CT BBB: What to do after a damaging storm or flood


CROMWELL, CT — After a storm, many homeowners have to deal with flood damage. Quick action can minimize disastrous effects on businesses and homes. According to FEMA, just one inch of water in a home can cost more than $25,000 in damage. The Better Business Bureau urges all homeowners to take care when choosing businesses and contractors to help with the cleanup work.

Water damage restoration: What to do when your house is flooded

  • Document the damage to your property. Take pictures and if possible, video evidence. 
  • Contact your insurance company immediately. Check your insurance policy – Flood damage is not covered by standard homeowners or renters insurance policies. In some high-risk flood areas, home and business owners may be required by law to carry flood insurance. Inquire about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. 
  • Ask for proof of liability, workers compensation, and licensing. Verify the contractor has the correct license to do work in Connecticut. This protects you in case something happens while working on your property.  
  • Do not make any permanent repairs until you get approval from your insurance company. Your insurer might not fully reimburse you for permanent repairs made without their authorization. 

Review contracts, deposits and payments

  • Make sure the contract is specific. Be sure the contract specifies the schedule for releasing payments. Ask for a start and end date for the work to be done.
  • Never pay in full in advance. Do not pay with cash. BBB suggests that no more than one-third of the job be paid up front. Don’t make a final payment or sign a completion agreement until all work is done to your satisfaction. 

Beware of scams

It is also wise to be on the lookout for scammers who are seeking to take advantage of an owner's haste to repair the damage. Here are a few red flags to be wary of: 

  • Door-to-door workers who claim to have leftover materials.
  • A contractor who shows up unannounced and claims your home is unsafe. If you are concerned about possible structural damage in your home, have an engineer, architect, or building official inspect it. An unethical contractor may actually create damage to get work.
  • Businesses without local addresses. If a company doesn't have a permanent place of business, this may be cause for concern. Always ask for references and verify them independently.
  • Be on the lookout for price gouging. Consumers should use the BBB Scam Tracker to see if others have reported a scam, or to report a scam themselves.

Flood preparedness: How to prepare for a flood disaster

September is National Preparedness Month. Here are some simple steps that businesses and homeowners can take to reduce the impact of natural disasters:

  • Take pictures/video of your business or home as a point of reference in the event of an emergency.
  • Back up critical digital files on a portable external hard drive and store it away from the office.
  • Properly anchor fuel and propane tanks, so they don't float away in case of flooding. Also, ensure you keep your fuel levels full ahead of storms.
  • Have copies of your insurance policies on hand and have an electronic version available.
  • Collect family photos and other mementos in a centralized and easily accessible area, preferably in a watertight container.
  • Keep medicines together in a waterproof container.
  • Prepare an emergency kit with a change of clothes, weather appropriate footwear, flashlight, water, and battery or crank operated radio to monitor the weather without electricity.
  • Discuss your emergency plan with your family. Designate a "safe place" inside if you have to take shelter and a meeting place outside in case you have to evacuate.
Submitted by Fairfield, CT

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