My father used to say there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. My parents were fortunate to have been able to purchase a waterfront home on the Jersey Shore when I was a young boy. Even more fortunate, that property never flooded during the twenty years my parents owned it. If it had, I am sure my father would have added a third certainty to his list—future floods. Whether you believe it is man-made or nature’s own cycle, no one can argue our weather patterns are changing and tending to be more violent. If you own property on or near the water, it is a safe bet you are at risk for future flooding.
They call our job the practice of law because the law is constantly evolving and we are constantly learning as we progress. In handing hundreds of Superstorm Sandy flood claims, certain patterns have developed which can help prepare policyholders for future flood losses. One such thing we have seen is attorneys representing the flood carriers demand that the policyholders produce receipts for everything in their home, including renovations that may have been done years before the flood. Many of my current Hurricane Sandy clients also had issues with Hurricane Irene in 2011. The defense attorneys are also demanding proof that any repairs paid for by insurance from prior floods were actually completed. These demands for receipts are troubling to most people who have sustained major flood damage as the receipts, if kept, are usually lost along with the other personal belongings destroyed by the flood waters. It can be difficult to recall who did the repairs or where certain items were purchased to try to get copies of receipts from the vendors. Also, contractors and stores sometimes go out of business, leaving an already devastated homeowner with no options to prove their claim.
How then do you prepare yourself for the next flood? The answer is in the cloud. I highly recommend that policyholders maintain online digital files for all of your repair receipts and personal property purchases. (I also make sure I store all my family photographs in the cloud as well). These files can be accessed at any time from any computer. Thus, even if your paper files and computers are destroyed, you can still access these important files. There are several free options out there such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Apple iCloud. Each of these options offer a small amount of free storage with the option to purchase additional storage as needed.