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How businesses, homeowners can start the recovery from flood damage

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By Licia Jackson
ljackson@scbiznews.com
Published Oct. 5, 2015

Business owners and homeowners across the state woke up today to face damage many have never seen before.

Floodwaters rushing or seeping into buildings cause damage that is not covered by standard business owners and homeowners insurance policies. To have coverage of these losses, a property owner must buy a separate flood insurance policy.

However, losses of vehicles to flooding are covered by auto insurance, if the policy includes comprehensive coverage.

After the past few days’ flooding, “most of the insured losses will be cars,” said Russ Dubisky, executive director of the S.C. Insurance News Service. “Some homes and businesses have flood coverage.”

In addition, if a tree falls and damages a building or car, that damage is covered by property owners insurance for structures and by the comprehensive coverage of an auto insurance policy.

Dubisky expects that insurance companies will send in teams of claim representatives to help auto owners who have damage to their cars. In addition, the S.C. Department of Insurance has issued a disaster declaration that will allow temporary adjusters to help with the claims process.

Those who have flood insurance and need to file a claim are advised to contact the agent from whom they purchased the policy.

Whether or not a property owner has covered losses, here are some important steps to take, according to Dubisky:

  • Make sure the building is safe to enter. If there is still water inside, it may contain bacteria or other hazards, or it may pose an electrical threat.
  • Do what you can to mitigate the damage so it doesn’t get worse. Put tarps over windows or doors. Remove branches.
  • Before doing any cleanup, make photos or videos of all the damage to document what happened.
  • Keep receipts for any items you buy to make temporary repairs. If your loss is insured, these costs may be covered.
  • For losses covered by property or auto insurance, contact your insurance company. Provide all the documentation you have gathered.

In the event that disaster funds become available to South Carolina, documentation of losses and expenses would be important in filing a claim, according to the website of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Going forward, Dubisky reminds property owners that flood insurance is not expensive for those who do not live in a flood zone as determined by the federal government. It is available from the National Flood Insurance Program or some private companies.

Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States, and 25% of flood losses occur in areas that are not part of flood zones, Dubisky said.

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