A year ago we had a horrible experience.  Our basement flooded so badly that most of it had to be redone, and it took a year to get everything finalized.

As much as I tend to bad-mouth insurance companies and their practices, I have to admit that they covered my repairs and losses to my satisfaction and they must have paid out quite a bundle in the process.

I have never had a home insurance claim before, especially one of this magnitude, and I have come up with a few tips to minimize the process if (heaven forbid) it should happen again.

  • Include a water damage clause to your home insurance policy.  At about an additional $15 a year it’s very inexpensive protection.
  • Make sure your sewer drain has a back-up protection valve.  Some insurance companies won’t cover sewer back up without this in place.
  • Get rid of anything you don’t need.  When I purchase a new item, I have a bad habit of storing the old one in the basement to sell at a garage sale, give to my kids or otherwise donate, or what if the new one breaks (?).
  • If you store items on the floor, put them in waterproof containers.  My treasured, irreplaceable art books that were temporarily placed in a box on the floor were destroyed, while my ratty old Christmas decorations were safe in their Rubbermaid tote.
  • Take pictures of, or otherwise record all your belongings including insides of closets, cupboards and drawers and keep them in a safe place because you won’t remember all of what you own.  Our restoration crew consisted of mainly “very-little-English-speaking” workers who listed the items that were thrown out.  To this day I still don’t know what some of the items were from their vague (and strange) descriptions.
  • Also, keep receipts for furniture, electronics, renovations done (carpet, etc) and other expensive belongings as long as you own the items.
  • Get the adjuster’s instructions and other information in writing.  We had several misunderstandings with our adjuster when she told us conflicting information about purchasing our replacement items.

All in all, while we had a stressful year, the results were satisfactory.  Although our planned upstairs renovations were temporarily put on hold, we ended up with a brand new basement with new drywall, flooring, furniture, accessories and other assorted items.  Now, all I need to do is get over my fear of heavy rainfall and we will be back on track.

Have you ever made a home insurance claim?  Do you have any tips to share?

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