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Basement or Foundation Insurance Claims Step-by-Step

Basement or foundation flooding damage can be hazardous to your family's finances and health. Here are the critical steps to take when filing homeowner's insurance claims.

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Dealing with basement flooding or foundation damage can be quite challenging. Then there’s filing a claim with your homeowner’s insurance company. 

We’ve got you covered when preparing to avoid basement or crawl space flooding. This article should also have you covered in taking the necessary steps for filing an insurance claim should flooding occur.

Safety First

Before we get into the insurance claim details, it’s critically important that you deal with all the safety issues in the here and now—before you do anything else.

  • Turn off the electricity. As floodwater accumulates on the floor of your basement, it starts at once to threaten the electrical wiring from extension cords to outlets to appliances. Use the main circuit breaker to turn off electricity to your home, but don’t walk into the water to get to it. Call an electrician.
  • Watch for natural gas leaks. Natural gas pipes enter your home typically through the basement or crawl space wall. Flooding can cause shifting of the foundation enough to crack or break the pipes. If you smell gas, leave the area at once. Call the gas company.
  • Stay clear of sewage backup. Sewage drain pipes can also crack or break. In addition, they can back up into your basement due to flooding and soil saturation. Don’t enter the contaminated water. Call a plumber.
  • Beware of potential structural failure. Hydrostatic pressure from flooding can cause foundation walls to shift or bulge. That could possibly lead to complete collapse. Keep clear of the home until it has been declared structurally sound.

Step-by-Step Insurance Claims

Here are the key steps to file an insurance claim for basement flooding or foundation damage.

  • Document the damage. It’s best to take careful notes of the damage as soon as possible. Describe what happened as well as the damage you see. Take photos to include with your notes. 
  • Contact your insurer. Touch base with your insurance agent or company. They can advise you on what’s covered and what’s not.
  • Double-check your damage notes. Have someone look over your notes and photos, comparing them with the damage they observe. They may help spot additional damage that you may have missed. They can also help clarify your notes.
  • File your insurance claim. File the claim online or via smartphone app depending on your insurer’s preferences and systems. Homeowner’s policies typically cover dwelling damage and personal property damage separately. In that case, you’ll need to file two claims.
  • Work with the insurance adjuster. Give the insurance adjuster your full cooperation. Provide access to the property as well as your personal observations of what happened along with pointing out the damage that you can see. Make sure you review their final report closely to ensure they’ve covered everything.
  • Determination of payout. After all that has been processed by the insurance company, they will issue a payout for your claim. That amount will be less the policy deductible.

For more information, FEMA also has a helpful guide on How to File a Flood Insurance Claim

Insurance Coverage: Basement Flooding and Foundation Damage

Typically, homeowner’s insurance policies cover water damage due to burst pipes, sink or bath overflow, and water heater, dishwasher, and washing machine leaks. It does not usually cover basement or foundation damage caused by heavy rain, storms, mudslides, sinkholes, or underground water seepage. That’s where separate flood insurance coverage comes into play.

Flood Insurance

Some insurance companies offer supplemental flood coverage. Check with your agent to see if this is available for your policy. 

You can also access FEMA’s National Flood Insurance program. They offer the FEMA Flood Map Service Center where you can map your property to determine flooding risks.

As just two data points, the First National Flood Risk Assessment estimated that 483,000 properties in Ohio are at substantial risk of flooding. In addition, the FEMA flood insurance program has seen 143,000 claims in our state since 2000. 

If you need additional prompting to seek out flood insurance coverage, FEMA estimates that just one inch of water in a 2,500-square-foot one-story home can cause $23,635 in damage to the home along with $3,172 in damage to personal property.

Basement Flooding Prevention 

We certainly hope you’re reading this article to prepare for foundation problems rather than responding to flooding. To support your prevention efforts, we’ve created a Flood Prevention Checklist

When you’re considering options for preventing basement flooding or foundation damage, it’s a good idea to get advice from professionals. For a free inspection, contact Ohio Basement Authority.

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