On Saturday, it rained … and rained … and rained.
On Sunday, it flooded.
On Monday, I took off from work to help stage a shelter at my local church for a number of Nashville flood victims.
On Tuesday, I spent part of the day with displaced residents whose homes were completely demolished. I spent the rest of the day dealing with email problems.
On Wednesday, I started fielding calls from clients and other flood victims about what they needed to do following flood losses to their businesses and homes.
Today, I hope to outline some steps about what residents and businesses in Nashville should do about all the chaos, including lost property (personal and business), FEMA claims, insurance claims, and the daunting process of remediation and repair of your home or business.
- For both homeowners and businesses, locate your insurance policies. There are a lot of rumors about flood coverages (what is required, whether you can get flood insurance, whether the loss covers contents or the building). The only way to get to the truth is to review your policy. If the actual written document was destroyed, then call your agent for a copy of the policy … even if they tell you that you do not have coverage for floods.
- If you don’t have any insurance, or you do not have coverage for flood losses, then identify what resources are available to you. As of today, Cheatham, Davidson, Dyer, Hickman, McNairy, Montgomery, Perry, Shelby, Tipton and Williamson counties have all now been granted Federal disaster designation by the President. That means, you may qualify for assistance through FEMA. You can apply for assistance online or by telephone. FEMA requires that losses be submitted with 60 days.
- Document your losses. This may be difficult given your conditions, but it will require making a list of the damaged property, as well as taking pictures and videos. While it may be a no-brainer, separate the good from the bad … what is recoverable and usable from what is completely destroyed.
- Contact your advisers, including your insurance agent and attorney. The process of filing a claim begins with giving "notice" to your insurance carrier. Even if you are not sure about your coverage, make sure to provide the required notice. If you are denied for any reason, then an attorney will be able to advise you about your rights. (Remember, though, you need your policy!)
- Carefully walk through the remediation and repair process. Whether or not you have insurance, you will want to work remediation and repair contractors who have experience with these types of losses. As with any disaster, there will be those individuals who want to take advantage of the situation to offer their services at what may seem to be a discount. You should check whether the company is registered with the Nashville Better Business Bureau. To verify whether a repair contractor is properly licensed through the State of Tennessee, please use please use http://verify.tn.gov or http://licsrch.state.tn.us/
- For businesses, evaluate whether you have "business interruption" coverage. Again, this will depend on the actual policy. Business interruption coverage is generally not sold as a separate policy, but is added or included in a policy package. It usually covers: profits, operating expenses, and sometimes temporary relocation expenses.
There is certainly a lot of advice on the Internet … some good … some bad. There are going to be significant claims in the coming months resulting from the floods in Nashville and it is important that you find reliable information to help you through the process.