carpet and padding being removed from floor

What to Do if Your Basement Floods

Updated March 3, 2021 . AmFam Team

Learn what to do if your basement floods and the immediate steps to take to minimize and assess the damage.

When severe weather hits and leaves a basement full of water behind, you need to act quickly. Although cleaning up after a basement flood may seem like an impossible task, it is possible. So, before a storm sweeps through your area and you’re dealing with a flood on your lower level, watch this short video on what to do when your basement floods. Then, keep reading for step-by-step tips on how to manage water removal and quickly restore your basement in the aftermath of a flood.


What To Do If Your Basement Floods

First and foremost: never walk into a room when water is present on the floor. Extension cords or other electrical wiring may be compromised and that standing water could be electrified. After making sure you and your loved ones are safe, there are other important steps to take as well. You’ll need to move quickly in order to keep mold development to a minimum.

Your homeowners insurance is typically able to cover the water damage in your basement if it’s caused by covered events like a burst pipes and sudden leaks caused by accidental damage. Water damage caused by flooding that results from a storm probably won’t be covered by your homeowners insurance though.

To protect your basement from this type of flooding and for greater peace of mind, consider purchasing a separate flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you have a separate flood policy through the NFIP, file a claim or contact your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) once you notice the flooding damage and after everyone is safe.

In addition to working with our Emergency Water Removal Program, here’s a list of things to do to within the first 24 hours after a flood to get your basement back in shape quickly:

1. Turn off the electricity

If necessary, contact a licensed electrician to disconnect the power to the basement. Be sure you’ve got high-powered, battery-operated flashlights or flood lamps to help you navigate safely.

2. Rent a gasoline-powered water pump

Industrial tool rental groups will usually have pumps and hoses suitable for basement flooding repair.

 

water leaking under a door

 

3. Find the source of flooding

Once you’ve got the majority of the water out, you’ll need to understand how the basement flood happened. It’s smart to first check your sump pump — did it stop working? When it’s safe to do so, power up the sump pump and see if it’s still working. If it is, let the sump collect the rest of the water.

There are a few other places to check in your basement that could have caused the flooding. Be sure to inspect the following:

  • Walls
  • Windows
  • Floor cracks
  • Pipes or hoses connected to appliances
  • Floor drain
  • Toilets
  • Sinks
  • Bathtubs
  • Showers

4. Remove all wet and waterlogged items

Get all items that have been impacted by the flood water out of the basement. Painful as this may be, that may include your flooring. You may have to pull up the carpet, padding and other flooring with this type of water damage. When water has made its way into flooring, mold can develop quickly and that can present serious health issues for you and your family.

5. Use a wet-dry vacuum to pull up remaining water

Shop vacuums that can handle water are a great tool for water extraction. Use them to clean out the low-lying areas and pull up puddles that remain. Use a squeegee to move water towards floor drains or for collection by the wet-dry vacuum.

6. Get air flowing through the area

After the water’s up, it’s time to kick the humidity out of your basement. Check back with the tool rental group and reserve a couple of fans to dry out what’s left behind.

7. Turn on the dehumidifier

Along with airflow, getting the moist air out of your basement is the next step in returning it to a usable space. Be sure to run a hose to a drain — if possible — or empty the water collection bin regularly. Your local tool rental outfit may have industrial dehumidifiers that can really help to pull moisture out.

How To Handle A Flooded Basement

You’ll need to dry out your basement’s floor right away to prevent future damage to your basement or costly repairs down the line. The drying process depends on the type of flooring material your basement has, so follow the steps for your basement’s flooring below.

How To Dry a Carpeted Floor After a Flood

If you’re wondering how to handle wall-to-wall carpeting after a flood, you may be able to salvage the carpeting, but the padding will have to be pulled up and replaced. Here’s how to dry your carpeting after a flood. Be sure to follow the final step to prevent mold from forming.

1. Get the water out of your basement

Use the wet-dry vac to pull water up as much as possible from the carpeting. Think about renting a carpet cleaner to pull water and shampoo the carpet before you pull it up.

 

a worker removing wet carpet

 

2. Pull the carpet up from the tacking strip

Wall-to-wall carpeting is attached to your floor with a tacking strip along the perimeter. Pull the carpet up off the floor and tent it over chairs and ladders.

3. Ventilate the drying carpet

Direct fans above and below the tented carpeting, and use your dehumidifier to assist.

4. Pull the padding

Your padding will likely not be recoverable and will need to be pulled up and thrown away. Get in touch with a carpet installer and get a quote on new padding and re-installing your dried carpeting, if you’re not up to the job yourself.

5. Sterilize and deodorize

After you’ve dried the carpet and the cement pad is dry, get cleaning chemicals and materials that inhibit the growth of mold and mildew. Apply these chemicals carefully and be sure to follow the safety instructions. Proper ventilation and personal protection equipment — like a respirator — may be required. Hiring a professional steam cleaning group to sanitize the carpeting after it’s re-installed can also help prevent mold from growing.

How To Dry a Concrete Floor After Flooding

If the flooding isn’t too bad, you may think your concrete floor will dry up no problem on its own once the excess water is removed. However, not properly drying your concrete floor after flooding can cause it to crack or fail to bond with water-based adhesive used in things like carpet. Here’s how to dry your concrete basement floor after flooding.

1. Remove the water

Just like carpeting, remove the standing water by mopping it up, draining it or using a sump pump if severe.

2. Air it out or use dehumidifier

Next open windows to get air circulating in your basement. A dehumidifier is preferred if your flooding was substantial, as it can really help remove remaining moisture.

3. Hire professional help

If your flooding was severe, you’ll need professionals to assess the damage. As concrete is the foundation of your house, you don’t want to risk it becoming more damaged, so consider hiring a professional concrete drying company.

How To Dry a Wood Floor After Flooding

Like carpet and concrete, drying your wood floor after a flood immediately is crucial. Wood in particular can discolor or warp when wet, so act fast and follow these steps.

1. Move furniture and wet items

Leaving furniture or heavy appliances on wet wood floor can cause damage, so move those items right away and dry them elsewhere.

2. Remove the water

A wet-dry vacuum is your best bet for removing as much water from your wood flooring as possible. If there’s a lot, consider hiring a water damage restoration company for help.

 

cleaning up water from a wood floor

 

3. Disinfect the floor

Hardwood flooring is susceptible to mold if too wet, so use a wood floor-friendly disinfectant to clean the floor after the standing water has been removed.

4. Use fans and a dehumidifier

To start drying, use a dehumidifier in the center of your basement. This will be a big help for removing moisture, but you can use large fans if you don’t have a dehumidifier. Turn on the air conditioning in your basement — that will help too.

It can take up to six weeks to completely dry your basement floor, so wait before having your floor sanded or refinished. If your floor still seems wet, contact a professional.

How To Prevent Basement Flooding

A great initial step to preventing water damage caused by flooding is investing in a water leak sensor. When placed in flood-prone areas, these devices can detect water leaks, shut off the water main and alert you via your smartphone.

To help protect your home and what matters most, here are more ways you can help prevent basement flooding.

 

a corner of a basement with water damage

 

1. Repair foundation cracks

Check your home’s concrete foundation for any cracks or signs of stress. That includes the exterior if visible, and your basement’s floor and walls. You can use epoxy to repair small cracks, but you’ll need professional help if serious.

2. Clean downspouts and gutters

Rainwater can pool and seep into your home if your gutters or downspouts are clogged with debris. Regularly clean your gutters and make sure your downspouts end at least three feet away from your home so water will freely flow away.

3. Cover window wells

Water can collect in window wells and seep through to your basement floor. Securing your window wells with clear acrylic covers will help to keep out water — leaves and critters too — and best of all, they let sunlight in.

 

a sump pump

 

4. Maintain your sump pump

Your sump pump is responsible for preventing water damage to your home, but it can fail due to a clog or power outage. Be sure to regularly inspect your sump pump to make sure it is running correctly. Learn more about sump pump maintenance and how sump pump insurance coverage can protect your home from sump pump failure.

5. Regrade your lawn

Lawn regrading is leveling out your yard so that any slopes rainwater can travel down toward your house are smoothed out. A little landscaping can go a long way in making sure rainwater drains away from your home and basement.

Keep in Touch With Your Insurance Agent

Cleaning up after a flood can feel like a job that will take weeks. But the majority of the work is setting up the space to keep humidity down while things dry out. It can be hard to determine who to call when basement floods, but you’re not in this alone!

A great resource in the event of a basement flood is your American Family Insurance agent. (Opens in a new tab) Before the storms start rumbling, they can help you determine if you’ll benefit from optional coverage like hidden water damage or sump pump failure. And of course, if the unexpected happens, they’ll be right there to help you file your claim.

Related Articles

  • Roof and gutter covered in ice.
    Roof and gutter covered in ice.
    Protect Your Roof: How to Prevent & Remove Dams

    Icicles may give your home a quaint look in winter, but they’re symptomatic of a bigger problem — ice dams. Ice dams can damage your home because they prevent melting snow and ice from draining properly. Ice dams can lead to mold, rot and water leaking into your attic and nearby ceiling. But don’t panic just yet. We’ve highlighted how to prevent and remove ice dams and ways to mitigate damage to your home from ice dams.

    Red house in the snow.

    What is an ice dam?

    What causes ice dams? Ice dams form when attic air becomes warm enough to heat the underside of the roof, which in turn causes the snow on top of the roof to thaw. The melting snow runs down the roof until it hits an eave or roof edge that is below the freezing point. The melted snow refreezes and creates a ridge of ice — an ice dam — which blocks further runoff. As snow continues to melt, it has nowhere to go but up, where it starts seeping under the shingles and into the house.

    Ice dams typically form near the edge of the roof when water runs off the warmed roof and then freezes again at the eaves, but this isn’t the only place you’ll find them. They can also form on gutters that don’t drain completely and around skylights because of the less-insulated design.

    Icicles hanging from roof's gutter.

    Why are ice dams bad?

    Ice dams can cause big problems for your home. The weight of these heavy icicles has been known to rip gutters from roofs and cause damage to the shingles on your home. But the damage doesn’t stop there. Damaged drywall and plaster, water-stained ceilings and peeling paint are also the result of ice dam damage.

    Ice dams increase the chance of water seeping into your attic and soaking your insulation. This significantly brings down its R-value or its heat-retaining/insulating capacity — and worse yet — it can cause structural damage if left unchecked. Over the years, the effects of ice dams can lead to blistering of the interior and exterior paint. It can also spur the growth of mold and mildew, as well as weaken structural beams and rafters. Take into account the high-cost contractors will likely charge to fix the problem and you’ll begin to understand why it’s wise to take a proactive approach to managing ice dams.

    Person inspecting roof for damage. 

    How to Identify Ice Dam Damage to Your Home

    If you suspect that your home has an ice dam, it’s important to first detect signs of ice dam leaks and assess the extent of the damage. It may be necessary to bring in a contractor for an estimate in order to have a solid understanding of how extensive the damage is. In the meantime, here are some DIY ideas to try out:

    Snap some photos

    From the exterior of your home, take a few photos that you can use as a reference to look for signs of water damage on the interior. Look for stains on your ceilings and walls near the position of the ice dam.

    Check your attic

    Get into the attic and look for water dripping or staining on the rafters and roofing underlayment. It can be helpful to flag these areas so that you’ll be able to locate them later.

    Inspect your chimney

    See if you can find evidence of ice forming around the base of the chimney, where it meets your roof. If the flashing has come loose or isn’t sealed well, this can be another place where ice and meltwater can do some damage. From inside the attic, review the way heat escapes from around the perimeter of your chimney. If you can see daylight through that seal, take action to seal it up as soon as possible.

    Snow and ice on a roof and gutters.

    How to Prevent Ice Dams

    The basic principle of preventing ice damns is keeping your roof cold. If your roof is cold, snow won’t melt as fast and an ice ridge will be less likely to form. Keeping your roof cold isn’t always as easy as it sounds, so we’ve got ice dam prevention tips for you.

    Ice dams are usually created when the attic is warmer than the air outside. Ideally, the insulation keeps warm air in your home and out of your attic. The venting system in your attic helps keep it cool and hopefully close to the temperature outside. Together, this clever combination keeps snow on the roof from melting — and if the snow doesn’t melt, then ice dams shouldn’t form.

    The key to preventing ice dams on roofs and in roof valleys involves increasing ventilation in your attic, adding insulation and sealing air leaks. This is not a quick fix but a permanent correction, so it requires some effort and, most likely, professional assistance. However, the long-run benefits include a roof free of ice dams and a more energy-efficient home. We’d call that a win-win.

    Worker insulating an attic.

    Follow these 10 steps to avoid ice dams:

    1. Increase ventilation. Keeping cold air moving under the roof is the first step toward preventing ice dams. The ridge and soffit vents are designed to do this, but they might require a professional inspection and baffles to improve the flow and provide a clear path for the air.

    2. Cap the attic hatch. If you have an unsealed attic hatch, a weather-stripping cap will keep the heat in your home and prevent it from creeping into the attic. Remember, you don’t want warm air coming up into the attic and melting snow on the roof, causing freezing and ice dams.

    3. Examine exhaust systems. Most homes have exhaust ducts in the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room. These vents should all lead outdoors through the roof or walls. If they’re vented to the soffit, you’ll need to have that changed for permanent ice dam remediation.

    4. Check the insulation. Check to see if your attic floor needs more insulation. Maintaining this protective barrier at optimum depth helps your home stay warmer and more energy efficient while keeping the cool air in the attic.

    Worker fixing a chimney.

    5. Install chimney flashing. Do you have flashing, a metal strip that prevents water penetration, between your chimney and the house? If not, it’s time to add it and seal any gaps where ice, water and cold wind can sneak in. Remember, you’re working around the chimney, so using fire-safe products is essential.

    6. Caulk leaks. Anywhere electrical cables, vent pipes, satellite dishes and other penetrations occur in the roof, you stand the risk of having gaps and air leaks. Caulk these areas with a fire-stop sealant to keep them as air-tight as possible.

    7. Check the ducts. Make sure all ductwork through the attic is properly sealed and insulated. If you have an older home, it pays to check your heating ducts to make sure they’re not bringing excess heat into the attic.

    Worker fixing a light in the ceiling.

    8. Look at the lights. If you have can lights or other light fixtures in your ceiling that are not sealed, you’re releasing heat into the attic. You might also be putting your home at risk for a fire. For increased safety, change these lights to an IC-rated fixture, which allows for direct contact with insulation and insulate over the lights.

    9. Add an ice-and-water barrier. If you’re reroofing, it’s time to add an ice-and-water barrier. This is a great layer of protection. While many regions now require it, it wasn’t always mandated, so your home may not have one. An ice-and-water barrier needs to be added under a roof, so it’s cost-prohibitive if you’re not reroofing — but if you are, it’s the perfect time to add it.

    10. Keep your roof in good shape. One of the best answers to prevent ice dams is to maintain your roof well and ensure you have enough insulation to keep warm air from getting through. Installing a metal roof with a steep pitch can minimize your risk of leaks caused by ice dams.

    Person on a ladder fixing his gutters.

    Quick Fixes to Get Rid of Ice Dams

    While your goal is to permanently stop ice dams, you might need to use a few quick fixes in the meantime. These tips help you stay on top of ice dams and prevent damage to your home.

    Use a snow rake. After a heavy snowfall, give your roof a break by raking the snow off. This inexpensive tool pulls down the snow so it can’t melt and refreeze into an ice dam. Only use a snow rake from the ground or your deck, never from a ladder. And be careful not to break shingles, which can be brittle in bitter cold temperatures.

    Try calcium chloride. Avoid using rock salt as it can damage paint and metal on your home. But calcium chloride can help melt ice and get water flowing again.

    Install heat cables. Mount heat cables along the edge of your roof and through the downspout. That enables snow to melt and run down the proper channels.

    Steam it off. If you have an ice dam already and you can see that there is a leak coming into your home, you’ll want to remedy it as soon as possible. Check with local roofing companies to see if they have a steamer that can melt the ice off the roof without damaging your shingles. If it’s too big a job for just you, hire a roofing professional to steam off ice dams.

    Not having to worry about ice dams can be a huge relief in the winter months. You instantly free yourself from the immediate issues of a damaged roof and leaks. In addition, your home becomes more energy efficient and comfortable as the air quality improves if moisture isn’t sneaking in and forming mold and mildew.

    Person on a roof holding hail in their hand.

    Does insurance cover ice dams?

    If an ice dam damages your roof, don’t fret. It’s common for homeowners insurance to cover ice dam damage. American Family’s standard homeowner’s policy covers sudden and accidental damage from leaking roofs and damage from the weight of ice, snow or sleet.

    If you have more concerns about your roof insurance coverage or you’d like to learn how your homeowners insurance protects your roof and everything under it, connect with your American Family Insurance agent — they’ve got the answers you need.

     

  • Row of colorful new townhouses.
    Row of colorful new townhouses.
    Do I Need Homeowners Insurance for a Townhouse?

    Whether your townhouse is a rental, in a condo association or one that you own, you’ll need insurance for it. While homeowners insurance for a townhouse might seem appropriate, there are a few factors to consider before purchasing insurance. If you’re the owner of the townhome and aren’t part of a condo association, homeowners insurance is right for you — but if you’re part of a condo association, you’ll want to look at condo insurance. And finally, if you rent your townhome, go for renters insurance.

    New townhouse on a sunny day.

    What is the difference between a condo and a townhouse?

    Condos and townhomes may seem similar, but they have a few key differences. A condominium is typically a living space, either a townhome or apartment-style space, that is owned by a condo association and has shared common space among residents that their condo association fees pay for. If a townhome isn’t owned by a condo association, it’s not a condo.

    Townhomes are typically multi-story buildings that share at least one wall with another townhouse. They look a bit like row houses without easements between the buildings. They can be owned by a condo association, rented from a landlord or owned by individual homeowners.

    House with roof damage from a fire.

    What is covered under townhouse insurance?

    There generally isn’t such a thing as “townhouse insurance,” so to understand what’s covered, you’ll need to consider your living situation. If you’re living in a townhome that isn’t owned by a condo association, you’ll want to look into renters or homeowners insurance.

    If you own your townhouse:

    If your townhouse is solely yours and not part of a condo association, you’ll need a homeowners insurance policy to help protect your property. Home insurance for townhouses covers the same things that it would for a regular house, including:

    • Damage from fire, smoke, wind and other disasters or hazards
    • Damage to your home’s structure
    • Theft of or damage to your personal belongings
    • Liability protection if someone is injured on your property

    You can add other coverages to supplement your homeowners policy that can help cover expenses associated with appliance breakdown, flooding or even identity theft. Learn more about what homeowners insurance can help protect.

    For rent sign on townhouse.

    If you rent your townhouse:

    If your townhouse isn’t part of a condo association and you’re renting it, renters insurance can help you protect your personal property in the event of an accident or theft. Renters insurance for a townhouse can help cover things like:

    • Damage to your personal property from a fire
    • Replacing your personal property after theft
    • Liability protection if someone is injured in your townhome

    Even when you’re away from home, your renters insurance follows you wherever you go.

    People around a table, having a meeting.

    If your townhouse property belongs to a condo association:

    Condo association policies typically only cover common areas and the exterior of the building you live in, although some will cover the interior — but only in its original state. To be sure your personal property and any updates to the interior you’ve made are protected, like granite countertops to replace the original vinyl, you’ll want to get your own condo insurance policy.

    Condo insurance coverage helps protect the things not covered by your condo association’s insurance policy. This includes personal property and personal liability coverage, which can help cover expenses if someone is injured on your property. Even if your condo association insurance policy covers some things that a condo insurance policy might, you should consider condo insurance to take care of any gaps in coverage.

    New townhouse living room.

    Get the Townhouse Insurance Coverage You Need

    If you need help assessing your townhome to understand the right type and amount of protection you need, connect with your American Family Insurance agent. They can help you figure out if you need condo, renters or homeowners insurance and what kind of additional coverages you need to protect what matters most.

  • finished basement
    finished basement
    What Is the Ideal Humidity for a Basement?

    The humidity levels in your basement can impact your home and everyone living inside. It can also affect your valuables, electronics and appliances. In this article, we'll discuss ideal basement humidity levels. We'll also give tips to help you address, monitor and manage moisture in your basement.

    Father and son smiling in living room

    Normal Basement Humidity Levels

    Ideal basement moisture levels are between 30 - 50%. Anything below 30% is too low and can lead to structural changes in your home, causing gaps between windows and doors. Aside from health issues, insufficient moisture levels can also cause wood floors to creak and damage your belongings.

    Moisture levels above 50% can lead to mildew, mold and bacteria growth. That environment can cause serious health issues. Excessive moisture can also damage walls and carpets, causing your home and belongings to rot.

    Locating Your Basement Humidity Source

    One of the best ways to address basement humidity levels is to manage the moisture at its source. While consulting with a professional is always helpful, you can start your search using the following methods.

    Seal Off Drafts

    Gaps and cracks in windows, doorways and walls can cause excess moisture to collect in your basement. Sealants like caulking and weatherstripping can help close the gaps and fix the issue.

    Maintain Your Sump Pump and Vents

    If your sump pits and drains are not airtight, the excess moisture from the pipes can create a humid environment. Maintaining your basement's vents and sump pump can help you manage moisture levels. Consider getting it checked by a professional once every three to four months for optimal performance. 

    Repair Leaks

    Leaking pipes, washing machines and water heaters can affect your basement's humidity. They can also cause other issues, such as a spike in your utility bills.

    To spot them, look for wet spots, rust or condensation around these areas. Beyond helping you maintain healthy basement humidity levels, it helps you catch costly leaks early.

    Clean Gutters

    Clogged gutters can pool rainwater and melting snow around your home’s foundation. Consider positioning gutter spouts to draw water away from your home. Additional outside water can saturate your basement floors and walls, increasing moisture levels.

    woman in living room with cat and dehumidifier

    Managing Your Basement Humidity Levels

    Some humidity issues are more severe than others. However, there are several accessible tools you can use to maintain appropriate moisture levels in your basement and home. Consider the following tips.

    Dehumidifiers

    Several dehumidifier types, such as refrigerant, desiccant and whole-house ventilation systems, are available. They can help you manage moisture levels in your entire home, a single room or a crawlspace. All serve one purpose: To remove excess moisture from the area.   

    Before purchasing yours, consult an expert. They can help you find a suitable model and size that best addresses the humidity in your basement.

    Exhaust Fan

    Another excellent way to manage your basement's humidity levels is to keep it well-ventilated. Installing an exhaust fan is a great option if you can't accomplish that naturally.

    An exhaust fan should be installed in a window or exterior-facing wall to draw the moist air away from your basement. As a bonus, exhaust fans can circulate the air, which helps control unwanted odors.

    Chemical Absorbents

    If you need a fast-acting, inexpensive, moisture-removing option, chemical absorbers, such as silica gel, may be able to help. They're typically sold in home improvement stores and can be placed in other parts of your home as well.

    Humidity Monitor

    A humidity monitor can help you track your basement's humidity levels. Some dehumidifiers and exhaust fans come with them built in. You can also buy a stand-alone model that hangs on your wall.

    Water Leak Detector

    Water leak detectors help you catch leaks early and boast a variety of capabilities, such as sending real-time alerts to your phone.

    You can install them on sinks, appliances and water heaters. Getting one may also qualify you for our smart home discount.

    father and daughter doing laundry

    How American Family Insurance Can Help Protect Your Home

    Our standard home insurance may help protect you from sudden, accidental water damage. Qualifying events may include burst pipes or broken-down appliances.**

    If you want more protection from unexpected losses, talk to your American Family agent about the following coverages:

    • Hidden Water coverageProvides a broader net of protection for leaks you can’t see within the walls, floors, ceilings, cabinets or anywhere else that isn’t visible in your home.***
    • Inland Flood coverage: Helps you recover after a flash flood or other qualifying event.*** 
    • Flood insurance: With the National Flood Insurance Program, we offer flood damage protection for your home and possessions.†
    • Water back-up coverage: Helps mitigate the cost of repairs caused by water coming back into a home due to a backed-up drain or an overflowing sump.* 

    mother and daughter putting toys away

    *Coverage provided by adding the Inland Flood optional endorsement. This endorsement does not satisfy mandatory flood insurance coverage should it be required by your federally regulated lender for your home mortgage or loan. This insurance product is not affiliated with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Please check with your agent and read the policy and endorsements for exact details on coverage limits and exclusions. Coverage applies after the property deductible has been met.

    *This information represents only a brief description of coverages, is not part of your policy, and is not a promise or guarantee of coverage. If there is any conflict between this information and your policy, the provisions of the policy will prevail. Insurance policy terms and conditions may apply. Exclusions may apply to policies, endorsements, or riders. Coverage may vary by state and may be subject to change. Some products are not available in every state. Please read your policy and contact your agent for

    **Hidden Water Damage coverage is an optional coverage. May not be available in all states. Some restrictions apply to seasonal homes and manufactured homes. The leak must occur from within a plumbing, heating, A/C, fire sprinkler or a home appliance. Refer to your policy documents for coverage limit details. Coverage applies after the property deductible has been met. Mold damage limited to coverage limits provided by your homeowners policy.

    †American Family Insurance is a participating company in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). NFIP is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Flood insurance is a separate policy underwritten by NFIP.

  • a woman checks food expiration date
    Reimbursement for Power Outage Food Loss

    Power outages can cause a major disruption in your home — especially if they last for days! It may even result in damage or loss of frozen and refrigerated foods. The good news is your homeowners insurance may be able to help you recoup the losses.

    Let’s take a look to better understand if loss of food due to power outages is covered under your homeowners insurance policy.

    Insurance Coverage for Food Spoilage and Food Loss

    Your standard homeowners policy will provide some coverage for food loss due to a power outage or a mechanical failure of the refrigeration equipment — usually $500 or $1,000. So whether your power outage is caused be a tree in your yard falling on the line, or is from an outage that occurs off your premise, you’ll have some protection for spoiled food that results.

    Will a power company pay for spoiled food if they caused it? Actually, yes, sometimes utility and power companies reimburse the cost of food if they were at fault for the power outage. If that’s the case, it’s beneficial to reach out to see if reimbursement is a possibility.

    If your refrigerator malfunctions for reasons other than a power outage, your home warranty might cover any food spoilage. And while your homeowners insurance will provide some coverage, adding equipment breakdown coverage increases your limit to $10,000 for food spoilage caused by power interruption or mechanical failure.

    Submitting a Food Loss Claim

    If you plan on submitting a food loss claim, expedite the claim process for food spoilage by having the following on hand:

    • Documentation of the food that was lost
    • Pictures of the loss if possible
    • An estimated expense of the lost food
    • Any receipts for expensive items — like steak or lobster

    Compensation for Food Loss

    Remember that your homeowners insurance only covers up to the specified limit on your policy. For example, coverage for spoiled food has a limit of $1,000, meaning if your loss is above that amount, the most you’ll be paid is $1,000. Keep in mind that you may have to pay a deductible before your insurance will cover the rest. Knowing how much your deductible is and your coverage limit for spoiled food will help when deciding if it’s worth it to file a claim for food loss reimbursement.

    Get Insurance Coverage for Power Outage Losses

    Your homeowners insurance protects you in many ways — find out more about how the right homeowners coverage can bring you peace of mind.

    Not sure if your current policy covers food spoilage? Set up a personal insurance review to ensure you're properly protected.