Flood recovery resources and insurance issues in the aftermath of New England flooding


New England is still recovering from the record Northeast flooding. If you missed it, you can view the scope of the damage in this gallery of dramatic Northeast flood photos. Now, it’s time to move forward. We’ve gathered various recovery resources for those who suffered damage in these floods.
Are you eligible for disaster assistance? At DisasterAssistance.gov you can apply for assistance online, or take an anonymous pre-screening questionnaire to see if you are eligible for assistance. Various other resources are available. including advance preparation for emergencies, and resources for disaster recovery.
Rhode Island
Rhode Island Severe Storms and Flooding – This page provides updated information and resources for Rhode Island residents and businesses in all 5 counties who were affected by the recent flooding. The first step in recovery entails filing for disaster recovery assistance with FEMA. As of this writing, FEMA has opened Disaster Recovery Centers in Cranston and Warwick. The site offers information from FEMA on where and how to apply for assistance, as well as links to other recovery resources. Check back for updated information.
Massachusetts
Massachusetts Severe Storms and Flooding – This page provides updated information and resources for Massachusetts residents and businesses that were declared as major disaster areas March 29: Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk and Worcester counties. The first step in recovery entails filing for disaster recovery assistance with FEMA. As of this writing, FEMA has opened 5 Disaster Recovery Centers and has FEMA inspectors assessing storm damage in seven Massachusetts counties. The site offers information from FEMA on where and how to apply for assistance, as well as links to other recovery resources. Check back for updated information.
Insurance
Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, so unless you have a specific flood policy, you may be out of luck. Check to see if you have a sump pump failure rider to supplement your homeowners, which may offer some relief.
Even if your homeowners policy doesn’t cover flooding, if you have experienced anything more than minor damage, you may want to file a claim:

  • 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.

Recovery resources

Does homeowners insurance cover a flooded basement?


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.

National Flood Insurance Program has been extended


The U.S. National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which was due to expire in two months, has been extended for six months under a bill approved by the House of Representatives. This will extend the program until March 31, 2010. Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1968 to help millions of American homeowners, renters, and business owners to secure coverage if their community participates in the NFIP. Participating communities agree to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed FEMA requirements to reduce the risk of flooding.
Standard homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flooding so it’s important to know your relative risk of floods – it may be higher than you realize. You can check your relative flood risk, view your local flood map, and access other flood-related information at FloodSmart, the official web site of the NFIP.