Preparing for flood damage is a must for anyone who lives in a flood-prone area. Post-flooding disputes can arise about what's covered by your insurance policy and who's going to pay for your losses.
If you have advance warning of a potential flood, like with a forecasted hurricane, keeping yourself and your loved ones safe will be a top concern. But you should also take steps to prevent a potential legal disaster once flood waters recede.
Here are five tips:
Be familiar with your insurance policies. What does your homeowner or renter's insurance policy say about water damage? In general, such policies do not cover flood damage, so you'll probably need a separate flood-damage policy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency advises. But keep in mind, policies under the National Flood Insurance Plan need 30 days to take effect.
Have a plan for your pets. Who can forget the images of stranded pets being rescued from rooftops after Hurricane Katrina? Take your pets with you when you evacuate, along with their health records. Taking pictures or video of identifying marks on your pet can help prove ownership, Examiner.com suggests.
Take pictures, before and after. Photos and video of your other belongings can be used for identification purposes if any property floats away. Get close-ups of any unique or identifying markers, such as serial numbers. Photos of flood damage can also help your claims adjuster in gathering evidence and coming up with a repair estimate.
Keep important phone numbers on hand. The Internet may not be accessible during or after a disaster, and your smartphone may run out of battery. So keep a list of important numbers for utility companies and relatives.
Keep important legal documents with you. Perhaps most important, keep the following items on your person or in a safe, dry place: your driver's license, Social Security card, proof of residence (a deed or lease), health insurance policy, homeowner's or renter's policy, birth certificate, marriage certificate, property deed, vehicle titles, recent tax returns, and your will.
For more tips on how to prepare for a flood, check out this Flood Safety Checklist from the American Red Cross.