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Hurricanes Teach Important Lesson About Flood Coverage
In the wake of historic flooding from recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, many homeowners probably made a devastating discovery: Their homeowner’s insurance does not cover damage to their home and other structures or to their personal property from floods. Those losses are covered only in policies based on insurance underwritten by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP); they are not covered under most traditional homeowner’s policies.
Some carriers offer policies based on the NFIP product but with some significant differences, such as the potential for higher limits. We can help you determine whether you could be eligible for these coverages and whether they might be a good choice for you.
Insurers define flood losses as losses caused by water coming into your home from the outside. If you live near a river or lake that floods and causes water to come into your house, that is a flood loss. If there is a storm surge from the ocean that sends water into your house, that is also a flood loss.
You don’t have to live near a body of water to suffer a flood loss, though. For example, if very heavy rains flood your yard and water comes into your house through your basement windows or under your doors, that is almost certainly a flood loss.
People who live in certain flood-prone areas are required to have flood insurance, although almost anyone can buy the coverage. It is available to cover your structures and personal property, as well as costs related to cleanup and preparation to protect your home from flooding, such as sand bags. Generally speaking, the cost of the insurance increases as the likelihood of flooding increases.
If you choose to buy flood insurance, it will not take effect for at least 30 days. This is to keep people from buying the coverage as a hurricane is bearing down on them, then canceling it if the hurricane misses them and buying it again when the next hurricane comes.
It also is important to take steps to minimize water damage, especially if you live in an area that is not near a body of water that floods regularly or is not prone to hurricanes. For example:
Make sure you have a working sump pump. Test your sump pump regularly, and get a backup generator to ensure that the sump pump will work when the power is out.
Elevate appliances, furniture and important papers, etc., if your basement tends to flood.
Buy battery-operated sensors that alert you to the presence of water. If you have a vacation home, you can add water sensors to your home protection and alert system.
Clean your gutters, and make sure downspouts carry the water far from your foundation.
Make sure the ground around your foundation is graded properly so as to force water to run away from your house.
At The Bensman Group, we are happy to discuss what your homeowner’s policy covers and whether you need additional coverage. Just contact us at 847-572-0828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.