BBB Tips for Dealing with Water Damage

July 21, 2014

Burnsville, Minnesota – June, 2014 – Heavy rains this spring and summer have sent lakes and rivers over their banks, forcing runoff into homes and basements. Some areas will be fighting floodwaters into fall. This is a challenging time for many and the best people can do – when conditions allow – is to start the cleanup process. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) offers tips to make this process more manageable and help consumers find reliable businesses to work with.

“Persistent and heavy rains have disrupted the summers of many homeowners and business owners,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Returning to a state of normalcy as quickly as possible is the goal, but there are steps people should take to ensure nothing is missed.”

People contending with water/flood damage should:

  • Contact your insurance company immediately to inquire about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. This gets the ball rolling on the claim process.
  • Know the difference between flood insurance and homeowners insurance: Generally, damage caused by water that has been on the ground at some point before damaging your home is considered to be flood damage; Just the opposite from flood damage, for insurance purposes, water damage is considered to occur when water damages your home before the water comes in contact with the ground (broken pipes, a leaky roof, etc). These claims would be covered by homeowners insurance.
  • Do what you can to start mitigating further damage. If you’re worried about wet carpets or rugs, get fans and dehumidifiers going. Talk to an expert to see if the carpet/rugs or furnishings can be salvaged.
  • Document the damage to your property; take pictures or video if possible.
  • Get references from friends and relatives and always contact Better Business Bureau to obtain free Business Reviews on any company you’re considering hiring by visiting Or call 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.
  • Shop around and get more than one estimate.
  • Prepare a written contract agreement with anyone you hire. It should specify the work to be done, the techniques to be used, and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. An agreed-upon timeline is also a good idea.
  • Ask about mold remediation – what kind of certification does the company have?
  • Ask all companies for proof of liability and workers compensation insurance. Get copies of any/all warranties and guarantees.
  • Be sure the name, address, license number and phone number of the cleanup or restoration firm appear on all invoices and contracts!
  • Any promises made orally should be written into the contract, including any warranties.
  • Never pay in full for all repairs in advance, and do not pay cash.
  • Review all documentation before signing on the dotted line and before making any payment. Make sure you understand all the terms.
  • Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid letting your emotions get the better of you. Don't be pressured into making an immediate decision with a long-term impact. Make temporary repairs if necessary. Storm/flood damage victims should never feel pressured to make a hasty decision or choose an unknown company.