“Our goal is to get policyholders back on their feet as quickly as possible,” Mr. Maurstad said.
Many basements in New York and New Jersey flooded from torrential rain, but such losses are unlikely to be covered unless the property carried flood insurance, experts say. Even then, federal flood policies offer limited coverage for damage to property in basements. The National Flood Insurance Program’s summary of coverage says its policies cover major systems and appliances, but it may offer limited coverage for belongings like couches, computers and televisions in a basement.
Standard homeowner policies may offer some coverage for damage in basements if the policyholder purchased extra insurance, known as an endorsement or “rider,” for sump-pump failure, said Christine O’Brien, the president of the Insurance Council of New Jersey, a trade association. So it may be worth filing a claim and having an adjuster assess the damage.
But coverage depends on the details of your rider. An endorsement may cover damage from a failed sump pump that was overwhelmed by, say, a burst interior pipe — but not if the cause was a flood, said Ellen Melchionni, the president of the New York Insurance Association.
“Every policy is different,” she said.
Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, another trade group, said a sump-pump endorsement typically provided modest protection — $5,000 to $10,000 — for belongings destroyed by overflow from a sump pump or by a backed-up sewer or drain. There is usually a separate deductible, often a percentage of the coverage listed on the rider, so you should check with your insurer.
Homeowners who don’t have flood coverage may be eligible for federal disaster grants, which may cover some of the damage, or low-interest loans.
Major insurers are increasingly offering remote inspections over video because of the pandemic. If you have a mobile phone or tablet and are comfortable doing so, a remote inspection may occur sooner than an in-person visit.
To help speed the claims process, consumer experts advise contacting your insurance agent and filing a claim as soon as possible, since insurers typically handle them on a first-come, first-served basis. Write down your claim number or store it in your phone — wherever it’s easily accessible. And start a log of contacts with your insurer, listing the date, time and a short summary of the conversation.