The Federal Flood Insurance Claims Process Can be Complicated

People who lost everything to Harvey's floods will now face a new but equally daunting challenge...trying to navigate the complicated National Flood Insurance Program, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Wendy Kowalik, a local financial consultant and president of Predico Partners, who has worked with flood victims, describes at a 'marathon, not a sprint.'

"This is definitely a long process," she said.  "You are dealing with the government, you have a long way to go, and the only way this happens is if you are the champion of your claim."

Even though flood insurance is sold through private insurance agents, it is underwritten by a federal program, because usual actuarial logistics don't apply, as some homes are very likely by their location in a flood plain to be flooded, and other homes won't be flooded even in an historic event like Hurricane Harvey.

Homes which are being in designated 'flood plains,' are generally required by the mortgage lender to carry flood insurance.

Kowalik says  dealing the the government, customers quickly learn, is far different than dealing with private business where things like customer service are concerned.  USAA told us earlier this week that its adjusters, for example, are empowered to write checks on the spot.  She says don't expect that with federal flood insurance.

"Make your claim, record your claim number, record the time, record what they said," she advises.  "You are going to repeat this information to multiple people many many times."

She says also, unlike most private insurance, federal flood insurance, unless you have special coverage, won't pay for things like temporary repairs and temporary living accommodations.But she says there is good news.  Harvey in the Houston area flooded areas which are not in flood plains, and have never flooded before, who people who live in those areas don't have and have never considered buying flood insurance.  Is there any recourse for them?

"Many people do have wind coverage," she said.  "Because this was a hurricane, there is a possibility that this will be covered under windstorm policies."

She says be patient, remember all of your interactions, be courteous, and remember that the process of fighting through the flood insurance nightmare will last a lot longer than the flood.

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