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Understanding Flood Coverage
By David Miller
The scenes from Hurricane Sandy are heartbreaking: whole neighborhoods under water, families forced to seek shelter on their second floors, people being rescued from flooded homes. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the people affected by the storm.
At the same time, we realize that for some of them, the nightmare is continuing as they discover that they might not have insurance coverage for their losses. And that scenario is played out over and over again across the United States.
That’s because homeowner's insurance does not cover losses from flood. Flood losses can be covered only by flood insurance underwritten by the National Flood Insurance Program. And too many people – including, no doubt, many on the Eastern Seaboard – do not realize this until it is too late.
At issue is the definition of flood. Most insurers define a flood as an intrusion of surface water from an external source, which means you don’t have to be close to the ocean or a river to suffer such losses. For example, surface flooding from heavy rains can cause water to damage your home.
Let’s look at how your insurance coverage would deal with certain scenarios:
Of course, your homeowner’s policy would still provide coverage for theft, fire, etc. For example, if rising water forced you to leave your home and thieves took some of your property while you were gone, your homeowner’s policy would cover the theft but not the losses related to the water damage.
- If water from a rising river, creek, ocean, etc., enters your home or otherwise damages your property, you have coverage only under flood insurance.
- If heavy rains saturate the ground so that surface water comes in through your foundation or your basement windows, that usually is covered only by flood insurance.
- If a storm overwhelms your city’s sewerage system and forces water up through your drains and toilets, your homeowner’s policy responds – if you have coverage for backup.
- If a severe storm damages or destroys your roof and rainwater comes in and damages your home, you likely have coverage under your homeowner’s policy.
Your homeowner’s policy and flood insurance work together to ensure that you have protection against damage from water. But the simple truth is that, if you don’t have flood insurance, you do not have adequate protection.
Flood insurance is relatively inexpensive, especially if you live in an area that is not prone to flooding. At The Bensman Group, we can help assess your current coverage plan and ensure that you have an appropriate level of flood insurance. Just contact us at 847-572-0800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, if you are moved by the pictures and stories of Hurricane Sandy, we urge you to consider making a donation to an agency involved in hurricane relief. Choose an established and reputable organization, such as the American Red Cross, and donate directly through the organization’s website. Don’t respond to emails or phone calls that claim to be from a charitable organization; unfortunately, when a disaster occurs, scammers can try to take advantage of your generosity and compassion.