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After the flood: how to choose the right flood restoration service

Last Updated November 2018

If you’ve ever lived through a flood, you understand how traumatic a flooded home can be. Oftentimes, dealing with the aftermath can be even worse than the event itself.

Flood water can destroy your home’s flooring, rotting wood and causing mold to grow. It can wreak havoc on your home’s very structure, not to mention your furniture and personal possessions. After a flood, there’s usually an overwhelming amount of cleanup to done. In most cases, you can’t handle the job yourself – which is why finding a reputable flood restoration service is so important.

A good flood restoration service can clean up the mess and help safeguard your home from further damage. Some companies can even perform repairs to your flooring and other damaged areas. They start by evaluating the situation and coming up with a targeted plan to clean up and fix your problems.

With such an important asset on the line – your home – you must choose carefully. Hiring the wrong flood restoration service could make your nightmare even worse. An inferior company could actually increase the damage to your home, costing you even more money and time in the long run.

At BestReviews, our goal is to help you find the right flood restoration service for your home. We understand that you don’t want to waste money and possibly see even more damage occur, which is why we’ve compiled this shopping guide.

In the paragraphs that follow, we’ll tell you what to look for in a flood restoration service and what mistakes to avoid, so you can get the help you need to make your home safe and comfortable once more.

EXPERT TIP

Don’t rely on the flood restoration service to document the damage to your home. Take your own photos of the flooded area in case you need them for your insurance claim.


Your home has flooded: what should you do?

When your home suffers a flood or other water intrusion event, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. Yes, you’ll want to contact a flood restoration service as soon as you can. But first, you need to call your insurance company. Here’s a look at the first important steps you should take after the disaster.

Step One: Call your insurance company.

When your home is flooded, your first call should be to the insurance agent or representative who carries your homeowner and/or flood policy.

Your agent will likely provide information on flood restoration services that work in your area to remove water, sewage, and other contamination. Some agents may actually place a call to the service for you.

Keep two things in mind: you’re not under any obligation to use the flood restoration service that your insurance company recommends, and even if you do, the restoration service works for you, not the insurance company.

Step Two: Review your responsibilities with your insurance agent.

While the flood restoration service should take care of most of the cleaning in your home, your insurance company may require you to do some cleanup work yourself to prevent further damage to your home. 

Talk to your insurance agent, representative, or claim adjuster to discuss what your exact responsibilities are so you don’t violate the terms of your policy.

Most insurance claim settlements cover the cost of hiring the flood restoration service to clean and fix any damage. However, if the claim is denied, you will be responsible for paying the service fees yourself.

Step Three: Survey and document the damage.

Even before flood restoration service workers arrive on the scene, your insurance agent may want to visit your home to survey the damage.

If the agent can’t make it to your home, he or she agent may ask you to take photos of the damage. Whether or not the insurance company inspects your home or asks for proof of the damage, it’s a good idea to take photos for your personal records.

Step Four: Find a flood restoration service.

Unless you’ve already planned for this catastrophe, this step will require some research. The best place to start is online. You can easily identify a variety of companies in your area that handle flood damage and learn about their rates, experience, and procedures this way.

Keep in mind that a flood restoration service that charges an extremely low fee isn’t necessarily the best choice. There are several key factors you’ll want to consider when researching prospective flood restoration services. We cover those in detail in the next section.

While you’re waiting for flood restoration experts to arrive, start the drying process by opening windows and doors and setting up fans to increase ventilation.

Choosing a flood restoration service: questions to ask

You’ve contacted your insurance company, reviewed your responsibilities with your agent, and taken photographs of the damage in your home. Now it’s time to hire a flood restoration service, but whom can you trust? Asking the following questions should help narrow your search.

Is the flood restoration service company certified?

To ensure that a flood restoration service has the expertise necessary to repair your home, it’s important to verify that the company is certified. Look for a company that is certified through the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC). This certification serves as reassurance that workers have the most up-to-date training and utilize the latest technology and techniques.

Is the flood restoration service company accredited?

It’s also smart to choose a flood restoration service that has been accredited by an independent consumer organization like the Better Business Bureau. Such accreditation ensures that the company has a track record of customer satisfaction and that no major complaints have been lodged against them.

Does the flood restoration service company have insurance?

Any flood restoration service that you’re considering should have the proper insurance. If accidents or other issues arise during your home’s restoration, you’ll want to know that the company has the right coverage to take care of the damage.

Is the flood restoration service company licensed?

It’s also important to verify that the company is licensed and bonded in your state or area, so you can be certain they comply with policies and standards in the field.

How much experience does the flood restoration service company have?

As with any field, the more experience the company has, the more comfortable you’ll likely feel with the workers who visit your home. Ideally, you should opt for a company with at least five years of experience with flood restoration projects in your area.

What sort of professional reputation does the company have?

The best indication of what you can expect from a flood restoration service comes from the company’s past customers. You want to choose a service with a good reputation and a proven track record of satisfactorily repairing flood damage.

If applicable in your situation, talk to friends, family, or co-workers to see if they can recommend a flood restoration service. You can also check online reviews and visit independent review sites to gather honest opinions.

Is the flood restoration service company based in your area?

When you’re dealing with water damage, you want to get it repaired as soon as possible to avoid further damage from mold and fungus. That’s why it’s important to choose a service that’s close to your home; you want them to get to work as soon as possible.

A service that works 24 hours a day, seven days a week is your best bet. If you opt for a company that only operates on specific days and during specific hours, you may end up waiting longer than you want to for help.

Does the flood restoration service company have up-to-date tools and equipment?

The tools and equipment a flood restoration service uses can make all the difference in how effectively your home is cleaned and repaired.

Choose a company that uses the most up-to-date equipment for dehumidification, mold remediation, and water removal. The right equipment should take no more than 30 hours to dry out your home.

EXPERT TIP

After a flood, your first call should be to your insurance company agent, who may have a flood restoration service to recommend. Keep in mind that you don’t have to use the suggested service; you can opt for any certified company to handle the process.


Common mistakes to avoid after a flood

Mistake #1: You choose a flood restoration service that provides over-the-phone estimates.

You’ll want to find a flood restoration service that can get to work as soon as possible, so a company that’s willing to give you an estimate over the phone probably sounds like a great option. However, you shouldn’t trust a company that provides an estimate before they’ve inspected your home and seen the damage in person.

Mistake #2: You opt for a flood restoration service that requires a large down payment.

If your home floods because of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, there will likely be some scam artists trying to take advantage of the situation. If a flood restoration company promises immediate water damage restoration but requests a large down payment before beginning the project, that’s usually a warning sign that they’re not a reputable service.

Mistake #3: You go with a flood restoration service that doesn’t provide written paperwork.

No matter how good a flood restoration service’s pitch and estimate are, don’t just take their word for it. Avoid any company that refuses to provide written copies of its estimate, license, and proof of insurance – companies like that should not be trusted.

Ideally, you should opt for a flood restoration company with at least five years of experience in handling flooded homes in your area.

Tips for flood victims

  • Act quickly. When your home is flooded, response time is crucial to prevent further damage. While you should do careful research to find the best flood restoration service, time is of the essence; you want those workers to get there as quickly as they can.
  • Research beforehand. Nobody likes to spend their spare time imagining or planning for a catastrophe. However, it’s a good idea to know something about the flood restoration services in your area before a flood occurs. That way, you’ll be fully prepared should your home become flooded, and you’ll be able to address the problem quickly.
  • Obtain a service to-do list. When you request a written estimate from a flood restoration service, make sure the company includes a list of all services they intend to perform. That way, you’ll know exactly what to expect.
  • Read your contract, and make a copy. Once you settle on a flood restoration service, take the time to read the contract carefully. Make a copy of the contract for yourself that you can refer to in case issues arise.
Most basic homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flood damage that results from storms or natural disasters. If you want that type of protection, you must invest in separate flooding insurance. However, flooding caused by burst pipes and broken appliances is usually covered by homeowner’s insurance

FAQ

Q. What other skills and expertise should a flood restoration company have besides water removal and damage repair?
A.
Because water damage can quickly lead to mold growth, a flood restoration service that also has expertise in mold remediation is an especially good option. Removing mold is tricky, because it must be done carefully to prevent the spread of spores throughout your home.

Q. How long does the flood restoration process take?
A.
The time required to dry out, clean, and repair your home depends on the size of the flood, the surfaces affected, how long the water has been there, and how much damage has occurred. In general, it takes two to three days to dry out a home, but that doesn’t take any necessary repair work into account. Subsequent repairs can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. 

Q. Does my insurance company pay the flood restoration service directly?
A.
It’s your responsibility to pay the flood restoration company after they complete the restoration process. You can then file a claim with your insurance company for the cost of the restoration. If the claim is approved, you will then be reimbursed.