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Don't blow your insurance claim

Monday - 9/12/2011, 12:11pm  ET

Evan Haning,

WASHINGTON -- If your home was flooded by Hurricane Irene or the heavy rains that followed, and your insurance policy says you're not covered, don't give up yet.

It's true that most policies don't cover flooding, but they do cover damage from wind-blown rain. The Motley Fool says such seemingly minor details can make the difference between compensation and claim denial.

Look closely at the causes of damage to your home, says Motley personal finance blogger Dan Caplinger. Did high wind damage create the flooding? You may have to write off the carpet, but what did that rain do to your walls and windows?

Before and after pictures are helpful, and keeping a written record of all conversations with your agent and company representatives shows that you have done your homework.

It is also a record of employees who have been especially helpful to you, employees you may be able to request as you fight for your claim.

If your insurer is intransigent, you may need to see a lawyer.

Insurance companies know that courts tend to decide for the insured when policy language is ambiguous, Caplinger says. They also realize that their own agents don't always accurately describe legalese when pitching clients.

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