Resources for Flood Victims
Please contact the department’s Insurance Consumer Hotline at (800) 726-7390 if you need any assistance with insurance questions.
Homeowners and Automobile Insurance
What is “flood damage?”
Damage caused by rising water, or water that has been on the ground prior to causing damage.
My home was damaged when flood water entered my home. Will my homeowners policy cover this loss?
Typically no. Most standard homeowners, renters and condominium policies do not cover water damage due to flood for the structure or contents. If you bought flood insurance, contact the agent who sold you the policy or the National Flood Insurance Program at floodsmart.gov or (888) 379-9531.
Will my homeowners policy cover damages caused by sewer material and water backed into my home or basement during a flood?
Typically no. Most standard homeowners, renters, and condominium policies do not cover damage due to the back up of sewer materials into your home or basement due to a flood. Some insurance companies offer endorsements that may cover sewer backups. Look at the declarations page of your homeowners’ insurance policy to see if an endorsement for back up of sewer or drain coverage was added to your policy, or your call agent or insurance to ask if the coverage was included. If you don’t have this coverage, ask for a quote and consider adding that coverage to your homeowners’ insurance policy.
Should federal disaster assistance pay for flood damage?
Sometimes, but typically in the form of loans. Before federal disaster assistance becomes an option, the affected area must first be declared a disaster by the Federal Government. Additional information is available at www.disasterassistance.gov.
What if my vehicle is damaged as a result of the flood, will my automobile coverage cover this loss?
It depends on the type of insurance coverage you have. Vehicle liability insurance does not cover flood damage, it insures you against damage you cause or are liable to others. Flooding would cause physical damage to your own vehicle, which would be insured by a physical damage coverage called Comprehensive Coverage. If you carry comprehensive coverage on your automobile policy, then the policy will likely cover the damage caused by flooding.
How can I preserve my claims and protect my right to repayment from insurance coverage?
If you have an insurance policy that you think may cover the damage to your property, whether it is a homeowner’s, renters or auto insurance policy, call your agent or insurance company immediately to report your loss. Many policies exclude coverage for failure to timely report a claim. If you believe the insurance company is incorrectly denying your claim, please contact the department’s Insurance Consumer Hotline at (800) 726-7390 or file a complaint online at www.insurance.mo.gov.
What if I live in a condominium or rent?
If you own a condo, you should look at coverage provisions in both your association insurance policy and your individual unit owner’s insurance policy. If you rent and you do not have renter’s insurance, your landlord’s insurance (which covers the building) likely doesn’t cover your personal belongings. If your losses are not covered by any insurance policy, you may be able to get assistance from FEMA for replacement of necessary items of personal property. Additional information is available at www.disasterassistance.gov.
How do I get an insurance adjuster to come to my home and assess the damage?
Immediately following a disaster, you should contact your insurance company. Most insurance companies have toll-free numbers that are designed to handle new claims. Your company should send an adjuster out to inspect your damage within days. If you are not satisfied with the timeliness of their efforts, contact the department’s Insurance Consumer Hotline at (800) 726-7390 or file a complaint online at www.insurance.mo.gov.
What can I do to prepare for the insurance adjuster?
If circumstances allow, make a list of all property damaged or destroyed, take pictures, collect names, addresses and telephone numbers of witnesses, obtain repair estimates, keep a record of expenses (such as alternative housing, etc.) and locate original bills and receipts for lost items. Submit these along with your claim to the insurance company.
What if I cannot wait for the insurance adjuster?
Some insurance policies provide for reimbursement for temporary housing relocation costs while your home is being repaired and for car rental costs while your car is being repaired or replaced. Check your policy or call your insurance company. If your situation is desperate or your home is unlivable, make sure to let the insurance company know as soon as possible. If the company agrees flooding is a covered loss under your policy, they can advise you on what you need to do next. Do not begin to replace lost or damaged property on the assumption that your insurance company will cover the loss. Make sure you speak to your insurance company before replacing items. Call the department’s Insurance Consumer Hotline at (800) 726-7390 if you need assistance.
What if the insurance company offers to settle, denies my claim or offers me less than I think I am entitled to receive?
You should consult an attorney before signing any release or waiver and before cashing any check from the insurance company that could be deemed full and final payment of your claim. Before you settle with the insurance company, be aware of the full extent of your damage and the full value of your claim. You might want to get multiple estimates before settling. If you are not satisfied with the response, contact the department’s Insurance Consumer Hotline at (800) 726-7390 or file a complaint online at www.insurance.mo.gov.
What if my insurance does not cover all of the damage to my home or personal property?
You may be eligible for benefits under the FEMA program if you are unable to pay for the repair or replacement of essential parts of your home or essential personal property. You also may file your losses with the IRS on your income tax return the following year. Make sure to keep all repair and replacement receipts. For information on this option contact the IRS at (800) 829-1040.
Dealing with home repair contractors
When it comes time to repair damage to your home, be watchful for unscrupulous contractors. See the department’s severe weather page for tips on working with home repair companies.
Some crop insurance policies cover flood damage. These are sold by private insurance companies and regulated by the federal Risk Management Agency. Most policies require you to file a claim within 72 hours of discovering crop damage. If you have damage, contact your crop insurance agent as soon as possible, or contact the Risk Management Agency at rma.usda.gov or call (202) 690-2803. If you believe the insurance company is incorrectly denying your claim, please contact the department’s Insurance Consumer Hotline at (800) 726-7390 or file a complaint online at www.insurance.mo.gov.