After the Flood

There are many helpful recovery resources available to citizens in Montana.

Recovery Resources
 Volunteer
Document and Record Recovery

Secretary of State Linda McCulloch launched "Records Recovery", a new online resource to help Montana's businesses, homeowners, and government agencies protect, restore, and repair documents before and after a disaster emergency.

"The most important thing you can do is to act quickly," McCulloch said. "Speed is essential in preventing mold and water damage."

McCulloch outlined the following steps as a basic guide for records and information recovery:

  1. Plan - Creating and maintaining a comprehensive contingency plan is key.
  2. Backup - Essential records should be backed-up, off-site, and readily available.
  3. Prepare - Take pictures before beginning recovery; Obtain the appropriate approvals.
  4. Pack & Track - Transfer records out of danger; Record type and extent of damage.
  5. Respond -Recover essential records first; Freeze wet records within 48 hours.
Insurance

Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica Lindeen provided information about flood insurance.

Floods can happen anywhere, at any time. Residents who live in and outside of a high-risk area should know their risk, and consider protection. Approximately 20 to 25 percent of all flood claims occur outside of a Special Flood Hazard Area. Even if you live outside the high-risk zone, and thus are not required by law to purchase flood insurance, you may still be at risk for flooding and should consider flood insurance. Flooding usually is not covered by homeowners insurance. However, flood insurance can be purchased through the Federal Government through their National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Typically, a policy does not take effect until 30 days after you purchase flood insurance. If you do find yourself fighting back floodwaters, following these simple tips will make filing your flood insurance claim faster and easier:

  • Immediately call your agent or insurance company. Have the following information with you when you place your call: the name of your insurance company, your policy number, and a telephone number or e-mail address where you can be reached. When you file your claim, ask for an approximate time frame during which an adjuster can be expected to visit your home so you can plan accordingly.
  • Once you have reported your loss, an adjuster will work with you to calculate the value of the damage and prepare a repair estimate. Keep your agent advised if your contact information changes. If you are still in a shelter or cannot be easily reached, please provide the name of a designated relative or point-of-contact person who can reach you.
  • A base flood insurance policy doesn’t cover the contents or property inside your home, and a regular homeowners policy won’t cover items damaged by a flood. However, you can purchase contents coverage through the flood insurance program for an additional premium. If you have contents coverage, take photos of any damaged personal property before you dispose of it. Local officials may require the disposal of damaged items before your adjuster arrives, and the photos will help your adjuster prepare your repair estimate.
  • Make a list of damaged or lost items and include their age and value when possible. If possible, have receipts for all items available for the adjuster. If you have damage estimates prepared by a contractor, provide them to your adjuster since they will be considered in the preparation of your repair estimate.

Contact your insurance company if an adjuster has not been assigned to you within several days. If you have difficulty with your agent or your company, call one of our CSI insurance experts at 1-406-444-2040 or toll free at 1-800-332-6148. You can also visit www.floodsmart.gov  or call 303-299-7873 for more information about preparing for floods and to find a flood insurance agent near you.

Remember, FEMA will not duplicate insurance reimbursements. It is also recommended when filing a claim for damage to request that an adjuster inspect damages – regardless of whether assistance may be available from other sources.

Contractors

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry is reminding homeowners and businesses to use caution when choosing a contractor who may be looking to make a quick buck repairing damage done by recent floods. “As homeowners and businesses across the state start recovering from flooding, we want to make sure they have the information they need to hire the right contractor. Unfortunately in times of disaster unscrupulous companies see an opportunity to make fast money without doing the work,” said Labor Commissioner Keith Kelly. “If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

Warning signs to watch out for include:

  • The contractor will only accept payment in cash
  • Is pressuring you into making a hasty decision
  • Requiring you to pay in full up front

Here are some tips that both homeowners and businesses can follow when choosing a contractor:

  • Verify the contractor is registered with the State of Montana
  • Check with the State Construction Contractor Registration Unit to be sure that the contractor is in compliance
  • Find out if the contractor belongs to an industry association
  • Check for proper insurance (Liability, Workers’ Compensation)
  • Call references; look at past projects
  • Have a contract detailing every aspect of the project including how and when paid
  • Communicate. Assure each of you have a complete understanding of expectations
  • Visually inspect each part of the project

For more information on hiring the right contractor or to find a list of local contractors in your area log onto www.mtcontractor.com or call 406-444-7734.

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