Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services Offers Tips to Prepare for Spring Thaw Flooding and Severe Weather

Media Contact: Laura Hall, 517-290-3779, halll17@michigan.gov
Consumer Hotline: 877-999-6442, Michigan.gov/DIFScomplaints

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 2, 2021

(LANSING, MICH) With warmer temperatures on the way, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) encourages Michiganders to take steps to be prepared for spring storms, flooding, and potential water damage before disaster strikes.

“As we’ve seen in recent years, severe weather and flooding can cause extensive damage, even in areas that do not traditionally flood,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “Taking action now, before the spring thaw, can help consumers get their lives back to normal as soon as possible after a severe weather event or flood.”

Before experiencing a loss due to extreme weather or water damage, consumers should:

  • Review insurance policies to understand their coverage and contact their insurance agent or company to discuss any coverage needs. Flood damage is not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies. There are certain insurance policies, including federal flood insurance, that homeowners would need to purchase to have coverage for flooding or water and sewer back-up resulting from storms or other natural disasters. It is important to discuss these options with your insurance agent or your insurance company well before flooding or damage occurs. Keep in mind that coverage through the federal flood insurance program typically takes 30 days to go into effect.

  • Prepare a detailed inventory of personal property with photographs of each room in the home to help complete the claim process, including a list of other valuables and equipment that do not appear in the photos. These materials should be stored in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box, with a relative, or electronically online.

  • Make a list of important telephone numbers including family members, insurance agents, and insurance companies.

  • Store copies of all insurance policy declaration pages and insurance cards in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box or online in the cloud, in case the originals are destroyed or lost.

After severe weather or flooding causes damage, consumers should:

  • Contact their insurance company’s claims hotline and/or agent to report the claim. Have the policy number and other relevant information readily available. DIFS has prepared an Insurance Claims Tracking Sheet to make this process easier.

  • If there is water damage, consumers should tell their insurance company that there is water damage and they are looking to determine what coverage is available. Consumers should not simply state that the damage is due to a flood as there may be additional causes for water damage, such as a sewer backup or failing sump pump, that may be covered under the policy.

  • Take steps to protect the property and prevent further loss. Be sure to keep receipts for any purchases of supplies that are needed to protect the property.

  • Document the loss. Take pictures or videos of the damaged items and do not get rid of the items until instructed to do so by the insurance company.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will host two webinars to help educate consumers on the National Flood Insurance Program. These events will be held Thursday, March 25 from 10:30 a.m. to noon EST, and Monday, March 29 from 2-3:30 p.m. EST. Pre-registration is required for these events and space is limited.

DIFS encourages consumers to first attempt to resolve any claim disputes directly with their insurance company. If a resolution cannot be reached, DIFS will help try to resolve disputes. To learn more and file a complaint, visit Michigan.gov/DIFScomplaints. Anyone with questions or concerns about their insurance coverage is asked to call the DIFS toll-free hotline 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 877-999-6442.

The mission of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services is to ensure access to safe and secure insurance and financial services fundamental for the opportunity, security, and success of Michigan residents, while fostering economic growth and sustainability in both industries. In addition, the Department provides consumer protection, outreach, and financial literacy and education services to Michigan residents. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/difs or follow the Department on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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