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Wind Damage vs. Water Damage: What You Need to Know to File A Claim

Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tropical storms, and nor’easters can cause wind and flood damage to your property. Your National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy, as well as your homeowners or commercial property insurance, should work together to cover any sustained damage. You will likely need to file insurance claims with both entities and work with multiple adjusters.

I’m Chris Parks with North Star Services, LLC and in the wake of Hurricane Ian's destruction wrought upon Florida, here is some much needed information on insurance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Flood Risks and Water Damage

According to FEMA, water damage from floods is one of the most common and costly hazards in the U.S. How common? Recent statistics by the NFIP cite a 1 in 4 chance of flood in high-risk areas over the course of the average 30-year mortgage. Sadly, for many home and business owners, losses due to water damage from flood are not covered under your typical insurance policy.

Distinguishing the Cause of Damage

Your flood insurance policy only covers physical damage directly caused by a flood. Other policies, such as homeowners policies, do not cover water damage from flooding but may cover damage from other perils, such as wind-driven rain or fire.

If a river overflows or rain causes flash flooding that enters your home, this is considered a direct result of flooding and would likely be covered under your flood insurance policy. However, if rain is propelled into a covered structure by wind, that is considered wind-driven rain and is not covered under your flood insurance policy. The same is true if your roof is damaged and water enters through the ceiling. That is water damage as a result of wind damage and is not covered under your flood insurance policy.

Reporting Flood Damage

Taking quick action will put you back in control of your home and your life.

Step 1: Contact Your Agent

Your flood insurance policy requires you to give prompt written notice of your loss. To start the process, you should directly contact your flood insurance agent or your flood insurance company. When making the claim, you will likely need to provide the name of your insurance company, policy number, and contact information.

Step 2: Separate Your Property

Your flood insurance policy requires you to separate damaged property from undamaged property. Take photographs and videos of the damaged property, including items you plan to discard. After recording the damage, immediately throw away flooded content and materials, such as perishable food items, clothing, pillows, etc., that could pose health risks and collect mold.

Take measures to preserve and protect undamaged property, but do not sign an agreement or contract for cleaning, remediation, or maintenance services before consulting with your flood adjuster or flood insurer to ensure that the services are covered. In most situations, you are allowed to mitigate further damage to your property, such as tarping, but you cannot repair damage prior to the adjuster’s visit.

NFIP policyholders are responsible for minimizing the growth and spread of mold as much as possible after a flood. Both flood and property insurance policies do not cover mold damage if a policyholder fails to take action to prevent the growth and spread of mold.

Step 3: Record Damage

Take photographs of all damage, or take a video of the inside and outside of your home. As you assess your property, make a list of any structural damage you want to point out to the insurance adjuster(s). If you purchased flood insurance Contents Coverage, which is separate from flood and property insurance, you should also make a list of your damaged property for your adjuster. Be sure to include:

  • The quantity and description of each item

  • Any brand name(s)

  • Where the item was purchased

  • The cost, model, and serial number (if appropriate)

  • Location of the item in your building

  • Your estimate of the loss amount

Step 4: Work With Your Adjuster(s)

Your adjuster will contact you after receiving your notice of loss to set a time for a property visit. During the initial visit, they will take measurements and photos to document flood damage. You may want to ask if you are eligible for a remove visit or advance payment.

After the inspection, you will be provided contact information and the adjuster will let you know if additional visits are needed.

Your adjusters may need to consult with each other and additional claims personnel during the settlement of your claims. The adjuster then uses the information collected during the visit(s)—and the documentation you have provided—to complete a detailed estimate of damage. You will receive a copy of the estimate, which may help inform solicitation of bids for repair work from licensed professional contractors.

Beware of scammers. When an adjuster visits your home, you should not be asked to provide confidential information, such as your social security number or bank account numbers.

Talk to your flood insurance agent about what’s covered under your policy and how the NFIP can help you recover. For additional support filing your claim, contact FEMA Mapping and Insurance eXchange (FMIX) at FEMA-FMIX@fema.dhs.govor by calling (877) 336-2627.

Precautions Dealing With Water Damage

There are some precautions and steps you can follow to help if you experience water damage in your home or office.

When Dealing with Water Damage

Contact a licensed, certified water damage restoration company such as North Star Services as soon as possible. Damage from water, mold and bacteria growth can begin within 24-48 hours

  • Do not enter an affected building

  • If water damage is due to natural disaster, check for any fallen power lines

  • Do not enter into rooms with standing water if the power is still on

  • If possible, disconnect the power if you must enter damaged property

  • Remove as much as water as possible by blotting and mopping

  • Do not use an ordinary household vacuum to remove water

  • Electric appliances should not be used on wet floors and wet carpet

  • Wet fabrics should be removed and dried as soon as possible

  • Hang Leather goods and furs to dry separately at room temperature

  • Move paintings, photos, guns and art objects to a dry, safe location

  • Keep open luggage, closet doors, and furniture drawers to enhance drying

Health Tips When Dealing With Water Damage

  • Turn off any air handling systems or HVAC if safely accessible

  • Avoid contact with sewage or sewage-contaminated items

  • Do not consume any food that has been left out in contaminated environments

  • Do not turn on fans to dry out the room

  • Do not stay in the building if you have respiratory problems like asthma, allergies, etc

Request A Free Inspection Today

When flood, storm and hurricane damage occurs to your residential or commercial property, contact North Star Services, LLC — a certified IICRC restoration and remediation company with over 20 years’ experience in Nashville, Berry Hill & Middle Tennessee. We provide free mold, crawl space and restoration inspections, and are available 24/7, 365 days a year for emergencies such as water damage, fire damage, flood and storm damage and more. Contact us at 629-221-0638 or request a free estimate now.

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