources.