LESLIE: Michael in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MICHAEL: I had standing water in my basement last Monday: about 4 inches worth.
MICHAEL: After three or four days, I started noticing mold was popping on my walls.
MICHAEL: And I started ripping up the trim around my walls and there was this black mold covering everywhere.
TOM: Oh, boy. That’s not good. First of all, I would stop right away and make sure you contact your insurance company. Because if this is the result of a storm, which that’s what it sounds like it is – in other words, it’s not ongoing; it’s a point-in-time occurrence – then you very well may have – and I say may, not for sure – but you may have insurance coverage.
MICHAEL: I don’t.
TOM: You don’t have homeowners insurance?
MICHAEL: Well, I have homeowners insurance but they do not cover mold.
TOM: Yes but they probably cover water damage.
LESLIE: Water damage, yeah.
MICHAEL: I’ve been calling them every day and I’ve been in – they haven’t sent – they didn’t – they said that the inspectors are too busy to come out right now.
TOM: What do you mean the inspectors are too busy? That’s crazy.
Here’s what I want you to do. You pay these guys good money to be your insurance company. They’re telling you they’re too busy to look at it? I want you to contact a private insurance adjuster. Private insurance adjusters work on a commission basis. They are specifically trained to deal with insurance-company hassles.
The thing that bothers me about insurance companies is that they make the filing of the claim, as you’re experiencing, so painful that they hope that you will just go away and save them a lot of money. But a private insurance adjuster will work with you. They’ll know, based on the type of policy you have, what’s covered and what’s not covered. They will help you put together a claim reflecting exactly what’s covered and for the most possible money that you’re entitled to and then see that through to collection with the insurance company.
I would not do this yourself until I exhausted that issue. I mean these guys are not going to cost you anything except a percentage of what they get from the insurance company. It’s well worth it if you find a good one. You might want to call your insurance broker and see if they have any private adjusters that they can recommend or check with your friends, your family. Check Angie’s List, check ServiceMagic, check some of those online review sites. Find a good insurance adjuster and file the claim with them.
Now, aside from this issue, I will tell you that the reason the basement flooded is most likely because of the grading and the drainage outside the house. You’ve got too much water that was discharging near the foundation. It might be that the gutters were clogged, you don’t have gutters, those (inaudible at 0:05:57) are too close to the corners. You’ve got to fix all that up and this way, you won’t have a problem that crops up the next time
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.