This interview is more an attempt to educate than learn about an author and his or her work. Flooding and the accompanying intricacies and pitfalls of insurance coverage leave many folks wondering if they are covered or if they should be covered. Samuel Bearman and Dennis Abbott wrote a book titled “Your Guide to Handling Flood Insurance Claims.”
Mr. Bearman is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Duke University and has been practicing law for over twenty years.
“Flood Insurance Claims” isn’t a voluminous legal masterpiece sure to confuse the reader. In fact, the book consists of three chapters. The authors kept the number of pages to a minimum, opting for quality and comprehension in their message. And, bless their hearts, the language is in lay terms even I can understand.
Bearman and Abbott walk the reader through flood insurance; from what kind a property owner should have, to how to obtain it, to what information/documentation must be kept and provided to successfully file a claim. Bearman, along with Dana Oberhausen, also wrote “Your Guide to Understanding Florida Personal Injury Law.”
So, if you’ve ever had questions about flood insurance, maybe “Your Guide to Handling Flood Insurance Claims” is a book you should check out.
Q) The first questions I think most folks will have are how much of the information you have compiled is available through other sources, and why should we buy your book?
A) The general information contained in the first chapter can be found at various FEMA websites and from FEMA/NFIP publications. We have taken information from all these sources and have organized it into a simplified explanation of the important terms and conditions of the flood insurance program. Chapter Two addresses flood claims from a legal perspective and we know of no other publication which attempts to do this. Finally, there is a useful FAQ section in Chapter Three which answers the most common questions relating to flood insurance.
Q) On the first page you point out that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is now a part of the Dept. of Homeland Security, and that the federal government will make flood insurance available to a community if certain steps are taken by that community. To some people, that chain of involvement won’t sit comfortably. How intricate is government involvement to a homeowner just trying to insure the property they’ve worked hard to own?
A) Buying flood insurance is as simple as contacting your local insurance agent. The same agent who provides you with car and homeowners's insurance can usually sell you flood insurance.
Q) In the book you list several important forms flood victims will need to file claims. How important is it that a homeowner have specific ‘to the letter’ forms?
A) A flood policy has strict filing requirements and requires specific information when making a claim. Forms have been developed by FEMA which incorporate these requirements. It is very important to use these forms. These forms will usually be furnished by the adjuster. However, the forms are provided as a courtesy only and if not provided, the policyholder has the responsibility of providing the appropriate information.
Q) To protect themselves in the event of flooding, what documentation should a property owner either not have stored on site or have duplicated in a secondary safe location?
A) Obviously, any documentation relating to ownership and value of the property is important is resolving your claim. "Before" pictures of your house and contents are invaluable in settling your claim. You should always keep a current inventory of your personal property. Make sure these documents are kept in a safe and dry place.
Q) What is the greatest pitfall homeowners need to be aware of when purchasing flood insurance?
A) Be sure to discuss the realistic replacement cost of your property with your agent in deciding on how much insurance to purchase. Many policyholders are underinsured. Be sure to protect your equity in your property and also purchase a sufficient amount to obtain the greatest benefit under the policy.
Q) Vehicles and boats are not covered under most flood insurance policies. What kind of policy would provide coverage for these in the event of flood damage?
A) Your car and boat policies usually cover flood damage but make sure you discuss this with your agent. Not all policies are the same and flood exclusions are common.
Q) My curious question: Flood insurance carriers have received a bad rap due to recent disasters and stories of nonpayment. Do recovery odds actually increase when a homeowner hires an attorney, and, how can most folks afford an attorney when they’ve just lost everything?
A) A flood policy has critical deadlines and requirements and if not met, an otherwise valid claim will be denied. A policyholder not only needs an attorney, they need an attorney with experience in handling flood claims. Most attorneys will work on a "contingency" basis and will be entitled to a fee only if additional payment is obtained.
Q) Any parting comments?
A) Flood insurance claims are handled the same way in every state because this is a federal program. The procedure in the State of Washington is the same as the procedure in the State of Florida. If we can help with any questions, particularly regarding flood damage from Hurricane Sandy, just let us know.
DA Kentner is the author of the acclaimed suspense novel Whistle Pass http://whistlepass.blogspot.com/