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While it may not seem like Southern California gets enough rain to cause flood damage, that isn’t the case. Actually, because Southern California is a desert area, it is often unprepared for massive deluges of water. When the weather brings more rain than expected or a water line breaks in a neighborhood, the water damage to homes can be extreme and costly. For example, just this February, two cars fell into a 20-foot sinkhole in Studio City after a huge winter storm rolled in. Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States, and it can affect every region.

To help answer some questions, our attorneys at Schimmel & Parks, APLC, have assembled some frequently asked questions about flood damage and insurance claims.

1. What Is Flood Damage?

Flood damage is a complete documentation of direct and indirect costs associated with flooding. Direct costs are those connected to a flood event and the resulting loss. For example, if a flood knocks over a deck in your backyard, it would be considered direct damage. Indirect costs are incurred in an extended time period following a flood, such as loss of business and personal income, reduction in property values and psychological trauma.

2. What Should I Do If My Property Is Damaged In A Flood?

As soon as the floodwater levels have dropped, you need to start the recovery process by filing a flood damage claim. Flood insurance can make all the difference between recovering from the disaster and becoming financially devastated by the event.

3. What Documents Should I Have Ready When Filing A Flood Damage Claim?

Make sure to have a copy of your insurance policies, including homeowner’s insurance, umbrella, auto, business, earthquake and so on. These should include declarations pages, endorsements and any related paperwork. You should also document the damage in your home by taking photographs of everything, damaged and not damaged.

4. Can I File A Flood Claim Without A Presidential Disaster Declaration?

You can file a flood claim whether or not the president declares an emergency situation. If you have flood damage insurance on your home or apartment, you are covered regardless of presidential support.

5. How Do I File A Flood Claim?

In order to file, you need to begin by calling your insurer and informing them you have experienced flood damage. An adjuster should contact you within a few days of filing your claim. If you don’t hear from an adjuster, you can contact your insurance agent or company again. You can use the photos taken of the damage in the claims process. Make sure to make copies of these pictures in case they get lost in the mail. You might also need to make a list of damaged or lost items and include their date of purchase, value and receipts, if possible. You also will then need to complete a Proof of Loss to support your claim, which is a sworn statement of the amount you are claiming for your official claim for damages.

6. How Long Do I Have To File A Claim?

Typically, your insurance provider will inform you of your statute of limitations for filing a property damage claim. The state of California requires homeowners to file a claim within three years of the damage. However, a Proof of Loss statement will likely need to be filed with the insurance company within 60 days of the flood. If you go past your statute of limitations, the company has no obligations to compensate you for the damage.

7. What Happens If I Miss The Deadline To File?

While you can still try to file a property damage lawsuit after the three-year deadline, the courts will likely dismiss the case. The only exceptions are in rare cases, where exemptions from the deadline applies. For example, if you were under the age of 18 (meaning you lacked the legal capacity to make decisions), you could still file a claim for property damage if your parents failed to do so.

8. What If I’m Unhappy With The Compensation Amount?

If the insurance company offered you less than you expected or rejected your claim completely, you could file an appeal. You might need the help of an experienced Southern California property damage attorney to help build your case and guide you through the appeal proceedings. Appeals also have a statute of limitations, so make sure you take action as soon as you are informed of the amount or the denial. For more exceptions to the deadline, speak to one of our experienced property damage attorneys.

Do You Have More Questions? Talk To Us Today!

If you need to file a claim, or you need to appeal an insurance company’s denial of your request, don’t hesitate to call us. Our skilled Southern California civil litigation lawyers have developed a reputation for providing high-quality legal advocacy to people in the Southern California region. Schimmel & Parks, APLC, has more than 70 years of combined legal experience to offer your case. Let us see what we can do for you.

Contact us at 818-922-8544​ or fill out our online form to schedule an initial consultation today.