The best Flood Insurance Guide and tips
Flood insurance was a hot topic in the wake of Gulf Coast hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The lesson taken away from those disasters from a flood insurance perspective was generally the right one – The Congressionally-mandated flood insurance program does not work. Not nearly enough people buy flood insurance – ironically, far fewer buy mandatory flood insurance than would if the market were allowed to educate the public and convince them to buy it. To understand why so many homeowners even in hurricane prone areas lack flood insurance, it’s necessary to learn a little bit about how flood insurance works in America.
Do you need flood insurance? You have to decide that based on where you live, whether you are in danger from floods and how the cost of insurance compares to the cost of your property.
Consider that flood damage often lasts after the actual flood has subsided. This may look like compromised structural support, permanently damaged furniture and mold growth.
Consider that if your home were destroyed by an ocean storm surge, an insurance company could deem the cause of destruction to be “flooding,” leaving you uninsured and homeless.
Consider that rising temperatures may cause the ocean level to rise and erratic weather patterns to emerge. According to many climatologists, this may lead to storms of greater intensity around the world for years to come.
Only you can decide whether to purchase flood insurance. If you live in a flood prone area, you might want to request a quote online or by phone. An insurance quote is free, so you lose nothing by asking. You may be pleasantly surprised by the deals you find.
What Flood Damage Will Normal Insurance Policies Cover?
Your insurance policy may cover storm damage and fail to specify what type of storm damage, so you might be able to repair the damage from both water and wind in a single insurance payment. However, this is generally not the case, as insurance professionals will want to pay you as little as possible. More commonly, you won’t be able to fix wind-related damage because it happened at the same time and in the same place as flood damage.
If flooding causes your electrical power to short, you may be able to receive compensation for spoiled food and appliance damage. However, this only applies to hurricane-related electrical damage. If heavy rains or river overflow cause the electricity to go haywire, you will probably not be compensated.
Condo owners and apartment renters may be able to fix common areas if the landlord or condo co-op has a flood insurance policy on the building. However, unless each individual living unit has flood insurance, water damage will not be covered for your own living space.
Finally, if flooding renders your house uninhabitable, your standard policy may cover additional living expenses. These expenses include those beyond weathering displacement and finding temporary shelter. The amount of money provided for additional living expenses is typically 20% of your insurance policy.
What Does Flood Insurance Cover?
A flood is defined by the National Flood Insurance Program as a partial or complete inundation of normally dry land due to overflow of inland waters, rapid accumulation of surface waters from any source or mud flows. This type of insurance covers:
* Any structural damage due to flooding
* Damage to or resulting from electrical and plumbing systems after a flood
* Damage to appliances, heating and cooling equipment
* Wood paneling, cabinetry and furniture damage
* Carpet damage and repair
* Damage to personal items such as jewelry and electronics
* Unavoidable mildew or mold damage as a result of flooding
* Debris removal
* All damage to detached garages
What Doesn’t Flood Insurance Cover?
Even a comprehensive insurance policy may not provide complete coverage for every financial loss due to flooding. These common requests are usually denied by insurance providers:
* Financial losses caused by loss of property use, e.g. a flooded home office
* Land property outside the insured building, e.g. trees, patios, septic systems, gardens, swimming pools, etc.
* Mold and mildew damage due to flood that could have been avoided by the property owner
Ultimately, it is up to you to get flood insurance.