We’ve said it many times before and we’ll no doubt say it again: Typical homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. This is one of the biggest consumer misconceptions we hear – and a painful, costly lesson to learn by experience. You need a separate flood insurance policy to be covered – and your policy must be in place for at least 30 days to be in effect, so a last-minute purchase when you hear about flooding potential would be too late. September is National Preparedness Month, and in this first week, the emphasis is on flood prep – so it’s a good reminder.
Rain is great for spring growth, particularly when so many parts of the country are experiencing drought, but it would be nice to have the rain is more measured amounts! It’s pretty soggy right now and rain may continue off and on through this evening. Here are some heavy rain & flooding resources, tips and safety notes.
Turn Around, Don’t Drive
“Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. People underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded. A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters. ”
When your insurer investigates the actual cause of the loss, you may have some coverage.
If you are eligible for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) assistance, you will likely need a letter of denial from your insurer. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate any assistance that insurance already covers.
Your insurer and agent may be able to suggest resources and service firms for emergency restoration professionals in your area. They may have other resources and advice available to help you mitigate and recover from your loss.
If you have comprehensive insurance as part of your standard auto insurance policy, you may be covered for water or flood damage to your car. You would need to contact your agent to check the specific coverage provisions in your policy.
Here’s a question thousands of homeowners and renters will be asking now that the recent heavy rains are abating: Will insurance cover the water damage in my basement? Unfortunately for most the answer is “probably not.” Standard Homeowners’ insurance does not cover damage from flooding, so unless you have a specific flood insurance policy, you will have to foot the bill for any water damage from the recent rains. The Insurance Information Institute offers this rule of thumb: water that comes from from top down (ice dams, for example) is generally covered, but when water comes from the bottom up, such as in flooding, it’s not covered.
Many homeowners who live in a low-risk flood area think they do not need to insure against flooding but the reality is that in any given year, about one-third of all claims paid by the National Flood Insurance Program are for policies in low-risk communities. Over a 30-year mortgage, your home has a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood, compared to a 9% chance of fire. Water damage repair can be costly – you can learn just how costly with this inch-by-inch interactive cost of flooding calculator.
You can learn more about floods, your risk of flooding, and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at Floodsmart.gov. Don’t get caught short – talk to your agent about flood insurance options – if you are in a low to moderate risk zone, insurance can be very affordable.